Week seven: The worst kind of cocktail

Millie Gooch | May 2023 | 7 minutes

The wonderful thing about the growing conversation around mental health is that people are slowly realising the negative impact that drinking can have on our minds. Because, not only can alcohol create problems for our mental health, but mixing it with any pre-existing conditions such as OCD, ADHD or GAD can actually make symptoms worse.

I’m Millie Gooch, founder of the Sober Girl Society, here to bring you some brilliant tips on tackling Sober Spring – the three-month break from alcohol.

Still, if you’ve recently stopped drinking you may find that initially, symptoms may get slightly worse. Whilst this won’t be a forever thing, looking after your mental health when you stop or take a break from drinking should be an absolute priority. Here are my top-tips for doing just that.

1. Speak to your GP

Chatting to a medical professional about your mental health should really be your first point of call. They might refer you for therapy or decide on a course of medication. I have done both and there should be no shame in either. Waiting times for the NHS can be discouraging but there are lots of services you can make use of in the meantime such as free support helplines and online live chats. And if you can afford to, there are also private therapy options too.

2. Get moving in a way that you enjoy

Exercise can often be the last thing you want to do when you feel low or anxious but the benefits are undeniable and scientifically proven. My best advice is to do things that you enjoy. Personally, I cannot stand running and it took me a long time to realise that I don’t have to run just because everyone seems to swear by it. I love dancing, going for walks and swimming. Find what you enjoy, do more of it!

3. Learn how to unwind

For many of us, relaxation and alcohol use go hand-in-hand and when you stop drinking, the temptation to be productive and make the most of every minute can start to creep in, often leading to burnout. It’s vital to find other ways to chill out and this can be anything from taking a bath to losing yourself in a good television series. In such a busy world, escapism isn’t always a bad thing but much better that it comes from a book than a bottle!

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