Up until a few years ago, I enjoyed a glass or two of wine most days. It wasn’t a problem per se, but then I looked at why I was drinking it.
For one thing, I genuinely enjoy wine and belong to wine clubs I like. And it’s fun drinking good wine with good friends. I also thought that it helped me relax and wind down after a hard day.
Some of those reasons I like, which is why I still drink wine. But the last one didn’t sit right with me.
If I was honest, the need to relax or forget my day came from feeling overwhelmed with too much to do, or rehashing all of the things that went wrong that day which made me feel like I deserved a treat. I just wanted to escape for a while and not think about it all.
And I wasn’t getting sloshed or missing work. Plus, lots of people did it. Memes on social media indicated I wasn’t alone. What was the big deal? Well, the big deal was that I was using wine as a way to
…make myself feel better after a bad day, and
…treat myself with something special.
It was a pattern I’d trained myself into so I knew I could train myself out of it.
Here are three ways I learned to manage overwhelm without a glass of wine (or ice cream, or insert your “self-management style” here):
- I retrained my brain: feeling overwhelmed comes from thoughts like “I have too much to do” or “I don’t know how I can possibly get everything done.” I gradually learned to tell myself that I have plenty of time and energy to do the things I want to do. Now when that feeling comes up, I step back and notice it’s coming from a thought. I see if there’s any validity to it and if I need to delegate or take some action to lessen the load. Then I remind myself I’ve got it handled.
- I took time to recognize wins: at the end of the day our minds easily grab onto the bad parts, like the flat tire or oversleeping our alarm. I began consciously recognizing the positives, particularly those that were the result of my own efforts which allows me to feel successful. These don’t need to be big wins – notice that most of the “bad” stuff in our day is not monumental, either. Simple acknowledgement of the good helps to neutralize our tendency to go negative.
- I found real pleasure: My coach taught me that many of the things we enjoy are false pleasures. For me, enjoying Tolo Cabernet on Saturday night with friends is a genuine pleasure. But two glasses of wine on Tuesday night is not. Once I thought differently about my day and started exploring what treating myself really looked like, I found true enjoyment. And I realized that I deserve so much more than vegging out with wine to relax after a long day.
The best part is feeling like I have the tools to relax and manage my mind around overwhelm without “needing” a glass of wine.
The same is possible with anything else we misuse to distract ourselves from feeling bad or uncomfortable (like food, social media, Netflix). And once you learn to do it with one thing, you can do it with anything to create a healthy lifestyle that you absolutely love!