Stepping outside for our mental health

DATE PUBLISHED

14th May 2021

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At Drinkaware we very regularly discuss the impact that alcohol has on mental health. This Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16th May) we wanted to take the opportunity to share what we know, and provide some important tips and advice.

So, what does alcohol have to do with our mental health?

Although, for some people, alcohol can have a very temporary positive impact on mood, in the long run it can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety and make stress harder to deal with. 

This is because alcohol is a depressant and regularly drinking above the CMOs low risk guidelines of 14 units a week disrupts the balance of chemicals in our brain that affect mood. This balance is vital for good mental health.

Drinking heavily and regularly is associated with symptoms of depression, although it can be difficult to separate cause and effect. But studies show that depression can follow on from heavy drinking and that reducing or stopping drinking can improve mood. To look after our mental health, reducing how much we drink is an important first step. 

What can we do to support our mental health?

The Mental Health Foundation has research revealing that going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies during the pandemic, with45% of us reporting that being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health[1]. This was why they decided that this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week would be nature.

With that in mind we have brought together some of our resources that aim to help you get outside and experiencing nature, with the aim of supporting your mental health.

  • Going for a walk in your local area is a free and accessible way to reconnect with nature. Walking has obvious health benefits associated with it and having a daily brisk walk could make a significant difference to your health and wellbeing. You can read our tips for heading out for a good stomp here.

  • If you are finding it hard to switch off, orfeel like the days are all blending in to one, we have some recommendations to help you wind down without reaching for a drink. These tips include making an active decision to get up and out of the house.

  • Here are some tips on what to drink, while enjoying nature. The Drinkaware team have collated some alcohol-free drinks ideas to try in the garden or to take with a picnic to your nearest green space.

[1] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/MHAW21_NATURE%20REPORT_ENG_web.pdf