As we spoke about in our last blog, the new year can often be a time for setting new goals to aim for across the next few months. This could be anything from maybe trying to cut back on something, doing more exercise, picking up a hobby or even spending more time with family! One thing that people try to do is cut back on alcohol.
This is why this month is Dry January, a one-month alcohol-free challenge set up by Alcohol Change UK. So why is it good to try and take a month away from drinking alcohol? Doing this can often have many benefits such as sleeping better, saving money and improving health. Taking such a break and cutting back on your alcohol intake can also have considerable benefits for your mental health too!
Drinking alcohol can very quickly become just a regular part of life, whether it be a couple of drinks after work, or whilst socialising with friends/family. It is also something that can become very quickly depended on and can greatly impact everyday lives and your mental health.
Throughout the Festive Period, we talked about how important it was to set your boundaries regarding what is best for you and make sure that the people around you respect that. This is also something that can be applied to drinking alcohol. For example, you may go out to drink with friends or family with the aim of not drinking at all, however the others you are meeting may be doing the opposite. They then may try to pressure you into having a drink too. So if this happens, just remember how important it is that your boundaries are respected at all times!
How can alcohol affect our Mental health?
Alcohol is a depressant so when you drink alcohol it can disrupt the balance affecting your thoughts, feelings and actions. It can often make you feel as if you have more confidence and less anxiety. However, this will often be a short-term effect and as people drink more and more negative emotions can take over causing them to get angry, upset, anxious or depressed. Alcohol will mean they have less control over their actions and might be less able to handle their emotions.
For many people, however, alcohol is used as a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety and depression and is often referred to as ‘self-medicating’ with alcohol. This is due to the short feeling of initial relief you can get from drinking. This can result in both negative side effects for your mental health and psychical.
What Can I do?
You don't have to have started on the 1st of January 2023 - you can take a month off starting now!
There are many different ways of helping your mental health in a safer and more careful way. At Burton and District Mind we are always here to help. We offer a number of services that are far more beneficial such as our Counselling, Mindfulness techniques and many more!
We definitely recommend checking out the ‘What We Do’ section of our website to see what appeals to you!
Whilst we can help with Mental Health, there are lots of places for support with alcohol addiction such as:
- Your local GP
- Alcohol Change UK (https://alcoholchange.org.uk/)
- Drinkaware (https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/advice/alcohol-support-services)
How can your family and friends help?
If you know someone who is struggling with alcohol and it is causing a negative effect on their mental health there are several steps you can take to help!
- Encourage them to seek help
- Encourage them to carry on with their treatments
- Spent positive time with them
- Make sure you look after yourself.
At Burton and District Mind we are here for you.