My name is Karen Spivak and I’m a psychologist at the Pain and Wellness Centre. I’m sure many of you have been thinking about how to improve your health moving forward in 2015. I know I have. I’ve been thinking about how to be more active, how to fit more sleep into my schedule, and how to handle stress in a more efficient way. You may have similar goals or have other improvements in mind. I wonder if alcohol is one of them? Drinking can have an enormous impact on one’s health and in keeping an overall healthy lifestyle. Do you ever wonder if you are drinking too much? Binge drinking is when you drink a lot of alcohol over a short period of time. Many people will experience symptoms like feeling giddy, drunk, dizzy, nauseated, off balance, unable to focus or remember certain things and hung-over the next day. A lot of people will wave off binge drinking as a “way to let loose” but ask yourself: has this type of drinking affected your sleep, mood, concentration, motivation, relationships and/or physical health? Then, you may be drinking too much! Not everybody binges when they drink. You may have a pattern where you drink every day or almost every day, usually starting at the end of the work/school day and continuing until close to bedtime. The drinking may be more spaced out and you may not feel ‘drunk’ like in binge drinking but ask yourself: “when I drink like this, am I interested in doing anything productive? Does the alcohol make me less interested in going for a walk, to the gym, meeting with friends or doing chores around the house? Do I feel less interested in talking/interacting with my family? Does it interfere with my energy level, my sleep and the way I feel/think in the morning”? If yes, to any of these questions, then you may be drinking too much!
A healthier lifestyle needs to include low-risk drinking practices to optimize your physical, mental and emotional health. How should you start? Begin by paying attention to your drinking behaviours: What time of day to you drink? Who are you with? Are you drinking to cope with a bad feeling and/or stress? How many drinks are you planning to have? Research has shown that just by paying attention to your drinking behaviour can have an impact on changing it. Want more information? Do you feel that you may need help in making changes to your drinking practices?
Call me at the Pain and Wellness Centre (1-800-597-5733) and I would be happy to address your concerns.
Written by: Dr. Karen Spivak, Psychology