“I’m stressed and drinking too much – any advice?”

In the ‘Dear Rach’ series I answer questions about drinking and alcohol. 
If you have a question you’d like me to answer, please email me.

Dear Rach,

My life recently has been very stressful.

My husband and I are going through a rough patch, my teenage daughter has become very withdrawn and I’m worried that my mother will need to move out of her home as her health is getting worse.

On top of that, the company I work for is struggling financially due to the impact of COVID so I’m really worried that I’ll lose my job.

The only time I get to ‘escape’ from my life is when I pour myself a drink at the end of the day. The problem is that I’m going through a bottle of wine a night, which I know isn’t good.

I want to cut back but, with so much stress in my life, the wine gives me the release I need from all the thinking and worrying.

What can I do?

Stressed to the Max

Dear Stressed to the Max,

First of all, I’m sorry that you’re going through all of that.

Any one of those things would be stressful but dealing with them all at the same time is challenging.

I also understand why you turn to a drink at the end of the day to destress.

I get it because it works … temporarily.

But the reason you’re writing to me is that you realise that it is just a temporary solution and that it’s ultimately not doing you any favours – both physically and mentally.

Questioning your thoughts and beliefs

Whenever I work with clients to change their approach to drinking we look at their thoughts and beliefs around alcohol.

In this case, you believe that you need to drink to deal with the stresses in your life.

But is this really true and, more importantly, is it serving you? The fact that you’re writing to me suggests it’s not.

I use a technique call ACT to work with clients on their belief and thoughts about alcohol. You can download the free worksheet here to try this approach.

It will help you to consider whether drinking is really relieving the stress in your life or just temporarily masking it?

In fact, is it actually causing more stress in your life because it’s another worry that you’re adding to a growing list of concerns?

So what’s the alternative?

Like you Stressed to the Max, I used wine to take the edge off until I realised that it was actually adding a whole lot of extra stress to my life.

That realisation led me to make some changes and find other ways to destress at the end of the day. Some of my methods included:

  • Talking to my partner or a friend
  • Exercise – walk, swim, hike, yoga (whatever you enjoy)
  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Cry (a good old cry can be so cathartic) – try journaling about how you’re feeling to really work through those emotions.
  • Cook
  • Listen to music (I have a feel-good playlist on Spotify that I crank up!)
  • Paint
  • Jigsaw puzzles while listening to an audiobook or podcast
  • Bath
  • Read a book

Your list is no doubt different from mine but think of what you enjoy doing so that you have a toolkit of options to help you destress when life is feeling too overwhelming and all you want to do is reach for a drink.

The other advantage is that you will be clear headed enough to deal with the issues at hand instead of hiding from them.

It will give you the opportunity to have the conversations you need to with your husband, daughter and mother, so you can share your concerns and work together to find solutions to each of the issues you face.

Got a Dear Rach question?

Email me at rachael@inspiredtochange.com.au

If you want support to change your relationship with alcohol book a free 30-minute discussion call where I can provide you with advice about the options available.

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