Anxiety is a natural reaction in our bodies along with stress, excitement, and anger. It can be a good thing that pushes us to be better and more successful. However, if we ignore our anxious feelings, they can cause many problems in our everyday lives. Feeling excited about a new promotion, looking forward to a holiday party or feeling eager for a test is not the same as being consumed by anxiety and it is important to know the difference. Anxiety can cause many long-term physical and mental health issues. There is one bad habit that can make it 10 times worse: alcohol consumption.
There are many healthy ways to reduce anxiety. One of the unhealthiest alternatives is alcohol. Although it may be hard to believe, drinking alcohol can actually make anxiety worse. Alcohol addiction has been shown to cause depression, stress and increased anxiety even in short-term periods of time. These three unhealthy mental issues usually come tied together and eventually lead to many unhealthy side effects and illnesses.
It is common for people that have Social Anxiety Disorder to drink alcohol. Alcohol has historically aided people with shyness and apprehension in social situations. However, the effects of alcohol on the brain are not positive and do not help anxiety in the slightest. When consuming alcohol, levels of serotonin drastically change in the brain, worsening anxiety. Using alcohol as a short-term treatment for anxiety will lead to dependence and potentially, an addiction.
Alcohol and Anxiety – An Unhealthy Solution
As mentioned above, there are a wide variety of healthy effective solutions for anxiety, but alcohol is not one of them. 7 percent of Americans experience alcohol-induced anxiety according to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). This type of anxiety can last for several hours to days. 20 percent of people who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder also suffer from alcohol abuse and dependence.
A hangover caused by overconsumption of alcohol causes low blood glucose, nausea, dehydration, and dizziness; not just a simple headache. Alcohol dependence can mean not being able to stop and craving alcohol at times when it’s inappropriate like mornings and more frequently than is normal. Dependence or abuse of alcohol worsens countless numbers of illnesses. It is strongly recommended to not drink when experiencing any type of physical or mental illness.
One of the long-term consequences of alcohol abuse includes mental health disorders which are chronic depression, stress, and anxiety. Alcohol withdrawal can cause vomiting, hallucinations, dangerous heart rate, sweating, trembling hands and limbs, and seizures.
Alcohol withdrawal also causes higher levels of anxiety if you consume alcohol for long periods of time and suddenly stop. It is strongly recommended to examine your relationship with alcohol. Do not use alcohol as a short-term solution in treating any kind of mental illness. It can worsen the illness and cause countless dangerous and unhealthy side effects.
3 Ways to Deal with Anxiety in a Healthy Way
Alcohol is not a good solution for anxiety or any type of mental illness. Many addictions only worsen illnesses and make them harder to treat. However, there are a wide variety of solutions for people who experience anxiety. They are not just limited to strong medications. Depending on your preferences and your level of anxiety, you can choose a solution that works for you that will handle your anxiety in a healthy and efficient way. Alternative solutions for anxiety include:
Exercise – Staying active not only keeps you looking great on the outside, but it also promotes positive moods and emotions. Exercise has been shown to help with depression, stress, and anxiety. This healthy solution relieves anxiety in an incredible way and lasts hours after working out. If you feel anxious about something, get up and move your body. Exercise doesn’t have to be 3 hours of hard workouts so don’t worry. If you enjoy running, take a small run or jog around the neighborhood. If you prefer sports, play 20 minutes and get your mind off your anxiety. Any type of physical activity is great for anxiety and it is incredibly effective.
Go Coffee-Free – For many people, reading the word “coffee-free” sounds like the end of the world. Coffee is wonderful but it can worsen anxiety. Caffeine can cause jitters and nervousness which is not good for people who experience chronic anxiety. It can also cause panic attacks and worsens panic disorders. If you are a coffee lover but you want to help your anxiety, look for other caffeine-free alternatives for those sleepy mornings. You will see a big improvement. Chamomile tea is a great alternative to coffee. It actually calms your nerves and can help with anxiety.
Natural Essential Oils – Aromatherapy boosts moods, helps you relax, sleep better and reduces heart rate and blood pressure. The best natural essential oils for anxiety are lavender, grapefruit, ylang-ylang, bergamot and grape seed oils. You can use these oils by inhaling them directly, applying them topically to your clothing or skin or adding them to a warm relaxing bath. Let your feelings of anxiety float away with the steam. Make sure to check with your doctor and see if you are allergic. Check if any of these oils are compatible with your skin type.
Everyone is different and not everyone needs the same solution to a problem. However, the first step to getting better is identifying the problem and wanting to fix it. Find what is perfect for you and stick to that solution.
Do not hesitate to speak to a professional about your anxiety and also let your loved ones know what you are experiencing. Support, love, and compassion are treatment in themselves. Never forget you are not alone. Keep in mind that there are options. You can tackle anxiety in healthy ways that will enrich your life.