Instead of focusing on ways to take better care of themselves, many women are now turning to alcohol to self-medicate in order to lessen the stress in their lives, according to the new book Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. What's more is that about 5.3 million women in the United States drink in a way that threatens their health and well-being, finds the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Let's back up for a second: Most experts agree that there are health benefits to drinking wine, especially red wine, in moderation. Even Scandal's faultless Olivia Pope enjoys a couple of glasses of red wine to take the edge off of a long day. However, more and more, women are overdoing it.
What everyone's less focused on is how women absorb alcohol more efficiently than men -- and as a result are more susceptible to certain health risks like alcohol-related hepatitis, heart disease, and breast cancer.
Because of this, it's important for women to realize that a nightly glass of wine isn't a replacement for true self-care, like taking a hot, relaxing bath or even scheduling medical appointments. Problem is, many women think of their own needs as selfish. Indeed, self-care has a PR problem -- instead of seeing it as fundamental, women tend to think of it as an indulgence. I know successful women who are embarrassed to say they are getting their hair done or getting a manicure -- they fear it makes them look superficial or worse, not busy enough. More seriously, women take their kids and ailing parents to medical appointments without hesitation, but feel guilty about scheduling mammograms or check-ups for themselves.
Prioritizing sleep and exercise, eating well, and carving out down time aren't luxuries. It's time for women to embrace what the mental health field has known all along: prioritizing yourself and taking care of your needs is essential for true well-being.
This post was originally written for Self.com.
MORE FROM SELF.COM: