Are you dealing with stress or just covering it up?
If you're anything like me, one of the things you enjoy about sitting down to dinner after a hard day's work is that first sip of wine. Who knew with one sip, you could instantly feel a sigh of relief and know that everything is going to be ok. But is that relief helping or hurting you?
DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to be a public service announcement about the effects of alcohol. We all know there are associated health concerns. And, of course, if that regular glass of wine turns into a few bottles of wine, there are many resources available to help and I encourage you to reach out to those who care for you and ask for assistance.
What I DO want to address are some non-health concerns about using alcohol to numb the stress and pain in your life. Too much booze could be hurting you in the following ways:
1. You're avoiding, not healing.
Alcohol is one way that people choose to cope with their pain and any situations that they are unhappy with. Conscious or not, your decision to drink that glass of wine is providing you with an escape from the everyday stressors. That escape, in whatever form it can be provided, does help. However, if that form of escape becomes the end of the road, and you're not able to move beyond it, you are holding yourself back from truly healing and resolving the problems in your life.
The more you cope with your frustrations by numbing them with alcohol, the less likely you are to face the issues head on and resolve them. It's easy to fall into the trap of coping so well that you never actually feel enough pain, meaning you'll never get motivated enough to change your situation.
2. You're losing your sense of self.
If you are regularly numbing your unhappiness, over time you may become disconnected from yourself and the world around you. If you find yourself stuck in the cycle of being miserable, numbing the pain, being miserable, numbing the pain, you begin to lose touch with whatever it is that truly gets you out of being miserable. You no longer need to rely on the unique actions that bring you happiness, making it easy to forget them.
3. You're becoming complacent.
When I think about what alcohol does for me, I picture a scale with three settings. The lowest setting on the scale is "feeling crappy," the next setting is "good enough," and the highest setting is "freakin' amazing". Alcohol is one way to very quickly and reliably go from feeling crappy to feeling good enough.
However, it will never get you to that last setting. OK, I can already hear the jokes. ... Yes, if you've had a really crazy night out, you may think you've felt amazing, but I assure you it is not the same thing. For some, that feeling only comes from the greatest joys in life ... the authentic, heartfelt emotions you feel when you fall in love, when you land your dream job, when you hold your newborn baby for the first time, or when you become someone's hero.
When you rely on a quick fix to get you to "good enough," it may seem unnecessary to get to that last setting on the scale —and, you may even forget that the last setting even exists. Please know that it is possible to feel amazing, and you can do so on a regular basis without waiting for one of those once in a lifetime events.
To be clear ... I am not saying that anyone who enjoys a glass of wine is missing out on life. But I do challenge you to ask yourself this: If you take away the alcohol, what will you be facing? What changes would you need to make to get rid of those unpleasant feelings once and for all? What makes you happy? What does "freakin' amazing" look like for you? How much is that worth to you? And most importantly, what are you going to do about it?