Spiked egg nog, mulled wine, and New Years champagne are nearly as ingrained in our holiday psyches as Christmas trees, menorahs, and Santa Claus.
But why? Why do so many of us overindulge in booze year after year, knowing that by January, we’ll be feeling puffy, bloated, and toxic?
I’m not pointing fingers at other people without owning my own tendency to do the same. It’s so easy to keep pouring the wine at those holiday parties, add an extra shot to that egg nog, and get sloshed at the big New Years bash. (Yes, most doctors I know drink, often to excess. Just because we wear white coats doesn’t mean we’re health nuts or saints.)
By the first week of January, I usually feel so gross from the combination of too much food, too much sugar, and too much alcohol that I’m always super motivated to do one of my quarterly green juice detox cleanses.
But why do we put our bodies through this toxic torture? Why are we so tempted to numb out during the holidays? What are our real motivations for the overindulgence?
The REAL Reason We Drink Too Much
Do we really overindulge because we’re thirsty (um. . . dehydration, anyone?) Is it because drinking is really so awesomely festive? (Is that hangover really fun the morning after?) Is it really because we love the taste of bubbly so much? Is it because we’re so dedicated to making sure we taste that $200 bottle of cabernet someone just opened as an extra special treat? Is it really because drinking helps us bust a better move on the dance floor?
Or is there a deeper reason? Does hanging with the obsessive-compulsive bossman make you nervous? Are you really admitting that the only way you can tolerate hypercritical Uncle Joe is to pour yourself a stiff one? Are you freaked out by a roomful of people at a party that you hardly know? Are you actually self-medicating your social anxiety, rather than imbibing alcohol to feel good?
Or is it something else? Do the holidays bring up painful old stories for you? Do you miss your mom so much you can barely suppress the tears? Does the Christmas tree remind you of how your father abandoned you when you were three? Do all your insecure teenage moments flood over you when the holiday parties rev up? Are you hoping a margarita will numb the sadness, erase the hurt, and help you gloss over the loss?
Or is drinking what you do when you’re just plain bored? Can you hardly stand sitting around your parent’s home while the TV drones on and nobody talks? Do the holidays make you so stir crazy that you have to drink in order to while away the hours? Is drinking a bonding exercise between you and your siblings? Or simply a ritual you never bother questioning?
Do you REALLY want to overindulge this holiday season?