3 reasons why drinking alcohol causes stress and anxiety

-Apr 6, By Dr Bunmi Aboaba, The Sober Advantage, Health -

Have you found yourself longing for a large glass of wine at the end of each day? If so you’re not alone. We take a look at why stress and alcohol are a toxic mix. And, what to do about it. 

A lot of women juggle relationships, friendships, a successful career, family life and childcare on a daily basis.

So it’s no wonder some of us turn to that big glass of red at the end of a busy day. Some of us might start while we’re cooking dinner, some when the kids go to bed and even some of us when our partner goes to bed.

In the short-term the benefits of alcohol are instant. We feel immediately relaxed when we have that glass of Merlot. We feel at peace. We feel like we’re having some well-deserved time to ourselves.

But, in the long-term, drinking and stress becomes the equivalent of that cringe-worthy couple you see arguing in public.

Stress and drinking is the most toxic relationship – and you’re better off out of it.

In the UK, according to latest figures, stress is most apparent in women aged 35-44 years with 2,430 cases reported per 100,000 employees.

This is closely followed by women aged 25-34 years with 1,930 cases per 100,000 women… and that doesn’t even include those who didn’t open up about their stress!

What it does to our bodies in the short-term may feel like a cure-all for everything anxiety, stress and depression related, but in the long-term it’s a different story. The long-term physical and mental effects are far more disastrous…

Here’s why stress and drinking are really bad for each other… and why they should break up….

Reason 1: Doing things you regret

Alcohol makes a bad situation worse – I’ve never known alcohol to improve someone’s problems. Drinking amplifies our emotions by a thousand – and we react to situations accordingly.

So if you’re feeling stressed about money, then drinking alcohol means not only are you spending money on drink itself but you’re more likely to impulse buy!

Nearly everything is available to buy online now, so ‘drunk you’ might think it’s a good idea to blow part of your savings on a new wardrobe that ‘sober you’ probably wouldn’t like.

Alternative: Do things you love instead! Rather than downing a bottle of wine every other night, why not treat yourself to a matcha latte or herbal tea and settle down with a page-turner of a book or even start a new hobby for an hour an evening. Painting, sketching, knitting, crafting, learning a new language, doing a fun online course… anything goes!

Instead of spending the money on alcohol and impulse purchases at 11pm at night, it’s way more worthwhile to save up for a well-earned family holiday or a spa day for yourself (plus, you’ll save up much more quickly… so the holiday will come around a lot quicker!)

Reason 2: Not quite in deep sleep mode

It may seem that a stiff drink before bed helps you fall asleep. While that may be true for the first few minutes that you’re out for the count, it can massively affect your quality of sleep.

That’s when the vicious circle starts…

You go to sleep after a few drinks, your body immediately goes into deep sleep mode. As the night wears on, you spend less and less time in deep sleep mode and most of your time in the REM stage (lighter sleep / the dream phase).

Usually, our bodies will, roughly, go through 90 minutes cycles of deep sleep and REM sleep. However, with alcohol our bodies get little amounts deep sleep, so you wake up feeling groggy and exhausted… ready to face your busy day, right? 

Alternative: Work on your sleep hygiene. Start off simple by treating yourself to a fresh new duvet set and start changing all the little things like making sure the bedroom is nice and cool, getting blackout blinds, putting all electronic devices on the other side of the room and so on.

If you make it a habit every night to prepare your body for rest, after a very short time your body will start to naturally wind down on its own in the evenings.

Reason 3: Alcohol pushes you even further down

If you’ve had a rough day, then alcohol will probably make it even rougher. We all know alcohol is a depressant and it can play havoc with our mental health. Even if you just have one glass of wine a day, it can still worsen depression, stress and anxiety symptoms.

Alcohol messes with our brain’s neurotransmitters, so that’s why our hand-eye coordination gets worse, our speech gets slurred and we make poor decisions. Our perceptions are narrowed… so while we don’t notice people becoming annoyed at our drunken behaviour, we’ll know in the morning when we ask “what did I do / say?” This can lead to feelings of guilt or shame and, as a result, more anxiety and stress.

Alternative: If you already suffer from stress and anxiety, then adopt some breathing techniques.

You can do them anywhere you like and for however long or short you like! Simply breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and exhale deeply for 8 seconds. There are so many different breathing techniques out there – you’re sure to find one that resonates with you personally! It’s also worth looking into meditation – this also can be done anywhere, any time and has so many benefits for the body and mind.



Dr Bunmi Aboaba a Sobriety Companion and Coach and founder of the Sober Advantage. Bunmi is dedicated to helping professionals overcome drinking problems. Her combination of holistic therapies is used to prepare a bespoke plan designed to fit around busy schedules. Bunmi helps people battling a variety of addictions to get control of their lives and beat their addiction – for good.  Bunmi uses a variety of techniques to help her clients, all of which she has used herself to help her gain her sobriety and remain sober for 10 years.

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