EP #90

Alcohol & relaxation

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode, Molly challenges common beliefs associated with alcohol consumption, particularly the idea that it helps in relaxation. The historical origins of happy hour are explored, tracing back to naval traditions and later adapting into American culture, notably during the post-World War II era and the 1960s advertising industry. Molly further highlights societal conditioning regarding alcohol and questions its role in relaxation, emphasizing the need to address the root causes of stress rather than relying on alcohol.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got prizes, I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast. With me your host Molly Watts coming to you from well, it’s a pretty darn nice fall kind of weekend this weekend. Still dry here in Oregon. That’s amazing. And the weather has been just kind of in the in the nice 70s. I think it’s supposed to actually get warm again this week. So I pulled the boots out last week. But I think I’m back to Sandals this week. That’s kind of how we roll here in September. Can’t quite decide whether we’re really in fall or not yet. Still hadn’t had that really cold crisp morning yet. But I’ve got the pumpkin spice candles burning? Yes, I do. And you know, it’s starting to look a little bit more like fall around here. Today, before we get into the show, I do have a prize winner I think I’ve missed a week or so sorry about that. I keep having guests on and when I do sometimes I forget that I need to pull out a prize winner. So if you would like to be entered into a drawing for some alcohol, minimalist swag, all you got to do is leave a review of the podcast on preferably Apple podcast just because that’s where the most people listen. And it has the most impact on searchability is apple. But wherever you listen, I will find you and YouTube that counts as well. If you leave comments on YouTube, you can also leave a review of breaking the bottle legacy how to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. That’s the book that I wrote. You can find it on Amazon or any other ebook retailer that you might might use. And you can leave a review of the book as well to be entered in to our prize drawing. Today’s winner is K fried. I think it’s fried fr ie D. K fried K fried 1970. You left a great review on Apple podcasts. I really appreciate it. And you are our alcohol minimalist swag prize winner. So all you got to do email me Molly at Molly watts.com. And I will send that out to you. K fried 1970. All right on to this week’s show. So we are going back back in to a series I haven’t visited for a while that is the alcohol and series. And I feel like this should have been one of the episodes that I’ve maybe could have done at the very beginning of the alcohol and series, maybe even first because for decades. This is what I truly believed that alcohol provided for me. This episode is all about alcohol and relaxation. I’m also sharing a brief history on how be hour because I think that happy hour is sort of the poster child for drinking to relax. And I started to go down a rabbit hole in terms of understanding the history of it. And I thought, Well, hey, I can share this with the listeners as well. I just finished my first series of coaching sessions with my step one students, and I talked to each student one on one, and they shared some of their thoughts around alcohol with me, the number one thing I heard from them on the prompt that I provided, alcohol helps me feel dot dot dot. And the number one thing I heard was alcohol helps me feel relaxed. It was almost a unanimous response amongst my students. And I can completely relate because that was one of the key beliefs I had about alcohol, which kept me stuck in my daily drinking habit for years. I genuinely believed that I needed alcohol to help me relax. And clearly I am not alone in this belief. Now, for many of us, five o’clock hour, the happy hour is considered really kind of the cornerstone of American work life. No matter where one is or what one does, it’s considered an act of luxury and relaxation to loosen the proverbial tie and head to the bar for happy hour to grab a drink or a cocktail. Typically, happy hours are held between the hours of 4pm and 8pm. And they have been become common ways for not only workers to relax but for bars and restaurants to boost their sales on those weekdays, which would typically be slower weekday shifts. So it’s an opportunity for people to relax and get happy before dinnertime commences. Like I said, in preparing for this episode, I started asking myself some questions. And really one of them was well, which came first? The chicken or the egg? Do we associate alcohol with relaxing because it really works to provide relaxation? Or do we associate alcohol with relaxing because we’ve conditioned ourselves with repeated behavior, which the bars and restaurants of course, were only too happy to market to and support. That led me down a rabbit hole of learning more about the history of happy hour. And ironically, the origin of happy hour has nothing to do with alcohol, or discounted drinks, for that matter. The historical roots of happy hour date all the way back to the early 20th century. And they derived from American naval slang in the 1920s. That happened This happened after the First World War. Happy hours were periods of time on naval ships where sailors could engage in relaxing activities in order to relieve themselves from the drudgery of life at sea. Typically, these activities were morale boosting such as boxing and other athletics. Now, before we delve further into the American origins of happy hour, I will mention that there is an argument for French origins in alcohol a history rod Phillips notes that there was a rise of a kind of happy hour in Paris. In the late 19th century, a wine shortage in Paris had people, most notably the aristocracy, were turning to spirits for their daily intoxicants, and most notably Absinthe. It became popular in the bistro and bars of Paris in the 1860s 1970s, when five o’clock in the afternoon, the time after work, people would drink absent, and it became known as their teh or the green hour. So definitely some association there and potentially kind of the beginnings of happy hour, at least in France. But back to the United States. How did Happy Hour make the leap from the naval ships among seafaring American strongmen to our landlocked office gossip over pitchers of Miller and dollar wings? Well, the answer is prohibition. When the Volstead Act was passed, everyone stopped drinking for 13 years. Well, no, actually just kidding. We actually drank a ton. But it was just secretly often in speakeasies if we wanted to go out to dinner with which is what kind of the fancy men and ladies of the time wanted to do back in the day A they could no longer anticipate the pleasures of drinking and dining. So like kids before prom prohibition era Americans drank together secretly before going out formally in a kind of happy hour fest of rapid intoxication. And so, even though they weren’t designated happy hours, that tradition of drinking collectively and with certain aggressive purpose before dinnertime had certainly coalesced into something habitual. Now, the term happy hour, didn’t come in, and its unofficial discounted drinks, didn’t come into meaning until somewhere in the late 40s, early 1950s. And it was no doubt owing to some post World War, two revelry and the normalization of work home life for newly resettled Americans. As Art Ryan wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 1951. If you think people have lost their price consciousness, you ought to see the stampede at a valley tavern during its happy hour from 5pm to 6pm. And then, less than a decade later, Harold Martin at the Saturday Evening Post wrote about employees at Cape Canaveral is Patrick Air Force Base, they came seeking a place where a man without neglecting his job can still find time to fish and swim, except for those who spend too much during happy hour at the bar. And there are a few of those, he says, again, this is now the terminology Happy Hour is becoming a part of our lexicon in the 1950s. And it was officially kind of adopted then by civilians. When we look then from the 50s, at some point in time, in the 1960s, drinking not only became an accepted postwork activity, but in some industries, most notably in the advertising world. Alcohol consumption also became part of the day to day like at lunch, part of the on the job kind of ideas right for drinking. During the 1950s and 60s, the three Martini lunch was a mainstream practice. For sophisticated suits and tie types. We call them silver bullets explained Jerry della Fermina. He is the chairman and CEO of New York advertising agency della Fermina McNamee, and he explained that in a New York Times article, they were six ounce martinis made of six ounces of gin, a drop of Vermouth, and a thin strip of lemon peel floating on the top, surrounded by a handful of silvery slivers of ice. Straight up was the mohe most people drank in the 1960s ordering on the rocks was seen as a sign of weakness, as was the substitution of vodka instead of gin. Olives displaced too much gin, so they didn’t need those either. And the only people who drank Gibson’s were the heads of publishing companies. This is all from Jerry della Fermina talking about this, this timeframe of the 1960s and the three Martini lunch. Hey, all just a quick break in the show to talk with you for a minute about sunny side. It’s fall and it’s time for tailgaters and holiday parties on the horizon. There is never a better time than right now, to put a mindful plan into place. And Sunnyside is my recommendation for how you can really use a tool that provides a way to track your drinks, measure your progress, and really uses proven behavior change techniques to create lasting habit change. The thing is you can reduce your drinking by 30% in the first 30 days with Sunnyside and you can save over $50 a month, cut out 2500 calories out of your diet. And these are just based on average results. I know that people that I talk to and people that I work with are using sunny side and getting great results. If you’d like to find out if it will work for you go to www.sunnyside.co/minimalist to get started on a free 15 day trial today. While business imbues were practically synonymous during this era, it wouldn’t last Happy Hour advertisements persisted through the early 1970s. However, day drinking in the workplace fell victim to sober Economic Times that demanded clearheaded executives shortly thereafter, in general, drinking both in the workplace and after, actually declined during the 1970s. And that was true all the way until 2004 When alcohol use started increasing again, I don’t know the explanations of why alcohol consumption has increased every year since 2004. I can only tell you that it has. Now an interesting side note about alcohol and work is that during the pandemic, when many people were working remotely, there was actually an increase in people drinking during the day while working. According to a variety of independent surveys, it’s apparently common for people to drink while working from home. One survey found that nine out of 10 people responding admitted drinking alcohol while working from home, while eight in 10 said that they drank at least twice a week during work hours. I find this staggering. Like you wouldn’t go to work and pick up a drink at the at your desk, but you will do it from home. And still another survey found that 45% of respondents admitted to drinking alcohol during work hours, and a similar percentage said they clocked out early to have a drink. Although the statistics vary, the results are clear. The freedoms of working from home have made it possible for workers to do things they wouldn’t do in the office. There’s no one to answer to. And in many cases, no one even knows that it’s happening. So clearly, the association between work and work related stress, and the desire to relieve that stress and relax with alcohol is very tied together. Historically, we have many cultural reinforcements with added components of media and marketing. And it seems as though it’s pretty much 100% accepted, normal and consequential that we drink after work, doesn’t it? I was thinking about this from my own perspective and as a young child, so probably like ages six to nine or so. My parents routinely had a drink. When my dad came home from work. I definitely saw the habit as something that he did to transition from work to home life before dinner. Now of course, that daily habit changed as my mother’s drinking increased, my dad actually stopped drinking that nightly drink. He recognized it that it wasn’t a habit that served him and found other more beneficial ways to relax. But I remember it and saw it as just something that people did. And when I started working in the corporate world, I very quickly transitioned from drinking on the weekends like I had in college, to drinking every night when I came home from work. When we repeat the pattern of a drink after work often enough, like I did pretty much every night for decades, it’s pretty easy to see why giving up that drink feels like such a hard thing to do. For me, the drink felt like I was giving myself permission to relax. It was when I allowed myself to relax. And I 100% believed that alcohol helped me do it. Having permission to relax is such an important idea. Because for me, and I’m sure for many of us, we really don’t know how to relax. And the messages in our culture make productivity sounds like our ultimate goal. We get so caught up in checking things off of our to do lists, that we actually feel guilty when we’re not accomplishing to dues. Whether it’s being off the clock from work, or for you moms out there being off the clock arrives when dinner’s finally done, or the kids are finally in bed, being allowed to relax, feels like a well deserved ending to the day. And for me, and I’m for sure, sure for many of you, that meant drinking alcohol. Now, it might also have meant eating some types of food, television, watching, you know, TV shows, but I definitely believed that alcohol because of its chemical depressant was different. While I might have said that I watched TV to help me unwind or that I liked to snack. I didn’t believe that they had the same chemical reaction in my brain that alcohol had and I didn’t see them as things that I needed to do. And listen it, there is absolutely a relaxing effect from alcohol in the brain when we drink that first drink when our blood alcohol content is going from zero to 0.55% our brains, you know, the alcohol is impacting our neurotransmitters. It is most especially impacting GABA and glutamate. So it’s increasing the action of GABA, slowing the brain down and suppressing the action of glutamate, the neurotransmitter that turns the brain on. And in combination, this feels good in our brains. From a sheer statistical or sheer numerical numbers, from zero to 0.20% to 0.39%. What you will experience is no loss of coordination, a slight euphoria and a loss of shyness, relaxation, but the depressant effects are not apparent. Alright, so sounds pretty good, right? From point 040 2.055%, there’s still a feeling of well being relaxation, lower inhibitions and sensation of warmth, euphoria, some minor impairment of judgment and memory, and a lowering of caution. So it’s understandable, right? It’s true alcohol does those first initial drinks do help you feel more relaxed. And as we’ve discussed many times here on the podcast, if we can keep our blood alcohol content, in this lower level, we can have this therapeutic effect, mostly without negative consequences of higher levels of BAC. Now, again, there is no 100% conclusively safe amount of alcohol other than zero. So never mistake what I say about that. But for most of us that develop a habit of over drinking, we don’t stop at one. And we are unaware of the rebound anxiety that we are actually causing in our brains that we keep perpetuating when we drink daily. The more important thing about the relaxing effect of alcohol, even at those lower limits, is that it doesn’t actually solve the problem of what’s creating our stress in the first place. We are changing the desire to relax, we are not changing the desire to relax in any kind of permanent way. We’re just escaping the feeling of stress in the moment, and masking it with alcohol. Now, there’s nothing wrong with using a drink to relax, it’s not a bad thing. The problem is that most of us just don’t realize how ingrained it is. Most of us don’t realize that the only time that we really allow ourselves a chance to relax, is when we have a drink in our hand. And that’s the real problem. Now, if you’ve developed a habit of drinking, to relax like I did, I want you to do three things for me. First, I want you to write down some of the thoughts you have about drinking after work. Did you have that modeled for you as a kid? Do you think it’s just normal for people to drink after work? Or are you in an industry or a company that supports the wine at five culture? If you’re a mom, do you have thoughts about being off the clock? And how alcohol helps you unwind? What do the TV shows that you watch the restaurants and bars that you visit? What are they telling you about happy hour and your need to relax? creating awareness of your thoughts and looking for the ways that they drive your feeling of desire. That’s an important part of changing your relationship with alcohol. So I want you to get curious and really write these things down. Secondly, I want you to ask yourself, when is it okay for you to relax? And are you looking for ways to add relaxation to your day, if the only time that you’re allowing yourself to relax is when you have a drink in your hand. I want you to start practicing adding in another relaxed moment in your day. Maybe it’s a five minute walk outside a break from your work and really asking your brain to let go of that to do list. Third, I want you to question the beliefs you have about alcohol and whether or not alcohol is helping you relax. Is it true? Does alcohol really help you relax? You know, if you are constantly worried about your drinking, then is that a relaxed way of feeling? No. So it’s not true that alcohol is helping you relax if you’re constantly creating a higher than 0.055% BAC, which is usually more than one drink for a woman and more than two drinks for a man but that is a very general guideline please remember, then you if you are doing more than if you’re drinking more than that regularly, you are likely experiencing the rebound, increased feelings of anxiety and stress as your brain tries get to get back to its natural homeostasis. And even if you’re sticking to low risk limits and keeping that BAC low, does alcohol really solve your problem of stress? No, it does not. To achieve the feeling of relaxed, we have to change our thinking. Alright, that is all I have for you this week, my friends. Until next time, choose peace. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible you have the power to change your relationship with alcohol now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com