Daily Archives: 16/03/2014

Managing Anxiety Without Booze

The poster I shared about mental health got me reflecting.  In my day job I get to work with young people who are struggling with emerging mental health issues, that include the culprits that I struggle with, namely stress, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

I realise now that I struggled with these before I started to drink and I used alcohol to manage these thoughts and feelings.  Over the next few posts I’m going to give myself the advice I give the young people that I see in the hope that I might take it!  Maybe it will be helpful for you too?

So starting with anxiety the resource that I give out is taken from the brilliant Mind website.  Their resources are so good I’m not going to re-invent the wheel but share here the bits I highlight with my students:

“Anxiety can make you fearful, alert, on edge, irritable, and unable to relax or concentrate.  They way you think can be affected: if you fear that the worst is going to happen, you may start to see everything negatively and become very pessimistic.  To cope with these feelings and sensations you may feel tempted to start smoking and drinking to much, or misusing drugs.”

This was me to a T.  Drinking to help me relax and to mediate and self-medicate away any anxiety.  It was a double-edged sword as the times I was most anxious, so before job interviews for example, I would want to drink more and then shoot myself in the foot for the next day as I felt so rough (rebound anxiety anyone?!).  I learned this pretty early on and in my later drinking years would always not drink before these most anxiety provoking events.  Untreated anxiety can progress to panic attacks and I have only ever had one and it’s no fun so if you need help seek medical advice.

Mind recommend these tips to help you with anxiety:

Learn to control the symptoms using breathing and relaxation techniques

Assertiveness training

Complimentary therapies, such as yoga, meditation, massage, reflexology, etc

A healthy lifestyle so a healthy diet, plenty of sleep and exercise and a key sentence for me was “You may find it easier to relax if you avoid stimulants such as coffee, cigarettes and alcohol.”

And reaching out and talking to someone about what is worrying you.

When I was drinking I became anxious that I couldn’t cope without alcohol and this fear fed on itself making it even harder to walk away from the very substance that was creating the anxiety.  Now that I don’t drink my anxiety has reduced considerably as the booze was making it worse not better.  Who knew?! 🙂