Do you drink alcohol because it gives you the anxiety relief that you’re looking for in the moment? Maybe because you experience social anxiety... Or because it helps you cope with stress and anxiety... Or because it gives you an escape… Or because it’s a habit...
Guilty! I used to drink alcohol for all of these reasons.
I’ve always been an introvert. I remember starting school as a little kid and dreading every aspect of it, especially things like recess, lunchtime, and going on field trips. Being around a lot of people has always caused me to feel nervous and overwhelmed. I’m shy and reserved, and I love my quiet time.
When I started drinking alcohol, I was using it to help me in social situations, and as an escape. I felt like alcohol helped me to relax in social situations, and just helped to turn off all of those unproductive, unhealthy, and negative thoughts. And once I began struggling severely with anxiety and panic, I drank alcohol to take away the anxious thoughts, panic attacks, and the symptoms. I would also drink when I was stressed. Then drinking wine every night became a habit.
My husband (boyfriend at the time), would encourage me to drink less, and expressed often (in a very kind way), that he didn’t like the person that I was when I drank. When I drank, all of my emotions came out, as well my past traumas and stresses. All of the stuff that I had tried so hard to hide from would come out in full force. I didn’t even like myself when I drank! And hours after drinking and/or the next day I would experience severe anxiety and panic attacks. And even though I knew that what I was doing was so unhealthy and that I was only making things harder on myself, I kept doing it.
I kept doing it because I just wanted to feel relief from the anxiety, panic, and the symptoms.
But I ultimately learned that hiding from past traumas, hurt, pain, and anger, only makes your journey harder. It’s facing these things that will give you the relief you’re so desperately seeking. I’m not saying it won’t be hard to face these things, because it will be, but you are so much stronger than you currently think you are.
I also learned that alcohol actually…
Caused and increased anxiety, panic, and the symptoms
Prevented me from healing and growing
Prevented me from having healthy relationships
So what did I do?
I accepted where I was. I accepted that alcohol couldn't be a part of my life until I was able to develop a healthy relationship with myself and with anxiety, and so I slowly began to eliminate it from my diet and I didn't drink for a few years. Fast forward to now, I only have 1-2 drinks a month. And you know what? It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life! How so? Well, let me list the ways…
I sleep better.
I work through stress, anxious moments, and big life events, in healthy ways.
I have healthy relationships, including the one with myself!
I acknowledge and process my emotions rather than allowing them to consume me.
I experience a healthy amount of anxiety, and no more panic!
I have more energy (and sustained energy).
I don’t have awful hangovers that completely waste my days.
I’m actually able to LIVE my life.
I’m able to be in social situations without experiencing anxiety and panic, AND people actually enjoy being around me! And I only miss spicy margaritas every so often.
All of this because I eliminated ONE contributor of anxiety and panic!
If you’re currently using alcohol in unhealthy ways, I want you to ask yourself these three questions:
1. Am I capable of being me, being in social situations, and living my life without alcohol?
The answer is yes!
2. Will eliminating alcohol from my diet only have positive results?
The answer is yes!
3. Is alcohol worth experiencing anxiety and panic?
The answer is no!
Alcohol is not worth you not LIVING your life peacefully and joyfully.
You are worth it! Start small! Start by slowly eliminating it from your diet and track how you feel in the process.
You don’t need alcohol to be the amazing person that you are.