Stress is a given at this time of year. While the holidays are a happy time for many, there is also a lot to do between the cooking, the wrapping, the shopping, etc. Some days, the tasks seem endless. Baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, can experience an even greater amount of stress. Many of them are raising grandchildren; in fact, it’s the largest group yet that has taken on this responsibility. They’re also helping their parents in many cases and their children as well. This “sandwich generation” seems to take on everything.
Because there may be more people living under their roofs than is usual, baby boomers may be entertaining a larger group at the holidays than they normally would. Or, they may need to pack everyone up and travel to a relative’s house. No wonder their stress level is high!
As a result, some people may find themselves drinking at a level that is unhealthy. They blame it on the stress or they feel that they deserve to have several drinks because they’re doing everything. Baby boomers may not be aware that their drinking has become a problem. Also, they may not know that as people age, they begin to react to alcohol differently. For example, as people age, they metabolize alcohol differently and can become intoxicated faster. Symptoms of alcoholism can sometimes be misidentified as signs of the aging process.
Signs You May Be Drinking at an Unhealthy Level
Here are some signs that you may be drinking to excess:
- Your tolerance for alcohol is increasing.
- You justify the amount you’re drinking as the only time you can relax or escape the chaos.
- You drink while cooking or cleaning, which you never did before.
- You start watching the clock and planning when you’ll have a drink, saying things like, “I can have a drink at 5:00.”
- If a friend or family member mentions the amount you’re drinking, you become defensive.
- You start isolating yourself, retreating to your bedroom to drink, for example.
- You lose interest in activities that you used to find enjoyable.
- After a night of drinking, you can’t recall events that happened or things you said.
- You feel ill and are not getting better. Prolonged illnesses and exhaustion can be related to alcohol use.
Tips for a Healthy Holiday
Here are several tips for handling stress and staying healthy during the holidays:
Make sure you don’t take on too much. Baby boomers have a tendency to say “yes” when they mean no. Say “no” when you mean “no” and “yes” when you mean “yes”. This will help keep you out of situations where you are doing things you really do not want to do. It is okay to say no.
Give yourself permission to take care of yourself. Make time to do things you enjoy, whether that’s reading, golfing, or taking a walk. Your generation is proud that they’re keeping the family together, but it’s easy to put your own needs aside. Understand that you can be even more efficient if you take care of your needs, too.
Be mindful of drinking for emotional relief. Find other coping skills instead of turning to alcohol. Call a friend, meditate, or ask for help when you’re overwhelmed. Be cognizant of the dangers of drinking to excess: putting your health and well-being at risk.
Sara Counes is Director of Admissions and Recovery Care Services at the Hanley Center. Learn more: http://bit.ly/19b1e0M