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Mental Health Beer
How beer brings me peace
Throughout my life there have been what feels like a million waves of ebbing and flowing between positivity, motivation, self-doubt, and anxious cliffs. Even as I write this, I’m battling my way out of a deep ravine of mental struggles. I’ve been doing a lot of personal work on introspection and mindfulness. A common theme that I’ve noticed is focusing on things that I enjoy and that are in my control. Also, finding ways to take things that may not seem like they’re in my control and re-working my brain to figure out that they are. All of this to say that I finally realized the power that beer has on blocking the noise of the world out from around me.
I think it’s super important to state a few things before we go on. For starters, I am in no way someone to listen to when I comes to advice nor am qualified to do literally anything. Secondly, I also think it’s not wise to use alcohol as a method of coping with any mental illness or struggles. Remember – not qualified to say anything about anything. These are just my anecdotes on how I get through life.
Let me give a little more background and personal history on how most people from Southwest Virginia drink beer. I come from a smaller town. Not quite the cliché everyone knows everyone, but most people know most people. If that makes any sense. These small towns drink beer exactly how you think they would. Suitcases of cheap American light beer. Sometimes I’m amazed at how much Bud Light or Natty Light* is consumed.
*If you call it Natural Light, you’re not the demographic for Natty Light and you can’t be trusted. Just kidding.
It really wasn’t until very recently that most people in these small towns ever heard the term “craft beer.” They thought it was some highfalutin trash that city s
lickers drank. Fully discredited as anything safe for human consumption. Think of nice coffee versus a cheap, burned diner coffee. Beer was primarily for utility. It was never thought of as a commodity – something to be enjoyed. Luckily for the industry the paradigm is starting to shift, and folks are starting to realize that it’s ok to enjoy something for taste.
Enter me. I started drinking beer in my “party” phase. PBR flowed by the gallons. It was cheap and available. I really never knew what it meant to pick apart the flavor and nuance of beer. Then there was a shift. I actually quit drinking alcohol entirely for two years. It was purely a sabbatical. To rebalance how I viewed and appreciated alcohol. When I dipped my little piggies back into it, I started with wine. I learned everything I could about wine. Grape varietals, vineyards, flavor notes…all of it. This open-
mindedness led to something very powerful. I actually started to develop a palate for wine. I could actually pick up individual flavors.
Fast forward to today. Not only do I love beer, but I love tasting all the individual flavors of the ingredients. I can pick apart a beer like a (local) pro. This has had a profound impact on my personal growth. It taught me to be more open to new experiences and things I used to not like.
So, what does all of this mean for how beer has helped me get through tough times? It means that I don’t view alcohol as a coping method by getting drunk and blocking out the pain and bad times. I like to seek out a new brewery or taproom and find a few beers that I’ve never had before. I sit with Jenna and just enjoy the beer. I pick apart the flavors and allow myself to get lost in that.
It's this deep focus and concentration that drowns out the stressors, pain, and difficulties. I feel like I’m in this safe little bubble. Lately this experience has been expanded to allowing me to open up and talk about what I’m feeling and experiencing. It’s really cathartic for me to talk through my problems, so long as in a constructive way. Having that beer feels like a neutral space that doesn’t have any influence one way or the other on my emotions. I’m able to be more objective and real with my career, goals, passions, and future.
This may not work for you, and honestly it may not work for me forever. But it does work for me currently and I’m extremely grateful for it. I’m starting to learn that life is always about progression. Long-term goals should always be evolving, short-term goals should be (I hate to sound like a business coach) measurable and achievable. Beer helps facilitate and guide me in the right direction. This blog is serves to be a beacon of my own personal success. I appreciate each and every one of you.
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