I know a lot of people who drink to relieve stress. Can alcohol actually reduce stress?
- Just Wondering
Dear Just Wondering,
This is a great question. How many times have you heard of students who decide to end a stressful week by going out on Friday and getting as drunk as possible? Unfortunately, many college students think that one of the best and maybe only ways to relieve stress is through the unhealthy consumption of alcohol. Contrary to popular belief however, alcohol fails to reduce stress among individuals, and actually can increase or lead to stress in the future.
Many studies have been conducted on the relationship between alcohol and stress levels in the body. Although many people believe that alcohol is a stress reducer, it has actually been shown to increase the amount of stress a person feels. A connection has been made between alcohol consumption and an increase in the production of cortisol which causes symptoms of stress to occur.
Stress has also been shown to affect other areas of alcohol use. Stress can affect a person’s initial consumption of alcohol, the initiation of treatment of alcohol problems, and a person’s chance of relapse of alcoholism. Stress also has been linked to binge drinking among college students.
In turn, alcohol’s effects on a person’s functioning can be a cause of stress in an individual. It has been proven that after consuming alcohol, people have a harder time transferring short term memory into long term memory. Information learned in class the week before heavy drinking then becomes harder to recall resulting in trouble come exam time. Also, a person’s attention span can be shortened within two days of consuming alcohol. Partying all weekend can make Monday mornings even harder than they already are. Finally sleep cycles are interrupted after consuming alcohol so even though one may receive a full night’s sleep, he or she will not feel rested the next morning.
In addition to the specific effects of alcohol on mental health, a night of alcohol consumption can result in sickness, exhaustion, and frustration which can affect a person’s function for several days to follow. Instead of partying all night and feeling useless the next day, one could watch a movie or go out to dinner with friends. Both activities will relieve stress with the latter enabling increased productivity the following days.
The assumption that on a college campus the only way to relieve stress is to go out on weekend consuming alcohol is completely false. Many other alternatives can be found that are more beneficial to your physical and mental health and can increase your performance in all other areas of your life. Hopefully this website will provide you with a few healthy ways to relieve stress and relax.
For a complete list of ways to healthfully reduce stress, click here.
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