Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Alcohol named top stress reliever

A poll found people battle stress with up to four drinks on a typical evening at home

People would much prefer to unwind with a bottle of wine than spend time with their children or partner, according to a snapshot survey.

Some 61% of adults said drinking was their top choice after a stressful day, while 28% said spending time with their children helped them relax and 26% opted for talking with their partner.

The small poll of 825 adults, for the industry-funded charity Drinkaware, found people battle stress with up to four drinks on a typical evening at home.

More women than men (73% versus 26%) said stress was the main reason they had a drink at home at the end of the day, and 73% of women said they typically pour themselves a glass of wine to relax.

Some 61% of women surveyed have two or more large glasses of wine on a typical night - more than double the recommended daily unit guidelines for women. And 61% of men drink at least two pints of beer (around four units) on an average evening at home.

Among both sexes, 61% admit to drinking after a stressful experience and 73% after a bad day at work. This compares with just 15% who drink after a great day and 17% who hit the bottle after a good day at work. Of all those surveyed, 26% feel they drink too much on at least two occasions every week.

Donna Dawson, a psychologist specialising in personality and behaviour, said: "When it comes to drinking alcohol, the way the human brain works means we are naturally disposed to find a reason to indulge, particularly if we've had a tough day.

"An example of this is having a drink or two at home after work as a way to unwind from stress - in this scenario, the brain has decided that stress is 'bad' for us, and that alcohol, because it apparently relieves stress, 'is good'. So, at the end of the day, we may know that the second or third glass of alcohol is not really needed or even desired, but the brain has already rationalised that if one glass felt good, then more will feel even better.

"What we need to do is recognise this is faulty brain-reasoning at work and take more conscious control of why, when and how much we drink, as well as the health harms that alcohol can cause."

Women are advised to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week while men should have no more than 21.

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