A bad day at work? Wine will make it better. Feeling stressed? Wine will make it better. Tired? Another glass, please. A promotion? Something to celebrate? Let’s drink to that. I would always think, wine will make this moment a bit better. This day a bit happier. I was using my drinking to self-regulate my emotions. It felt as if I couldn’t enjoy the night without my wine. I was dependent on it for some pleasure. I handed off my responsibility to self-regulate to my wine glass. Emotional regulation is an important component of mental health. When we outsource this to our drinking, we become less equipped to handle ourselves emotionally.
Have you noticed your anxiety, depression, or stress level increase since you started drinking? Are you feeling more overwhelmed? Do you quickly get upset, irritated, or emotional since your drinking increased? All the above happened to me.
Emotional regulation is an important component of mental health.
We lose the ability to handle our emotions when we give that over to our nightly drinking. This is a key skill my clients learn – to process their emotions fully without drinking. A mature brain can learn emotional management. We don’t stuff them, bottle them, bury them, or drown them. Our limbic system drives our emotions while our prefrontal cortex allows us to use reason, delay gratification, and experience the meaning beneath our emotions.
Emotions are powerful data coming from our body.
Our emotions tell us valuable information – like if a boundary of ours was crossed or if something needs to change or if we are right on track in life. Emotions give us information and we can learn to use this information in a helpful, productive way. In a way that leads us towards our goals, and not away from them.
Drinking rarely brings us closer to our goals.