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Holiday Cocktails Won’t Cure Seasonal Stress

During the holidays, stress levels seem to go through the roof. As travel plans, gift shopping, and family tensions all come together, it can send anyone into merry madness. But for some people, the pressures of the holiday season can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drinking. In fact, December is one of the most dangerous times of year for alcohol-related accidents and deaths, according to the American Addiction Centers, because there are more festive parties with drinks, more cars on the road, and more bad weather for driving.

But alcohol isn’t just an accident risk. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says drinking in excess any time of year can lead to:

  • Heart arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, stroke or high blood pressure
  • Liver cirrhosis or fatty liver
  • Pancreatitis
  • Increased risk for head and neck cancers, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer
  • A weakened immune system

If you’re someone who is prone to drinking when stressed, Simpler Psych experts recommend practicing self-care throughout the holidays. Take 30 minutes away from the family to enjoy a hot shower, or turn in early when needed. If you tend to drink more during the holiday season but are trying to cut back to improve your physical and mental health, here’s how you can do it:

  • Choose a festive, nonalcoholic beverage. Many hosts offer other drinks, such as sodas or holiday-themed mocktails, or you can bring your own.
  • Think of the ideal number of drinks you’d like to have and stick to it. The NIAAA recommends no more than four drinks per day/14 per week for men, and three per day/seven per week for women. Keeping those numbers in mind and not drinking more will help stave off negative health effects.
  • Tell your friends or loved ones you’re trying to drink less this season, and to please not offer you alcohol or pressure you to consume any. This will help you avoid any peer pressure situations ahead of time, and also provide you with accountability partners.

With a little bit of forethought, drinking doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your brain and body this holiday season. Then you can really enjoy making memories and sharing the moment with your loved ones.

If the holidays add to your stress and you find yourself using unhealthy coping mechanisms, you could probably benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. Now, you can connect with help right from your phone or tablet. Visit for more information. Your care, anywhere.