Is Your Stress-Release Backfiring On You?

By Kim Banting,

It’s Friday afternoon and so many of us are looking forward to the weekend.  It’s been a busy week at work and your stress levels may be soaring. For some of us, a trip to the pub with co-workers is on the table to blow off some steam; but are after work drinks helping to lower your stress levels?

Having a couple of drinks can promote the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps to lower adrenaline and make you feel relaxed.  So after a stressful work week, we can feel sociable and far less serious, at least for a little while.  However, after about an hour or so, GABA levels lower which causes us to feel irritable, so maybe we have another drink, and another…The problem arises because too many drinks will suppress your GABA levels.  We don’t always notice this because after a session of drinking, we go to sleep while still under the effects of the alcohol.

Alcohol also disturbs your normal sleep cycles and interrupts dreaming.  Dreaming helps to refresh the brain.  You wake in the morning to find you are mentally tired and grouchy because of low GABA levels and dehydration.  You also feel sluggish as your body detoxifies from the alcohol you drank the night before.

The bottom line is, that 1 drink will help you to relax, but too many drinks will leave you more stressed in the long run.


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