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Published on June 21, 2021

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Energy Levels

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5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Energy Levels

From social gatherings, sporting events to religious ceremonies, people have been drinking alcohol throughout history. In fact, evidence suggests that cavemen intentionally fermented fruits and grains to make alcoholic beverages. Nevertheless, although we may never know exactly where, when, or how it all started, the simple fact remains that people all over the world continue to drink alcohol to this day.[1]

Initially, in moderation, alcohol can make you feel more outgoing, but in excess, it can essentially hold you back from wanting to go anywhere or be near anyone at all. So, before you got out and indulge in another glass of your favorite Zinfandel from New Zealand or perhaps try and cool off with an ice-cold pint of Guinness at the Irish pub around the corner, you may want to take the time to carefully consider some of the potential side-effects of drinking alcohol, especially how it can affect your mood, judgment, and energy levels.

As a professional addiction counselor and interventionist, I have worked with a lot of good people over the past twenty years who have found themselves doing a lot of bad and questionable things while under the influence of alcohol. Approximately 28% of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States involved alcohol-impaired drivers, and according to the World Health Organization, approximately 55% of perpetrators of domestic violence drank alcohol prior to the assault.[2][3]

Although each case may have a unique set of circumstances, many of the underlying factors leading to alcohol abuse remain the same. For example, most people who have experienced alcohol abuse issues started off by drinking recreationally—in other words, drinking once in a while and at specific events. Then, over a period of time and with continued use, they developed a tolerance for it, meaning that more and more alcohol was needed to achieve the desired effect, such as intoxication.

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Furthermore, given the impact of alcohol on the central nervous system with prolonged use, your body can actually become dependent on it to function, albeit dysfunctionally.

Many of my clients who have suffered from alcohol dependence have often reported that they needed to have a drink of alcohol just to get out of bed so that they could steady their nerves and get unstuck. As a result, alcoholics tend to spend a significant amount of time and energy making sure that an ample supply of alcohol is readily available, while at the same time, significantly reducing time spent engaging in more productive and healthy daily activities, such as work, personal hygiene, proper nutrition, exercise, and interpersonal relationships.

Concerning statistics aside, the reality is that alcohol use is not going away anytime soon. Prohibition is not coming back. Therefore, in my opinion, it is important to learn how to live with it rather than trying to vilify its presence or simply pretending that the problem does not exist, whether you are interested in having a drink or not.

With that being said and without trying to ruin anyone’s upcoming party plans, if you are focused on the importance of maintaining control over your mood, judgment, and level of energy, hopefully, you are also ready to take a closer look at how alcohol can affect your body.

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1. Alcohol Increases Risk of Depression

To start off with how alcohol affects the body, alcohol is classified as a depressant because it appears to reduce arousal and stimulation of the central nervous system. Although it may initially elevate your mood as it begins to interact with dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain, over a period of time, with continued use and your emotional defenses down, you can end up feeling overwhelmingly depressed as the alcohol begins to deplete those chemicals from your brain, leaving you considerably more vulnerable to emotional distress.[4]

Similar to the chemical version of a self-destructive self-fulfilling prophecy, the more alcohol you drink, the more depressed you feel and, therefore, the less active you become as your energy level is depleted.

2. Alcohol Reduces Your Energy Level

There are a variety of ways in which drinking alcohol reduces your energy level. First and foremost, alcohol initially raises your blood sugar level, then as insulin is released into your bloodstream, your blood sugar level rapidly decreases, making you feel weak. Although you are taking in plenty of fluids when you drink alcohol, you will typically find yourself urinating more frequently as your kidneys are working overtime to flush the alcohol out of your body. This then leads to dehydration, which in turn depletes your level of energy as an overabundance of vital minerals and nutrients are flushed away.

Furthermore, alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce the level of melatonin in your body, which is a critical element in regulating your circadian rhythm, thereby interfering with your internal sleep-wake cycle. And without an adequate amount of rest, your endurance and stamina will decrease if your body is unable to recharge.[5]

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3. Alcohol Reduces Your Reaction Time

So, with all that being said, alcohol does not actually make you feel depressed simply by drinking it, but rather alcohol slows down messages between the brain and the body. It essentially reduces your reaction time.

At first, you may feel more active and engaged, then after continued drinking, you may begin to feel more lethargic and unbalanced as you depress your central nervous system with continued consumption. Recent studies have shown that alcohol has actually been directly linked to changes in brain chemistry and composition with little or no medicinal benefit at all.[6]

4. Alcohol Reduces Your Inhibitions

Nevertheless, not all of the effects of alcohol are necessarily bad, at least not right away. In moderation, alcohol has been known to reduce your inhibitions in relation to your declining reaction time. In other words, with alcohol, your brain may not necessarily have enough time to effectively process anxiety that you might have otherwise experienced in a similar situation without it, for example, meeting new people at a party or perhaps even spending time with your in-laws. Unfortunately, however, reducing your inhibitions can also reduce your ability to know when it is okay to have another drink, which can ultimately lead to lapses in judgment.

5. Alcohol Impairs Your Judgment

Recent studies have shown that prolonged alcohol use can actually alter the structure of the brain, especially in the area of the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for judgment and reasoning. As a result, there is a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and making bad decisions, such as driving under the influence and drinking on the job.[7] Furthermore, alcohol is considered a gateway drug because using it can lead you down the path to using even more potent mood-altering substances since your judgment is impaired.

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Additionally, given the fact that most of us are hard-working people who need to provide both financially and emotionally, we have to be able to move swiftly and with precision when the opportunity presents itself, while at the same time, we have to be able to provide love and attention to the people that we care about. So, without actually avoiding a fun night out with your friends, you might want to simply reconsider ordering another cocktail at the club, especially if you want to stay far away from all of the potentially unpleasant consequences associated with poor judgment, such as legal, financial, medical, and family issues.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, most people who have a drink every so often will more than likely never experience any serious consequences associated with alcohol abuse. Some may not even be aware of how alcohol affects their bodies. Nevertheless, educating yourself on the potential impact of regular alcohol use may, in fact, prevent that from actually happening.

So, whether or not you condone or condemn drinking adult alcoholic beverages, the reality is that alcohol has been around for thousands of years, and there are no plans that I am aware of to stop making it as it continues to be served all over the world at family gatherings, sporting events, religious ceremonies, or almost everywhere you look. Nevertheless, given the fact that drinking alcohol can directly impact your mood, judgment, and energy level, I firmly believe that everyone should be aware of the effect that it can have on you before consuming it.

Although alcohol can reduce your inhibitions, making you feel just a little more outgoing and engaging, with an initial artificial boost of energy, over time, and with continued use, it can lead to bouts of depression as it impairs your judgment and depletes your energy level.

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More Articles on How Alcohol Affects the Body

Featured photo credit: Taylor Brandon via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Evan Jarschauer

Professional Mental Health Interventionist & Licensed Psychotherapist

How To Cope With Traumatic Events And Stress How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind 5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Energy Levels How To Recognize the Most Common Types of Mental Illness 5 Ways Meditation Improves Your Daily Focus and Concentration

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Last Updated on October 20, 2021

7 Daily Stress-Management Rituals that Improve Your Productivity

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7 Daily Stress-Management Rituals that Improve Your Productivity

If you’re trying to be as productive as possible, stress will always be your biggest obstacle—and it’s not an easy one to overcome. To do it, you’ll need to develop a plan to make stress management a core component of your daily routine, but doing that takes commitment. The good news is that if you succeed in learning how to manage stress, you’ll unlock your potential and be well on your way to peak performance. But first, you need to learn how to make it happen.

The best way to do that is to learn about and integrate some stress management rituals into your daily routine. To help you get started, here are seven tips on how to manage stress and improve your productivity.

1. Give Yourself an Extra Hour in the Morning

If you were to do some research on some of the world’s most successful—and productive—people, you’d notice that many of them have one thing in common: they tend to be early risers. Apple’s Tim Cook gets out of bed before 4 AM each day.[1] Michelle Obama is already getting in her daily workout at 4:30 AM.[2] Richard Branson gets up at 5:45 AM each day, even when he’s vacationing on his private island.

There’s a good reason why they all do it—once you reach the point in your day that your work schedule kicks in, you no longer have control of your time. That means you have a limited opportunity every morning to reduce your stress by taking care of the things you need to do without anyone making other demands on your time.

What’s important about this isn’t the time you get up. The important part is getting up early enough to start your day without feeling rushed. For most people, getting up an hour earlier than you normally would is sufficient. This should give you ample time to complete your morning tasks without having to hurry or fall behind.

But when you implement this ritual, be careful. Don’t do it at the cost of getting the right amount of sleep each night. If you do, you might increase your stress instead of relieving it. Sticking to a proper sleep schedule and getting enough sleep is, in itself, a critical part of stress management.[3]

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2. Determine and Review Your Most Important Tasks Each Day

If there’s one productivity tip that almost all experts agree on, it’s that you should spend some time before bed each night to write down your three most important tasks for the following day. But if you want to maximize that practice and turn it into a stress-buster, you should turn that notion on its head.

Instead, you should do this as a part of your morning routine. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s that our always-on, always-connected business world means your priorities can change overnight, literally. You may list your top priorities, go to sleep, and wake up to find them woefully out of date. That means the best time to set your priorities for the day is in the morning. This will keep those priorities up to date and let you think about them before the distractions of the day begin. But don’t stop there. You should take some time before bed each night to review that day’s priorities.

Ideally, you’ll be able to check them off as accomplished. If not, though, think about what prevented you from getting to them. This is your chance to figure out some of the common daily interruptions that get in your way. Chances are, these also cause some of your stress. So, spend the time before bed game-planning how to remove those interruptions and stressors from your day. If you make this a habit, you’ll be more productive and far less stressed out in no time.

3. Save Your Emails for Later in the Morning

Another tip on how to manage stress is to save your emails for later. One of the key causes of stress comes from our inability to cope with the unexpected. If you stop to think about it, what is your most prominent source of near-constant unexpected information every day? You guessed it—it’s your email.

Now, you can’t simply ignore your email. The only thing you can do about your email is to learn how to manage it most effectively. But no matter what you do, it’s going to remain a source of daily stress and distraction. That’s why you should make a habit out of giving yourself an email-free hour or two at the beginning of each day’s schedule.

In that time, try to tackle one of your daily priorities and get it taken care of. Your email will still be there when you’re done. And when you do get to it, you’ll do so in a much better frame of mind knowing that you’ve already gotten some real work done before having to deal with anything unexpected. That alone will improve your mood and reduce the amount of stress you’ll feel—no matter what’s waiting for you in your inbox.

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4. Take a Walk After Email Time

Since you’ll have to deal with your email sooner or later, there’s no way to completely avoid the stress that will come with it. Although you’ll be in a better frame of mind after putting off your email to get some real work done, you’ll still feel some stress when you get to it. That’s why you should make a post-email walk a part of your daily routine.

Taking a walk is one of the best ways you can relieve stress. It’s a form of meditation that will put you back into the right condition to be productive, and there’s no better time to do it each day than after taking care of your emails.

Ideally, you’ll want to take a walk outdoors, and preferably in the most natural setting possible. If you’re in an urban environment, a nearby park will suffice. Studies have demonstrated that walking in such environments for as little as 20 minutes per day leads to an overall reduction in the body’s cortisol level.[4]

Cortisol, if you’re not aware, is your body’s main stress hormone. It helps regulate your blood pressure, energy levels, and even your sleep cycle. Every time your stress goes up, cortisol production also increases, throwing your body into chaos. So, taking a walk right after dealing with your email will help you to relax, reset, and get ready to be productive for the rest of the day.

5. Reserve Time to Research and Plan a Vacation

By now, everybody knows that taking vacations every now and then can improve your productivity and lower your stress level. But did you know that even thinking about a vacation can help you to reduce your stress? It may sound strange, but it’s true.

A Cornell University study in 2012 found that the anticipation of a positive experience—like a vacation—can reduce stress and make you measurably happier. It logically follows, then, that adding to that anticipation each day can maximize the stress-relieving effects of a vacation.[5]

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To do it, set aside at least a half-hour each day to research or plan an upcoming vacation. You can read about destinations. You can research airfares. You can even look at places to stay in locations you’re interested in visiting. And if you’ve already got a vacation booked, use the time to take a deep dive into what your destination has to offer.

This is an especially important daily ritual to observe right now, while the COVID-19 pandemic may be limiting your vacation options. If it’s been a while since you’ve been able to take a trip, the act of planning your next vacation will have a therapeutic effect. With vacation rental bookings still hovering below 50% in most major markets, there’s no doubt that the vast majority of people are in desperate need of their next stress-relieving vacation.[6]

6. Create a Shutdown Ritual to End Your Day

Another simple yet effective way to manage stress is to create a shutdown ritual. Just as it’s important to get your day off to a stress-free, unhurried start, you’ll want to do the same when the day is through. It’s because after spending each day in a reactive mode—dealing with the unexpected—you need to get back into a proactive mode to relax.

Studies have shown that having the perception of control over what you’re going through acts as a buffer against negative stress.[7] In other words, feeling like you can manage even a small chunk of your own time counteracts the stress from the parts of your day when you can’t.

This also means that your shutdown ritual can be whatever you want it to be. You might write in a journal, get in a quick light workout, or prepare your outfit for the following day. As long as you’re the one in complete control over what you’re doing, anything goes. Just make sure that you include the aforementioned review of your daily priorities somewhere in your routine!

7. Set a No-Screens Rule to End Your Day

Even though your shutdown routine is important, there’s one more ritual to include before bedtime that will help you manage stress. Spend the last 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to go to sleep observing a strict no-screens rule. Not only will this give you time to disconnect from the stresses of your day, but it will also allow your body to make a transition into a proper sleep mode.

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The screens we use—smartphones, tablets, laptops—all emit a wavelength of blue light that disrupts our sleep patterns. It’s the same type of light that our bodies recognize as daytime, so seeing it is like telling your brain that it’s the wrong time to be asleep.[8]

By eliminating all sources of this type of light before bedtime, you’ll increase your odds of getting restful, deep sleep. And since getting proper sleep is one of the best ways to manage your stress, this is the perfect way for you to end each day.

Final Thoughts

Although a totally stress-free lifestyle would lend itself to achieving maximum productivity, not many people will ever manage to live that way. So, the next best thing is to work some or all of these daily stress-busting rituals into your day to minimize the inevitable stress instead. Doing so will put you in the best possible position to succeed. And there’s no better antidote for stress than to make the most out of every day no matter what it has to throw at you.

More Tips on How to Manage Stress

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

Reference

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