May Is Mental Health Awareness Month
It wasn’t that long ago that talking about mental health was not a subject anyone wanted to talk about. There was a lot of shame attached with having mental health issues let alone being able to openly share about it. Although there is still shame attached and the stigma is still there—we have made progress.
People are being more open about their mental health issues and a lot of them are making their mental health a priority. They are openly discussing how important it is to have a therapist to work out life and life issues with. I am so grateful for this change in our culture. I have seen first hand how much people suffer because of the shame and guilt of admitting they needed help. Some lived like this for years before succumbing to therapy.
Alcohol and Mental Health
With mental health being more and more openly talked about and people becoming proud of the fact that they take care of their mental health and they have a therapist that they see regularly, what surprises me is that not many people are talking about the effects of alcohol on mental health.
I would have to speculate that the reason is because alcohol use in society is so prevalent. If you take time to observe it appears that the majority of social activities revolve around alcohol. Boozy, bottomless brunches, girls’ night out, 5 course meals with a special wine for each course, happy hour, the list goes on and on. The culture of alcohol is widely accepted everywhere. Now I am not advocating that people stop drinking. What I want to explore here is the fact that there is a very high rate of anxiety and depression world-wide. With the pandemic, Covid-19, coming onto the scene, the spikes in anxiety and depression have gone up. Women experienced an almost 28% increase in anxiety disorders worldwide and an almost 30% increase in major depressive disorders. While men saw an increase of 22% in anxiety disorders and 24% increase of major depressive disorders.
With so much anxiety and depression I want to ask the question: how much alcohol are people drinking to self medicate the way they are feeling?
Hangxiety Really Exists
Most people know that alcohol is a depressant but what does that mean? Does it mean that it simply depresses your functions when you are drinking or long after? How does it work as a depressant and what are the effects of the brain when alcohol is used frequently?
The answer is that just one night of drinking can bring on intrusive thoughts, anxiety, excessive stress, panic and fear among other uncomfortable emotions the next day. The reason being is that alcohol infers with the calming neurotransmitters called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Low levels of GABA can bring on these uncomfortable feelings and what some are calling hangxiety. Alcohol also depletes Serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates mood. So you are feeling low and full of anxiety after a night of drinking but then you go out again perhaps a few times a week. You are now in a pattern of depleting neurotransmitters that help you to feel your best, so no wonder you feel anxious and perhaps depressed and full of worry. What do you do now? The day of the hangover you can eat food that will increase Serotonin. You must eat foods that have Tryptophan in them because Tryptophan is what you need to ingest to increase the Serotonin levels in your brain. A few examples of these foods are: cheese, turkey, tofu, nuts and seeds, eggs, pineapple and salmon are wonderful choices. What can you do to increase your GABA? Yoga, mindfulness and meditation increase GABA as well as any other rigorous exercise.
Mocktails for Everyone
Well like I wrote earlier, I am not advocating that everyone quit drinking but what you can do to make sure your mental health mood is running more at top speed to cut back on drinking. Use alcohol for celebratory events and in moderation. A glass of something nice with a meal or over a conversation with friends. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, these are celebratory reasons to toast with alcohol.
What should I drink? There are many wonderful non-alcoholic drinks out there now, companies devoted to non-alcoholic spirits that have adaptogens in them. Some of these companies are Seedlip, Kin Euphorics, Anima Mundi is one of my favorite companies that specializes in adaptogens for longevity and everyday wellness.
What are adaptogens? Adaptogens are amazing botanicals that help the body restore balance and adapt to stress. They work by allowing the body to increase its resistance to multiple stressors that include physical, emotional, chemical and environmental. They make you feel great! You can have different effects such as calm, euphoric, and energizing. They not only alter your mood in a yummy way, they taste great and are great for you!! ☺
So if you are really serious about having good mental health, rethink the alcohol and try these yummy recipes.
1 teaspoon of Anima Mundi’s Euphoria
6 oz of Mineral Water
Squeeze of Lemon
My personal favorite! I make these at my picnics in the park.
Next of Kin
1 teaspoon Kin Euphorics (any flavor that resonates with you)
6 oz of Mineral Water
1 Sprig of Rosemary
Kin Euphorics recommends that you use warm almond milk to mix into their Dream Light.
Yummy! Here’s to Good Mental & Physical Health!!
Love, Peace & Happiness!
Kirsten Louise Cantley