Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.Arthur Somers Roche
It is not as uncommon as we might think that women who experience anxiety turn to alcohol to try to alleviate it. Alcohol is, unfortunately, an anxiety reducer. How many times have you heard yourself, or someone else say, “I want a glass of wine,” or “a mojito”, to relax, or to unwind?
This is not to say that each of us who periodically drink alcohol is an alcohol abuser, or an alcoholic. It just may mean that we may want to explore what our motivation for drinking is, and whether alcohol is the main way, or the only way, that we choose to reduce our anxiety.
Unfortunately, women are prone to suffer from anxiety more so than men. In a recent study published in the June issue of the journal Brain and Behavior, researchers reported that women were nearly twice as likely as men to have an anxiety disorder.
Women Want to be the Ultimate Multi-Tasker
There are many personal, or individual, reasons women might begin to develop a problem in dealing with anxiety. Many women react to stress differently than men, and may use different coping mechanisms. Although in a culture where women’s roles continue to expand and increase, an added pressure comes along with each new role and responsibility.
Women strive to be successful in each role as mother, wife, employee etc. We desire to be considered successful at home, and in our career, all the while maintaining an impeccable appearance to meet society’s expectations. It’s a lot of pressure and most women don’t want to admit that we can’t always do it all.
No One Likes Feeling Anxious
Anxiety produces a physical, and often unpleasant response in our bodies. Our instinct is often to alleviate that distress as quickly as possible to return to a state of relaxation and well-being. What sometimes happens is that we may feel anxious, or stressed out, and we have a drink and notice that we are suddenly feeling less anxious. This immediate relief then gives us the message that alcohol reduces and medicates our anxiety.
Downing Some Liquid Courage
Having a drink or two to relax is usually considered socially acceptable. Just one glass of wine might turn into two, or three until it requires an increasing amount of alcohol to achieve the same alleviation…until we might not be able to find the relief we seek at all. The comfortable relaxation we used to acquire becomes elusive, but we may continue to seek it since we may not know any other way to lessen our anxiety.
If we begin to require more than that to get through the next event, meeting—day, we don’t usually feel comfortable admitting this dependence. We may feel very alone in our internal struggle.
We Are Not Alone
“I have spent my entire life telling other peoples’ stories. This one is my own, and is incredibly personal: the burden and loneliness of the secret drinker.” ~ Elizabeth Vargas
For more tips on dealing with stress and anxiety, please click on the link below for my complete article.
My wish for you today is that you are able to determine a method to deal with stress and anxiety in an emotionally healthy way so that you can enjoy each day to the fullest.
-by Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling