Maybe you rely on a drink to feel relaxed. I sure did. And this was a big reason I overdrank. It was my way to shut off the noise, my brain, and disappear into my glass.
I know I’m not alone in this. Women tell me constantly that they need a drink to relax. Alcohol serves at the gatekeeper to relaxation for many of us.
Join me this week as I explore why we feel like we need alcohol to relax, and how we can release this and get more ease in life. This episode will help you start finding the liberation to relax whenever you choose to.
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 37.
Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.
Well, hello friends. How is your summer going? You know what? I love summer. To me there’s such an aliveness in the air like the birds and the bees are buzzing, teams of people are at the beach, flowers are blooming, flowers are everywhere. And there’s just this activity and experience of life all around. It’s like in full bloom.
I just love summer. And it could be because I grew up on the east coast. And when my husband married me he made an important observation like when you go to the east coast summer is like a verb because we’re used to being cooped up all year long. And then when we get to summer it’s just like clam bakes, and outside, and all these festivities and activities. It’s just so fun. So I love summer.
And here we’re gearing up to leave on a mini vacation. The three of us are flying to visit a part of Florida that we’ve never been to before and we’re super excited to check it out. It’s just a quick four day trip and I know it’s a long way to go from San Diego to Florida for that amount of time but it feels right to us. It gives us a chance to explore and check out a new area and just to change things up a bit.
I know my husband and I just love exploring, that sense of adventure, going somewhere new, going somewhere different, feeling it out, seeing is this somewhere we want to come back to. And we also crave the similarities and the things that we like to do all the time. So we like to crave sameness and we also crave a little bit of adventure, both are exciting. So off we will be going.
And here’s the thing, I want to ask you is that when you go on vacation when do you actually feel like you’re on vacation? Do you know what I mean? It’s almost like I’ve noticed with my own journey through life it’s that audible sigh that where you just relax into the vacation. And this has evolved for me over time.
So when I first got married to Michael we used to love to travel to Mexico a lot. It’s just a nice getaway. It’s a different culture, a different feel. It feels like your worlds away. We love the sand between our toes and we love tacos, and we love guacamole. And we just love the hot temperature. It just feels good.
And so I remember when we first got married and we’d go on these vacations. I would often notice that I wouldn’t feel like I was on vacation until I had my toes in the sand and there was a Corona in my hand. It was at that point in time that both of us kind of looked at each other and we took that big sigh. And then we’d cheers our bottles and say, “Cheers to vacation.” That’s when it felt like you were on vacation.
And then there was that period of time where our daughter came along and we took her to Mexico when she was six months old. And I remember that trip kind of vividly because it was the first time I felt like we packed up our entire house to take a trip.
There are so many things to pack when you have a baby that travels with you, their food, their diapers, extra changes of clothing, bed sheets, all the things. And you’re lugging all these things and then you get to your hotel and I thought I would have that sense of we’re on vacation. But I noticed I’d start looking around the room and things aren’t baby-proofed and oh my gosh, this could be a danger. And where’s the carpeted area of the floor? And all the things of how to keep her safe and where would she sleep? And how would this work and just all of the things.
And when kids come along they kind of set the agenda, no longer is the vacation about what you want. It’s about around their schedule, when they’re hungry, when they sleep, everything revolves around them. So I just remember not really feeling that this is vacation. I remember blowing up her little pool toy floaty with the little umbrella over it.
And she’s all decked out with her sunscreen, and her sunglasses, and her hat, and her bathing suit, and her swim diaper. And just floating around the pool with her still worried that she’s going to flip through this floaty thing, or it’s going to break, or bust. And I’m going to have scuba down dive to the bottom of the pool to pick her up. Most babies are slippery when they’re wet. It looks so relaxing but on the inside I never really felt that relaxed. I was always concerned for her safety and always thinking about is she okay?
And I remember being envious because it seemed like my husband can relax. I’m like, “Where’s my relaxation?” My relaxation back in those days came from when she took a nap. And oftentimes my relaxation meant I get to sleep. Now, fast forward when she’s older and now we’re traveling and I notice when collectively the three of us feel like we’re on vacation and that generally happens after we check-in to the hotel room. She might be jumping on the beds. We might just crash into one of the freshly made beds. And we’re like, “We’re finally here.”
So I don’t know about you but do you do that audible sigh of relief like, “Oh, we’re finally on vacation?” It’s like now I get to relax. And so as I started thinking about this a few years back I was thinking to myself why in the world do I wait so long to feel like I’m on vacation? Why do I have to check-in to a hotel? Why do I have to be actually at the destination to get that, “Oh, we’ve made it, we’ve arrived?” I wanted to see if I can move that feeling up because I didn’t want to wait for it to come once we entered the hotel room or we got to where we were going.
I didn’t want it to train my brain that, hey, this is when I actually get to relax. I wanted to see if I can move that experience up some because why not? And I have to say I have been able to move that up. Now I get that sense of I’m on vacation when my butt hits the seat in the airplane. And I do feel that wash of a sigh come over me. And I notice I’m smiling. I’m kind of delighted. I’m eager that we’re actually starting the vacation. I’m already sensing that the relaxation is setting in. I love being on a plane, it feels good to me. It feels kind of homey. I love to travel.
And it’s funny because we always take early morning flights. And I notice I’m smiling at everybody boarding the plane at 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning. And they’re probably thinking in their heads whose this crazy lady who’s so excited and so awake already? But why wait? I love enjoying my vacation from the moment I get to enjoy my vacation. And to me that’s right when I plop in my seat on the airplane. And if my mind comes up with we forgot something. Too late, don’t worry about it. We’ll get it on the other side. It’s all okay.
And here’s what’s super interesting is that I feel I’m the only one in my family that relaxes this early on. And I notice because my husband’s always shuffling around in his feet at 6’6, it’s kind of hard for him to juggle in his seat. He’s worried about the passenger in front of him putting his seat back because his knees always get crushed. So he’s situating his travel pillow to protect his knees and he’s getting settled. And I’m just sitting there happy as a clam. It’s so fun.
And why I bring this up is because I think we have so much control over our own relaxation. And here’s the thing, our relaxation doesn’t have to match the energy around us. I used to wait until I felt the relaxation come from my husband and from my daughter. And then now it made me feel relaxed. But now I create it on my own regardless of what they’re experiencing and the energy that they’re feeling. So I realized this is a skill.
And I realized this was a skill that I outsourced a lot to alcohol. I felt that if I just had a drink in my hand then I can relax. And that drink was the symbol that told my brain now you can relax. But now I’ve gotten to the point where I can do that for myself without a drink, regardless if I have a drink, which is so beautiful and such a gift that you can give to yourself because when you start doing that, I’ll tell you something. You start realizing how much you told yourself the story that you relaxed when you were drinking. And it necessarily didn’t come all from the alcohol.
It really made me see how powerful our minds are and how we give our power away to things around us. I used to not feel relaxed till my toes were in the sand and a beer was in my hand. That to me was the definition of relaxation in those times. And while I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to think that way. All is I’m saying is I was waiting for outside factors to determine when I could feel relaxation within my body. Nobody ever taught me the skill that I can create that for myself. I didn’t need these external factors to line up perfectly.
I didn’t need for my daughter to be having a good day and my husband to be all calm and then I could feel relaxed. I can create that no matter what they are experiencing and what they are feeling and no matter where we’re at. And this is such a beautiful process to tap into that skill because we can wait for all the factors to align but then, then what does that mean? That means they have to all align in order for us to feel relaxed which means we will be dependent on them for our feelings. And I’d rather be independent of them.
And also if we’re independent of them we can create more of that feeling because we’re not dependent on all the external factors being perfect. And given that there’s so many stresses in the world and there’s so many things that stress us out and come at us every day, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you have this skill to rely on to combat those stresses? To me it really builds our mental capacity. It really builds our mental strength so that we don’t fall victim to mental illness. And here’s the thing, you enjoy life a lot more because who doesn’t want to relax more?
Now, here is the next thing I want us to think about is how do you define relaxation? Because I think we all define it a little differently. And I say that because when I query the women that I work with on, “Hey, why do you drink?” And a lot of them say, “To relax.”
And as I lean into this a little more and they describe what relaxation looks like to them, it actually turns out everybody has a slightly different definition of what it means to relax. Some people it can mean there’s peace, there’s nobody screaming, there’s no kids crying. For some people it means I’m entertained. For other people it means inner peace or calm. For other people it’s like my mind shuts off and I’m not thinking about my to do list. We all define it a little differently. So what’s your flavor?
What’s your definition of relaxation? Because I really think that’s important because a lot of us will say, “I drink to relax.” Now, think of what most of us do to relax. We watch TV. We get a movie or back in the days we used to go to the movies, maybe we take a nap. Some of us focus on deep breathing. Some of us find that through meditation. Some of us find relaxation through yoga. We do all these relaxing things. So why is it that you may be watching TV and still need a drink?
Why isn’t the TV enough? Because if it truly was relaxing to watch a movie or TV why are you looking for the alcohol on top of that? Why isn’t the TV enough? What need isn’t the TV watching giving you? That’s an interesting question. And what I find is then different answers come up. It’s not really to relax. It’s to feel better. It’s to numb out. It’s to tolerate the movie that I’m actually watching because it’s what my spouse picked and not what I picked.
And I’m laughing because notice how we use the common blanketed statement, “I just want to relax.” When underneath it is the real truth, and here’s the thing, you can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is. So if we’re not speaking honestly to ourselves we will never uncover the real reasons why we drink. And if we keep telling ourself it’s to relax but yet it’s to tolerate something frustrating in our life then we’re never going to get to the root of the problem to be able to change it.
So it’s interesting that we say it’s to relax but is it really the pursuit of something else? Is it really the pursuit of feeling something different like feeling better, or getting that rush, or getting the buzz? And if so, then maybe that’s what we should be telling ourselves, the truth. And another reason I advocate for telling the truth is here’s a big thing. Oftentimes we are looking to alcohol to give us something that it cannot.
So for example we might be feeling lonely and what we truly want is a partnership and companionship with another human. But what do we do? We drink and we say, “Because I’m lonely that’s why I’m drinking.” But notice that the alcohol can never give you the companion and the companionship that you were seeking. What alcohol is giving you is the numbing so you don’t feel the loneliness, so you don’t actually go and try to solve for the loneliness. You just numb from it and then the next day complain that the problem is still there.
And this is just one example I see over, and over, and over again with different things that we are using alcohol to solve for but it can’t solve for it. We keep chasing it with alcohol but more alcohol won’t be the solution. But since it feels good along the way we just ignore that it’s actually not the true solution. And then we wonder why we’re disgusted and disappointed with ourselves the next day because on some point, on some level we think we’re doing ourselves some good.
The brain’s happy, this must be a good thing but then we over-drink and then what happens, the self-loathing, the low self-esteem, not feeling like you’re in control. Having copious amounts of alcohol gives us a false sense of happiness. And why do I call it a false sense of happiness? Because when you’re doing it you may feel happy but the next day do you feel happy? If you have true happiness you’re happy when it’s happening and you’re happy when you look back at it. It’s happiness that keeps on giving.
False happiness is just disguised as happiness but it’s really not making you happy. So I really want you to answer this question for yourself. Is it really relaxation that you’re after? Are you really having that drink because you just want to relax? Or is there some other reason that you’re not being honest with yourself about? And if it truly is relaxation, why don’t other modalities work? What are they missing that you get from alcohol?
And here’s another question, what are you actually drinking alcohol for and can drinking alcohol provide that to you? Yes, this is the path to your own enlightenment my friends. You’ve got to define it. You’ve got to explore it. You’ve got to uncover your own answers because this is the path that I walk the women through that I work with. And it works wonderfully well.
This is what helps you be powerful so that you don’t over-drink because so many of us say, “I don’t know why I keep doing this. I don’t know why I’m in this cycle of overdrinking all the time. I know it’s not good for me. I know it’s not healthy but I just don’t know how to make it stop. And I have been there and it’s made me feel powerless. And it made me feel like I couldn’t get control which were only lies.
And when I uncovered this for myself now I understood how to become a woman who can take it or leave it, now I can have one and be satisfied and be done, or maybe I choose two. Because now my brain truly understands how alcohol serves me and doesn’t serve me. I know the truth about it and I experience it in my body. And this is so powerful when you can learn to do this for you.
I still may choose alcohol to relax on some days but I also know how to do that without alcohol. And that gives me back my power. That makes me not dependent on alcohol. That allows me the ability to drink on my terms. And that is the woman I desire to be.
So if you’re struggling with overdrinking and you want to learn how to do this journey where you can drink on your own terms I’d love to help you. This is the work we do inside my Drink Less Lifestyle program. It’s my three month program where we completely transform your relationship with alcohol and with yourself so that you can love your life and yourself again.
Alright my friends, that’s all I have for this week. See you next week.
Thanks for listening to Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with drinking now check out the free guide, How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. See you next week.