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How to de-stress without drinking

Do workaholics tend to become alcoholics? If your workload is excessive, does that mean you’ll almost inevitably drink excessively? Being consumed by your job may unavoidably lead to co-occurring mental health conditions, like higher stress levels and anxiety, and therefore an increased need to de-stress. However, drinking to self-soothe and relieve stress is dangerous.

Some workaholics de-stress by going to the gym, by meditating, or by simply putting their feet up in front of the TV with a cup of tea. However, others choose to wind down after a long day on the job with a bottle of wine (or three). If you belong in the latter group, and you do that just about every night of the year, your liver won’t thank you; in fact, it’ll probably soon start telling you to cut back on your excessive alcohol consumption or pay a heavy price (the ultimate price, for some people, sadly).

Research suggests that most functioning alcoholics blame their excessive alcohol consumption work-related stress.

Are you caught in this trap?

Finding relief from work-related stress by hitting the bottle regularly is the last thing you should do. Why? Because the more you drink, the more you’ll need to drink in future, in order to feel the relief that you crave. Your body’s tolerance for alcohol will rise in tandem with your escalating alcohol consumption. That means you’ll need to drink more and more heavily as the years pass, or you won’t find the respite you seek in drinking at all. If you’re not careful, you’ll put yourself at an increased risk of developing a life-threatening health condition or disease as well as develop an alcohol addiction.

The solution is, of course, to simply not drink at all – to cease drinking altogether. However, to quit drinking for good, most alcoholics need professional help.

How to cope with stress without drinking alcohol

There are a number of ways in which you can learn to cope with your stress without having to reach for an alcoholic drink. These include:

  • Learn to recognise triggers– if there are specific situations or times in the week when your work responsibilities all get too much – which leads you to craving a drink to cope with it all – write those instances down, and re-organise your workload/schedule to avoid that pressure
  • Talk to someone– you could even plan a weekly or bi-weekly meeting with a qualified health professional, to discuss your feelings (a problem shared is a problem halved, after all)
  • Change your social set– if you have friends that you regularly drink with, try to avoid meeting them socially so frequently. If they’re really your friends they’ll understand that you are worried about your rising drinking levels, and will support you. If they sneer at what you are trying to achieve, and make you feel under pressure to carrying on drinking, avoid them completely
  • Take up a hobby or interest that doesn’t involve drinking– there are countless interests and fun pastimes in which alcohol plays no part. You’ll be with like-minded people, and you’ll make new friends. Your local library or sports centre will know of what’s going on locally
  • Try meditation– meditating is proven as being one of the best ways to relax and to totally clear your mind. There’s no need to spend a fortune on self-help books to learn how to meditate; there are numerous articles online that give simple and easy-to-follow advice for beginners
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