Many of us are familiar with the notion of grabbing a drink after work to de-stress. However, if you're jumping straight from stress to alcohol, you may be doing more harm than good.
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It's not exactly unknown that self-medicating with alcohol as a means to control stress isn't the best idea. However, even if you're not bordering on alcoholism, the timing of your drink can affect how it affects your stress.
According to research published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, drinking immediately after stressful events can inhibit cortisol levels. Cortisol is necessary to react to stress and inhibiting its production can leave the feelings of tension for longer than they would otherwise exist.
This can then trigger a cycle that actually results in greater cortisol production over the long-term, as evidenced by research published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology. According to this research, alcoholics developed higher concentrations of cortisol over time, as a reaction to the body improperly handling stress. For non-alcoholics, cortisol levels seemed to level out over time if alcohol isn't re-introduced into the system.
In light of this, it may be beneficial to blow off some steam before drinking if you really want to destress.