February and March are pretty great when it comes to what we observe. In February, Black History Month reminds us of all the social, political, scientific, and cultural achievements that African American community members have contributed, like George Washington Carver and Tupac. In March, Women’s History Month commemorates how women have changed the world (both the Marie Curies and the Rihannas).
But it can’t all be rainbows and waterfalls. And April has a more somber tone with Alcohol Awareness Month. In this post, we’ll observe Alcohol Awareness Month by looking at why people drink and some healthy alternatives they can try.
Why People Drink in the US
Before we look at alternatives to alcohol, we need to think about why people drink. One study one study in the journal Addict Behaviors, attempted to answer this exact question. The study surveyed nearly 800 randomly selected drinkers in Michigan. Its results appeared to show that most people drink for one of two reasons.
Why People Drink: Social Reasons
First, they may imbibe because of social factors. The most common reason was celebrating some kind of happy event, like a reunion or holiday. After all, if we’re at a party where everyone’s drinking and having a good time, it’s natural to want to join in. That’s particularly true if you’re drinking with your friends.
Peer pressure plays a role in this, too, especially among young people. The study’s results suggested that social reasons were the most common response to participants’ drinking.
Why People Drink: Coping with Stress
More insidious (and way less fun) is stress’s role in alcohol. The study showed that, although drinking to cope with stress wasn’t as common as social drinking, it was the main reason most chronic drinkers drank.
One interesting fact that the study noted is that these two factors play a central role in alcohol consumption regardless of age, race, or sex. That means drinking to cope with stress likely isn’t a socially conditioned response. Instead, it appears to be an ingrained part of human biology.
We all know that chronic drinking can lead to many health problems. But there’s one weird thing about drinking to relieve stress: it seems to work. According to another study in the journal Alcohol Research and Health, drinking did indeed appear to help particular drinkers relax under specific situations.
We know that chronic drinking has more than its fair share of problems. That makes drinking to cope with stress even more complicated. But at the same time, people who drink to deal with stress need something to help them take the edge off. Fortunately, they do have some options.
Natural Alternatives to Alcohol
Okay, so we’ve looked at the two main reasons people drink. For many people, the first one isn’t much of an issue. If you’re just drinking occasionally with friends, chances are it’s not having that much negative impact on your overall health and wellness.
But chronic, stressed-out drinkers need a way to deal with all that pent-up anxiety. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has some advice for dealing with stress.
Exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stress. For one, exercising literally releases “happy chemicals” (AKA endorphins) in your brain to improve your mood and reduce anxiety. That’s not all, though.
Exercise also helps us spend time focusing on something other than what’s stressing us out. Part of the problem with stress is that it’s easy to obsess over it once we feel it. By getting our minds off what’s stressing us instead of paying attention to physically moving, we can help distract ourselves positively.
Another benefit of exercise is improving self-esteem. Although a workout may be physically draining, knowing you’ve bettered yourself always feels good mentally. Boosting mood like that is a great way to help combat anxiety.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Being over-tired is a recipe for anxiety. According to the National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep has negatively affected overall mood and health, including heightened anxiety. In addition, anxiety can hurt sleep, leading to a feedback loop. Luckily, improving your sleep hygiene can help.
There are some ways that you can improve your overall sleep hygiene. For one, being consistent is key. You want to do your best to go to sleep and wake up simultaneously every day. You should also avoid eating large meals or drinking caffeine before bed. Drinking alcohol before bed is bad for sleep hygiene, too, although it’s a way to fall asleep for some drinkers. Finally, make sure your room has the right vibe. You want it to be dark, comfortable, and relaxing.
Take a Break from the News and Social Media
Don’t get us wrong, it’s definitely essential to be informed about events happening both in our communities and across the world. But a lot of what goes on in the world is scary and traumatic. And let’s be real for a moment here: a lot of mass media is trauma porn. How are you supposed to relax and de-stress when your brain is constantly being bombarded with that kind of content?
The CDC definitely recognizes that, too, so they recommend unplugging from the media when you’re feeling stressed. That includes social media, too. Don’t worry – those fire memes that one friend always posts will still be there when you get back.
Try Some CBD
While the CDC doesn’t include CBD as one of its ways to cope with stress, we feel like it deserves a place on this list. Numerous studies have suggested that CBD can reduce feelings of stress. It may even be able to help treat certain anxiety disorders. And for chronic topers who imbibe to cope, CBD could be a natural alternative to drinking.
If you’re looking for CBD products to cope with stress and help reduce drinking, consider trying Relive Everyday. With a stock of CBD oils, infused gummies, and more, we have plenty of CBD products to help you combat your stress. Putting down the bottle may not be easy, but we’re here to help you do it for Alcohol Awareness Month 2022.