Last Friday I flew to Flagstaff to visit my daughter. To alleviate my boredom while standing in line on the jet-way I was reading all the signs and advertising. I’m sure they count on this captive audience! One sign really struck me. It was a huge full color picture of two twenty something women holding their glasses and laughing. The caption offered a ticket upgrade that would include more space and “free beer, wine and liquor.” I couldn’t help but think that they had selected just the right photo for this. It seems that women are obsessed with alcohol!
A New Trend
I’m not quite sure when this trend started! When I was in my 20’s (eons ago), it wasn’t uncommon for college students to imbibe, especially on weekends. But if you knew anyone over 30 who drank regularly you likely considered them an alcoholic. It didn’t matter if they were drinking wine or “hard” liquor. It mattered that it was a regular occurrence.
In recent years I’ve noticed a dramatic uptick in drinking and the normalization of even nightly consumption. And it’s not just normalization it’s bordering on pressure. If you don’t drink regularly that seems to be considered bizarre. I’ve even noticed that my own drinking habits started to increase over time. In my mid-forties I found myself drinking about 2 glasses of wine a night. I can’t help but wonder what changed. What’s contributing to “wine culture”! Why are people suddenly drinking so much? Especially women? And what are the consequences of this?
If you spend even 5 minutes a day on social media, you have certainly come across at least one post related to drinking. This is particularly true of wine. Pictures of wine glasses the size of bottles with captions that read “I only have one glass” and t-shirts that say “Mama needs her wine” are everywhere. The implication that every woman grabs a glass of wine after a long day at the office or when the kids are tucked in is unavoidable! Are alcohol distributors paying for all this advertising? Their sales have significantly increased (by over 5% last year which is over $12 BILLION) and more and more distilleries open every year! This amount of exposure to wine culture implies that everyone is doing it. It’s an old school form of peer pressure on a massive scale!
With the rise of reality tv it’s clear that drinking is pervasive! I’m a HUGE fan of the Real Housewives franchise! In reality tv world, drinking excuses every behavior and horror. Rolling around on the floor of a restaurant, making out with a friend and screaming at people are all excused by over consumption! Apparently, alcohol gives you permission to be your worst self… PUBLICLY! To embarrass your family, humiliate your friends and generally behave terribly!
And it’s not just on social media and television! This ongoing exposure has seeped into our everyday lives. People talk about drinking like they are discussing dinner plans! Alcohol has become synonymous with adulting! Having a flask in your pocket or spiking your coffee used to be taboo. Now it’s not uncommon to see people imbibing at their children’s soccer games and school concerts. They aren’t even being clandestine about it.
People talk casually about their favorite craft beer, wine and mixed drinks like they are talking about the weather or sporting events. Sharing drunken disasters and hangover war stories is not uncommon for people even in their 50’s and beyond! This used to be considered immature and was taboo. Now it’s as if not having these stories makes you self-righteous or overly pious. You’re practically a puritan if you don’t have a drunken disaster story to share every few months! Especially in the summer and around the holidays when drinking is expected to be at it’s highest!
The Hard Truth
The truth is no matter how popular drinking has become, it’s just not ok! Especially not in the excessive amounts that are being promoted online, in television shows and within our own communities! Even the term intoxicated includes the word toxic! Alcohol damages our bodies and our lives. It impairs our judgement which prevents us from accomplishing our goals. When under the influence we are more impulsive and make poor decisions. It robs us of our sleep, our health and our wellness!
The New Stiletto
I can’t help but wonder if alcohol is just the new way of keeping a good woman down! Throughout history, women have consistently been impaired by some cultural norm. It seems that when one fades a new one rises to take its place. From foot binding to stilettos nothing has been able to stop the rise of women, but alcohol just might do the trick!
The Worst Reason to Drink
So, I hope you’ll consider putting down the drink and taking back your power! The truth is most of us drink at the very times we should avoid it the most!
- When you’re stressed or having a bad day
- As a form of avoidance
- To fit in or loosen up
- Mindlessly out of habit
These are the worst reasons to drink because we are using alcohol as a tool for escape. Rather than coping with the circumstances or making empowering choices we are drowning ourselves! And we’ll never build the life of our dreams if we continue to do this (let alone rule the world)!
If you’re drinking because you feel stressed or overwhelmed or you’re just having a bad day, consider doing something that will actually alleviate that. Go for a walk! Take a hot bath! Practice self care! You deserve a break! Getting some physical activity or pampering yourself are both great ways to blow off steam and get your parasympathetic (rest and relax) system to engage. You need those feel good hormones! You need to be able to self sooth! This is an important lesson for both you and your children! No substance will do a better job of this than your own body!
Oftentimes we are drinking to avoid dealing with something. It may be painful emotions, a task we don’t want to do or even not wanting to face a problem. This is so counterproductive though because drinking simply adds more problems to the pile!
When you drink you are likely to make poor choices, especially related to the thing you’re trying to avoid. And, because drinking is a depressant, you’re likely to end up in a downward spiral in your head that will make you feel terrible and powerless.
Rather than drinking to avoid your struggle consider meditating, journaling or mind mapping. We have the knowledge and ability with in us to address any situation. We just need to access it! Alcohol doesn’t help with that it just keeps us mired in an impossible situation and adds to it! Just deal with it! Eat the frog (as they say) and get it over with. Typically avoiding things prolongs the pain and makes it worse. Once it’s handled it’s over!
I’m not sure why we feel the need to be someone else in social situations. Why do we need to loosen up by drinking? Do we feel we need to change our personalities? Why can’t we have fun and be free without alcohol? It’s time for us to accept ourselves and dig into our inner child. Allow yourself to be who you are and to enjoy it without using alcohol as means. Learn to enjoy your own company and others will too! Remind yourself that you are amazing and awesome just as you are, and you don’t need mind-altering substances. They don’t improve you; they likely make you obnoxious! If you struggle to avoid alcohol during certain social functions, consider avoiding them. Not every gathering is right for you! Spend time doing things that nurture your soul. When you feel good doing what you’re doing you don’t need to or want to be drunk!
Breaking the Habit
My nightly drinking was simply a habit. Around dinner time my husband and I would open a bottle of red wine and pour a couple glasses. It was as much a habit as making my bed in the morning. We didn’t even think about it or discuss it. It just happened. Before I knew it one glass became two and it was happening every night. I wasn’t even aware of it but when I started waking up every day with headaches, I knew something was wrong. At first, I didn’t identify the wine as the cause. I’d like to say that as soon as I did, I stopped drinking, but the truth is I didn’t. It was such an automatic thing that I didn’t even notice I was doing it. I became concerned that I might be developing a drinking problem, so I chose to stop! I took up intermittent fasting and that put an end to it!
You don’t have to start fasting, but you do need to get rid of the auto-drinking that might be going on in your life. This can become particularly dangerous and even lead to addiction. If you believe you’ve developed a drinking problem, seek help to quit. It can be dangerous to quit alcohol cold turkey. But you MUST quit! Breaking habits can be difficult so replace your nightly wine drinking with a cup of chamomile tea or a hobby that keeps you occupied instead!
Benefits of Abstinance
Now, let me ask you, why are you so unhappy that you want to escape your life and what can you do to change that? This is really the key. Choosing to drink to address your problems in life doesn’t make them go away it just compounds them. Let’s discuss what would happen if you took the reins and worked to create the life you want! A life you don’t want to escape from! Could you potentially build something beautiful and amazing? I think so!
Many areas of your life will be profoundly impacted if you give up alcohol! You’ll sleep better, weigh less, alleviate a lot of stress and be far more productive!
People often think that alcohol helps them to sleep. While it might make you fall asleep faster it interferes with the quality of your sleep. You wake far more frequently if alcohol is in your system and it is much harder to get into the necessary REM or deep sleep cycles. In order to get quality sleep your body needs to be free of stressors. Due to the toxic nature of alcohol it causes stress in the body. Even if you feel sleepy when you drink you are not going to feel rested upon waking.
There are many better ways to induce sleep! Consider taking a bath, meditating or listening to soothing music before bed. It is also a great idea to turn off your screens an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from them prevents your body from producing melatonin which is necessary for falling asleep. Establishing a bedtime routine and waking at the same time each day is the best way to resolve sleep issues.
Since sleep is now considered a significant factor in weight loss, second only to nutrition, improving sleep quality will create results in this department too. But the bigger factor is the increased calorie consumption from alcohol. Not only does alcohol contain a significant number of useless calories but it also contains a lot of sugar! This increases our insulin levels and makes it impossible for our body to burn fat! In addition to that research has proven that we consume more calories and are more likely to indulge in unhealthy eating when we are under the influence. So, it’s a double whammy, you’re drinking garbage and you’re eating garbage! Of course, this is going to have unwanted consequences!
Giving up or even cutting back on alcohol will have a sudden and noticeable impact on your waistline!
I know that we feel like we alleviate stress when we drink. It just “takes the edge off”. But think about it, when was the last time your stress level was genuinely improved by alcohol? Perhaps you avoided dealing with it for a moment, but you didn’t actually resolve anything. Alcohol consumption is a poor coping skill! Due to the amount of stress alcohol causes physically it contributes to ongoing physiological stress response. Consuming alcohol does NOT decrease cortisol levels! In fact it increases them which means you’re stress level is higher than it was! This stress response damages our health and prematurely ages us (both inside and out)!
Finding healthy productive ways of coping with stress is an important part of life. It changes everything from health outcomes and longevity to financial success and relationship satisfaction. And it keeps you looking youthful and refreshed! So, face that stress head on! The best tool for alleviating stress is breath work! Deep breathing lets the body and mind know that everything is ok and alleviates our stress response!
Be More Productive
Clearly when you are sleeping better, heading toward your optimal weight and making healthy food choices and you’ve learned to master your stress level you’ll be far more productive. Alcohol is an obstacle on our path to productivity and success. It hinders our ability to see clearly and plan accordingly! Once you’ve given it up, you’ll have much more time and awareness to dedicate to building the life you love. This includes health, relationships, career, and family. Every aspect of your life will be improved by laying off the bottle!
Kick off those stilettos and put down the wine!
Stop fooling yourself into believing that drinking is working for you! It isn’t! It might be masking a lot of things, but it isn’t improving your situation! You’ve been sold a bill of goods! It’s the new trend that will keep women from living to their fullest potential! You can’t win the race in stilettos; you can barely even run! Likewise, you can’t win at life when you’re boozed up! So, kick off those heels, put down that wine and take care of yourself!
We MUST choose to care for ourselves in a way that supports us chasing our dreams, accomplishing our goals and building our best lives! We need to set better examples for our children and the women around us! It’s time to inspire each other, lift each other and pave the path to success together!
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