Something I’ve decided I wanted to be more vocal about this year is alcohol (you can listen to more of my thoughts in this podcast episode). And that’s because I rarely ever see alcohol consumption questioned…honestly it’s glorified in our society. We use alcohol to celebrate, mourn, unwind, and we even use alcohol to find courage. It’s in our movies, tv shows, music, and social media. It surrounds us and teaches us from an early age that alcohol should be part of our weekly routine. And I noticed this more than ever in 2020. People created memes, reels, stories, and pages all dedicated to drinking because 2020 sucked so damn bad. I would watch person after person create social media content of them reaching for a wine bottle after each devastating blow hit the media in 2020. And using alcohol as a coping mechanism became this ongoing joke between everyone going through the 2020 trauma together, almost uniting everyone in their pain.
But for me, it made me angry. Much of our learning and understanding of the world comes from social media these days, whether we like that or not. So when we show our peers that we are using alcohol as a coping mechanism during a stressful time, we are showing those people that it is a normal to combat our anxiety and depression by consuming something that is quite literally a depressant. Think about that for a second. Alcohol slows down brain functioning and neural activity, which means the more you drink it, the more you dull the senses, which is why people drink during times of stress. But as the alcohol wears off and the hangover sets in, anxiety and depression come back even more heightened than before. And people seem to ignore this and continue to follow the same behavior over and over again, causing more and more issues.
I want to share my thoughts on alcohol not to vilify it, but to hopefully help others question what they are turning to alcohol for. You’ll see many moms on social media with their drinks that say “Mommy’s Juice” and they are drinking by 11am with moms rallying behind them in the comments. Or you’ll see a group of friends take a friend out to drink all night long to cope with their recent break up (been there). But what about REAL coping mechanisms? What about looking deeper at what we are going through, what we can and cannot control, and what steps we can take to keep our bodies healthy during times of stress? Instead of drinking, how about making a nutritious meal? Instead of cocktails, how about going on a walk? Instead of wine, how about meditation?
But I get it – none of these things are sexy…or easy. Telling someone to exercise to keep their mood high isn’t as sexy as telling someone to pour a glass of pinot. It’s just not. And we like sexy. But I’m here to be the black sheep of society and tell you the opposite of what everyone else seems to be shouting – alcohol is terrible for you. You can come at me with all your “wine has antioxidants” bullshit and I will let you know that LOTS of clean foods do, too. And those clean foods won’t lead you to feeling even more depressed than before. Those foods will actually lead you to creating a healthier gut which may even help with your anxiety and depression. (And by the way, I’m not a doctor or a medical professional so you obviously don’t need to listen to me, but if any of your medical professionals are telling you to drink alcohol to help you cope with your issues, you should probably drop them, as well.)
I feel very strong about this topic because I have been the person for years and years who has been made fun of for not drinking. When I began competing in CrossFit at 23 years old, alcohol didn’t fit into my goals. Sure, I would drink from time to time, but I found myself feeling lazy, lethargic, and had extreme anxiety for days afterwards. Not only did it impede my goals in the gym, but it slowed down my progress when it came to my small business. So I stopped my random alcohol binges and stood strong when I would get peer pressured to drink. Leaving behind those drunk nights didn’t lead me to feeling FOMO or loss, it led to more confidence, better performance in the gym, more happiness, better productivity, and a more successful business.
And just FYI, I’m not sober. I had half a glass of prosecco at dinner the other night and a margarita a couple weeks ago. And no, I’ve never dealt with alcoholism in my family or even with my friends. I just want to be the person who makes you look deeper at your choices, just like I hope others would do for me. And believe me, with my blog, PEOPLE DO. I want to be the voice that shares a different idea than the narrative that is so commonly shared on social media these days. I want to be the person who tells you that it is OK to not drink when everyone else is drinking around you. I want to tell you that it is OK to feel like you’re the outsider. And that it is OK to deal with stress and anxiety through healthy coping mechanisms. I want you to know that you are not alone when you choose to not drink.
I wanted to share this post and talk more openly about not drinking/limiting alcohol because I hope that me sharing this makes you look more at your own alcohol consumption, how it affects you, and how it may affect your friends and family. Is it truly benefiting you and the people around you? Is it making you more active and more productive? Is it keeping your anxiety at bay when the world feels completely upside down? For me personally, alcohol does none of these things. It makes me feel worse off than I did in the first place. And even though I’m looked at like the boring one at events or gatherings, I don’t care because I know that not drinking will lead me to a healthier and happier life long term. I hope sharing my own experience helps you find your own healthy balance with alcohol or at least helps you feel like less of an outsider when you decide to not drink. But most of all, I hope that this post makes you look deeper at your own coping mechanisms and helps you look at dealing with stress in a whole new way. Alcohol has its time and place, but it shouldn’t be used to numb the world around us. Life is way too beautiful to not see it for all it is…even in 2020.