Holiday Stress: Using Food Or Alcohol To Cope

by Doc Orman, M.D.

In a previous post on hidden causes of holiday stress , I briefly mentioned Using Food Or Alcohol To Cope as one of the common causes to be aware of.

In this post, I’m going to expand on the drawbacks of this popular coping strategy in a little more detail.

During the Holiday Season, two things are in much greater abundance:

1)    Opportunities to experience stress; and

2)    Opportunities to use food and/or alcohol to cope with any stress you might be struggling with.

If you tend to use food and/or alcohol to cope with your stress during the rest of the year, you may find this coping strategy difficult to resist during the Holiday Season.  After all, food and alcohol are in plentiful supply during the holidays, and it is expected, albeit sometimes socially “required,” that you indulge to fit in with the crowd.

What’s Wrong With This Popular Coping Strategy?

While using food or alcohol to cope with your stress might seem like a good idea, on deeper reflection you should be able to appreciate that it’s not a great coping strategy.

Yes, it does seem to “work” in the short run, by temporarily relieving or masking your feelings of being stressed, but is it really a good or healthy coping strategy in the long run? 

Even in the short run, using alcohol in excess can lead to many added problems, such as accidents, unintended sex, obnoxious or otherwise offensive behaviors, and many other indiscretions.

And habitual overeating to deal with stress, while not immediately harmful, can obviously lead to obesity and all its many unwanted consequences.

An Even Bigger Cost

There’s an even bigger cost, however, to using these popular coping strategies, and this is what most people miss (or intentionally disregard).  This cost comes from robbing yourself of the opportunity to learn how to utilize more effective, and less harmful, coping strategies.

NOTE: Click on either of these two links to grab a copy of my free e-book “10 Good Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Manage Stress” located on my Facebook Page Stress Relief Tips.

Yes, using food and/or alcohol to relieve your stress may make you feel a little  more relaxed in the short-run.  But did you really learn anything about how to better cope with your stress in the process?  Did you learn anything new about what might be causing your stress to occur? And did you learn anything new about how to identify these causes and do something about them, so you won’t be so stressed, and so dependent upon food or alcohol, in similar situations in the future?

The answers to all of these questions is a big “no” when you make it your habit to use food or alcohol to deal with your stress.

Be on the lookout for this very common tendency during the Holiday Season. While it may not be easy to change your habitual coping strategies immediately, if you make the commitment to learning how to do this, you may find that you’ll have much less reliance on these two problematic coping strategies in the future.

Here’s a link to my free holiday stress relief e-book on Facebook.

Here’s a link to some additional information about how to cope with holiday stress from ABC News.



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