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Are You Using Alcohol to Reduce Stress?

By John V. Chisholm III, MD
Department of Family Practice

It’s no secret that many Americans like to relax with a drink after a stressful day; but overuse of alcohol can cause many serious health problems. The Covid-19 pandemic has placed additional stress on almost everybody, leading some people to drink more. During Alcohol Awareness Month, we would like to show you some important ways to reduce stress without the danger of using alcohol:

Physical Activity:

Exercising regularly can increase overall health and bring about a sense of well-being. Unlike alcohol, exercising reduces stress in the long term. In fact, it is considered one of the best ways to reduce stress, according to the American Heart Association. From working out at home on an exercise bike to walking around the neighborhood, exercise can make a real difference in your stress level. Even activities such as gardening or dancing can be excellent ways to get your body moving and improve your mood. Remember to check with your doctor if you plan on taking on a new physical exercise regimen.

Engage in Mindfulness Techniques:

Mindfulness exercises, such as meditation and breathing techniques, are an excellent way to help your body and mind relax and release stress. Even just a three-minute exercise can be beneficial. You can learn more about mindfulness with smartphone apps such as Calm, Headspace and The Mindfulness App.

Stay Connected:

Having a strong support system can be a big help in avoiding drinking alcohol to relax. It’s very important to stay in contact with close friends and family during stressful situations, so be sure to check in with your loved ones by phone, Zoom, Facetime or other means.

Tap into Creative Expression:

Creative outlets, such as writing in a journal, drawing, music, and dancing, can provide a way to manage anxiety in a healthy manner. During the pandemic, many people have found new creative outlets to reduce their stress. From learning the guitar to planting a flower garden, chances are there’s a creative activity that you will enjoy.

If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol due to Covid-19 or other stressors, you are not alone. Fortunately, it’s easy to find help and effective treatments, including counseling and medications, exist. Talk to your primary care provider or call Optum’s emotional support helpline at (866) 342-6892. This helpline provides access to trained mental health specialists, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This free service is available to anyone in need of emotional support.

Are You Using Alcohol to Reduce Stress?

About John V. Chisholm III, MD

Although he started his career in environmental consulting and industrial hygiene, Dr. John V. Chisholm III decided going to medical school and becoming a family medicine physician would suit him best. “I remember answering people’s questions about their long-term health and that really sparked an interest for me in pursuing a career in family medicine and preventative medicine,” he explains.

At Reliant Dr. Chisholm sees adults...

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