For anyone who’s had a drink to temporarily forget their troubles, there’s a chance you’ll recognise this pattern.
You’ve had a rough day so you might go out for a drink or two to wind down and forget your problems… but they’re still there the next morning.
A few weeks later, you’ve got another date with the pub where you can temporarily forget about your past screw-ups with a few more pints. You then wake up the next morning and lo and behold, the problems are still there.
Rinse and repeat.
So, why do so many of us get into this revolving door of bev-sinking to rid us of what’s really going on? There are many reasons (especially of late, hello COVID-19) but at the beginning, you do have that brief moment of not having to think as clearly as you usually do. Memories get blurry, so you’re more inclined to live in the moment and forget your troubles. However, trust me when I say that the novelty wears off and drinking as an escape can quickly become a habit.
If this sounds like you, and you feel like you might be drinking away your troubles, there are a few strategies to help you get out of this vicious cycle, which include ways to reduce your drinking and getting to the root of the issue by identifying the problem you’re escaping.
Monitor your intake
Counting drinks is an effective way to make sure you don’t overdo it – it’s essentially holding yourself accountable in a way that’s easily measured. Check out the Australian guidelines to reduce your risk from alcohol.
That can be easier said than done, though. After a few drinks, we tend to lose track and next thing you know, you’re waking up with a severe case of hangxiety.
This is why it could be useful to download an app like The Drinks Meter that will do most of the legwork. Once you get into the habit of whipping out your phone and entering in your drinks, it’ll be much harder to ignore the number of drinks increasing and your control decreasing.
Take a breather
If you find that you’re relying on alcohol more and more to avoid or forget your troubles, it might be wise to take a break while you figure out why you’re feeling the way you are.
You’re not gonna get to the bottom of what’s bugging you if you’re too impaired to think clearly. Alcohol is a short-term fix, but in the long-run, it’s way better to face your problems head-on and figure out another way to deal with them.
In saying that, going cold turkey might seem like an impossible feat to many, so, if you have become dependent on it, you can head here to suss out next steps.
If you’re not sure if you have a problem or want some help, you can take a self-assessment quiz here.
Dive into activities that don’t revolve around bevs
Believe it or not, you don’t have to become that person that gets up at 6am on a Saturday morning to go for a gruelling jog just because you’re not hungover – you can find a happy medium.
Organise more social activities that don’t revolve around a bar. Morning brunches, movies, arcades (no one’s too old to try their hand at the claw machine and I stand firm by that). It’s wild once you start doing things you used to do when you were younger, before alcohol became the common go-to for socialising.
Get back to a mindset where you get excited about seeing your mates (and not just seeing your mates so you can toss a few back).
Again, you don’t have to become that person that jogs for fun, there are plenty of things out there that are enjoyable and, most importantly, memorable.
Talk to people you trust
Whoever coined that term ‘just keep it to yourself’ needs to be tied to a cactus and left out in the sun for a few days.
Talking about things that bother you is sometimes a necessity and can help you feel better, especially if you find yourself lashing out or getting upset while simultaneously getting frustrated because no one understands why.
Absolutely screw off any of this ‘silent struggle’ business. Try to get into the habit of chatting to someone when something’s bothering you. It’ll almost always take a load off your shoulders.
Find a professional to talk to
In all honesty, I reckon everyone could benefit from a good dose of professional help – whether that’s from your GP, psychologist or psychiatrist.
It’s a common misconception that you should only go to a professional when you’re completely drowning. Why not get in there earlier and steadily maintain your mental health and wellbeing instead of going to see a professional when you’re fully submerged underwater?
Whether you personally think your problems are trivial or not, who cares? Everyone needs a hand and you should never discount or downplay your own emotions.
Recent changes to Medicare’s Mental Health Care Plan also makes it more accessible – at the moment, you can get 20 subsidised sessions through the plan, so reach out to your GP to organise one today.
There are more ways to help you cut down on the booze over at Queensland Health’s site, so give it a squiz – the more info the better.Image: Inside Amy Schumer