Berzin believes that alcohol can be a part of a balanced lifestyle (we would agree), but in terms of mental wellness, it’s important to ask yourself: Are you having alcohol to feel better or are you having alcohol to feel even better? “If alcohol is your method for dealing with life, that might indicate to you that you're using it in a problematic way,” Berzin notes. “So that's always a gut check I invite people to have.”
From there, she also recommends reflecting on how alcohol affects your sleep quality. Poor sleep, as we know, can affect your mental well-being in a major way. And it’s common to drink a glass of wine to wind down at the end of the day—but according to Berzin, this notion is quite contradictory. “That alcohol is making it impossible for your body to reach the lower resting heart rate and lower body temperature you need to achieve at night for deep sleep,” she explains. “As a result, your sleep quality is much lower.”
That said, she recommends drinking no more than three nights per week; and on days you do pour yourself a glass, try to drink earlier in the night if you can. “Ten p.m. is not the time to have that glass of wine. It's 6 p.m., so you have time to metabolize it,” she says.
“There's a lack of realization of how [mental well-being] can really worsen by just low-grade alcohol use,” she adds. If you aren’t sure whether your drinking habits are affecting your emotional state, Berzin also suggests taking two weeks off for a personal experiment. For 14 days, no alcohol, and note how you feel,” she says. “It gives you this objective way of seeing the impact of that change.”