Alcohol plays a major role in our society. More than 85 percent of Americans report drinking alcohol at some point in their lifetime. What’s New Years without a glass of bubbly? Or a baseball game without a beer? Alcohol can ease our social anxiety and make us better dancers (or so we think).
But what happens when we drink too much of it?
Alcohol mood swings can affect your outlook on life and damper your happiness.
If you’re feeling depressed, in a funk or just want to make yourself feel better, you might want to hit the pause button on your daily alcohol consumption.
Alcohol Mood Swings: Are They a Thing?
If you’ve ever woken up the morning after a crazy night out, you probably didn’t feel as great as you did the night before. The booze blues (or anxiety and depression the day after drinking) is a real thing. When you drink, your body loses glutamate, which is a chemical that increases anxiety. The day after a night of overindulging, your body tries to recoup its glutamate losses and sends production of the chemical into overdrive — more glutamate equals more anxiety. Thus, the booze blues.
How Booze Affects Your Happiness: Reasons to Step Away From the Wine
A drink here and there probably won’t make too much of a difference on your mood. Sure, you may feel a bit happier when you’re drinking — or, you may feel miserable the day after a few too many. But drinking too much alcohol over time can affect your overall happiness.
Alcohol can change your brain’s chemistry and have an adverse effect on your mood and even your personality.
While it can increase the body’s feel-good chemicals, alcohol is also a depressant. Which means alcohol mood swings are more than just a myth.
Tips for Curbing Your Drinking
OK, now is a great time to mention that these tips are for anyone who is trying to cut back on drinking. If you’re dependent on alcohol or think you might have an addiction, you should seek professional help. And as always, check with your doctor!
Question Why You’re Drinking in the First Place
I know one of my biggest triggers for mindless drinking (and eating for that matter) is boredom and loneliness. It’s hard to feel bored or lonely when you’re numbing the pain with a burrito the size of your head — or, enjoying a wine-fueled dance party for one.
The next time you crave an alcoholic beverage, try to find your trigger. Some of the top triggers include:
- Hanging out in boozy settings (happy hour with coworkers and friends, parties, etc.)
- Stressful social situations (especially if you’re an introvert, like me)
If you’re someone who mindlessly drinks, the book Drinking to Distraction by Jenna Hollenstein is a great read.
Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT)
If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know what a dork I am for Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT).
EFT helps rewire your brain and thought patterns. Our brains are basically conditioned to think the same thoughts over and over — and to respond to stimuli and situations using only a handful of emotional responses.
If your go-to response to a bad day is eating your weight in pad see ew and drinking a bottle of Trader Joe’s bubbly (yes, that example is oddly specific for a reason), that’s how your brain is going to fix your problem. Every. Single. Time.
EFT uses the same pressure points used in acupressure and acupuncture to rewire these patterns.
You tap on pressure points (top of your head, side of your eye, under your nose, etc.) while making four different sets of statements, designed to help your brain rewire its thought process.
It’s mostly foolproof, so you can’t really mess it up. But if you want some guidance, I’d recommend downloading the Tapping Solution app, which contains dozens of guided tapping meditations. Each meditation is themed (turn around a bad day, clear negative energy picked up from others, resist cravings), so you can focus exactly on the thought processes that are most destructive.
The Tapping Solution book explains exactly how this system works.
The app offers several meditations to curb cravings — and one specifically to help combat alcohol cravings.
Drink Something Else Instead
I know. Snoozeville, right? But half the reason you drink could be related to the habit of drinking.
While you think you love the taste of that refreshing G&T, you might just be craving a cold, tasty beverage.
Add some bitters to a glass of tonic water (cut it with some sparkling water for extra hydration). Switch to non-alcoholic wine or beer (there’s actually some really good options out there).
Or, experiment with fizzy drinks and tea. When I cut booze out of my life, I start experimenting with different teas. It’s how I found Kava Kava tea, actually. I like this tea because it’s super relaxing, so you get a little bit of the boozy benefits of wine or a cocktail — without the dehydration and hangover.
Switch Up Your Social Setting
Do you sit around in the evening, watching TV? Do you head to happy hour with the same crew every night? If you find yourself indulging in mindless drinking, you might want to switch up your social setting.
If sitting in front of the TV is a trigger for your to crack open a beer, you might want to reevaluate your nightly Netflix habit, too.
Or, if you don’t want to feel ‘left out’ of the group by ordering iced tea instead of those cute cocktails with the umbrellas, organize an alcohol-free night out instead.
Find Other Ways to Relax
For some people, drinking is all about relaxation. But if a glass of pinot is your only go-to tool to relax after a crappy day, you’re missing out on an entire toolbox of techniques.
Meditation and EFT
Yes, I mention EFT a lot, but it definitely works. If you’re not into EFT, good ole meditation will work just fine, too.
CBD Oil has gained some serious traction in the past few years. Some people swear by it (my best friend started giving it to her dogs and was able to take them off their doggy Prozac), and some say they don’t notice any difference. Basically, it’s worth a try.
If you want to try some CBD at a lower price point before making the splurge, Feals offers a starter pack at $20 (and you can get $20 off a purchase by using this promo code!).
While you might consider exercise a stimulant, it can also help you relax. Exercising can help reduce levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. It forces you to take deeper breaths and promotes mental agility.
If you live in a state or country where cannabis is legal, you might want to try microdosing.
Microdosing is essentially consuming a very small amount of THC — just enough to get the stress-relieving benefits. But not so much that you feel like you just walked out of a Cheech and Chong marathon.
Microdosing may reduce stress and relieve some of the symptoms of depression.
While we need more research to determine the long-term effects of microdosing cannabis, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests it’s a helpful tool to combat stress and anxiety.
The only caveat? You want to be careful not to trade in one avoidance behavior for another.
Should I Take a Break From Alcohol?
If you feel like you’ve been mindlessly drinking or experiencing alcohol mood swings, you might want to take a break from booze.
Decide how long you want to abstain from drinking — and stick to it.
Some people choose a week, two weeks or a month. If you can sign up a few friends to abstain with you (Dry January is a popular time to reduce alcohol consumption), even better.
Taking a break from booze can not only help improve your mood, but abstaining from alcohol can also help you sleep better, make better food choices and boost your immune system. As an added bonus, abstaining from alcohol can also help you save money during a spending freeze!!
Do you suffer from alcohol mood swings? Let me know in the comments below!
Hey, hey! Just a few things before you leave… this post contains affiliate links, so if you buy something after clicking on a one, I might (fingers crossed!) just get a little commission. Good news: I only recommend products that I love! Which means you can feel good about all of my recs.
Also, you should know that I’m not a doctor. More importantly, I’ve never played one on TV. Always consult your doctor before taking any advice from me (or anyone else on the internets for that matter).
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.