Could the pub be good for our mental wellbeing?
Let’s be honest; we’ve missed pubs. As a nation, we love little more than getting together with friends in our local beer garden on a hot summer day. Lockdown in the garden just isn’t the same.
The good news is, pubs are reopening. From July 4th, pubs, bars and restaurants will be opening their doors and welcoming us back in. There will be restrictions in place, and we’ll have to observe social distancing at all times. But, we’ll be able to sit in those beer gardens with our mates once more.
The even better news is, research suggests that a trip to the pub could actually be good for us. Studies by Oxford University show that the occasional trip to the pub with your friends can be a powerful healing tool. Restoring your mental health, reducing anxiety and stress and improving your general wellbeing.
Many of us have felt some kind of loneliness over the last 14 weeks. If you live alone, you may not have seen people face to face for weeks, or even months at a time. Even if you live with your family, suddenly the world got much smaller. This loneliness has perhaps been one of the hardest parts of lockdown.
So, imagine what life is like for people battling constant loneliness. The people that live alone and work from home that may have lost touch with friends and family. Or the retirees, that have slowly fallen out of more social habits.
The pub is a great way to fight loneliness. For some, it’s a chance to meet up with friends and people that they may not have time to see day to day. For others, it’s a chance to get out of the house alone for a while. But, even for these lone visitors, the pub is social.
Bar staff chat, other guests say hello, and after a few drinks, we’re happy to join in conversations with people that we’ve barely known for 10 minutes. Loneliness is a serious problem that affects the mental health of millions of people. Pubs are a very natural and easy way to reduce it.
A safe environment
Drinking too much can be dangerous, wherever you do it, and we’ve all seen big nights out end terribly. But, more often than not, pubs, and certainly friendly, community establishments, offer us a safe space to meet people, to chat and to share ideas.
For a start, we’re more likely to drink to excess at home on our own. We drink more, without the distraction of chatter, and it’s harder to know when to stop when there’s no one else to set the pace, or no need to get your wallet out.
In the pub, it’s less about drinking and more about the convivial environment and socialisation. We often have some of our most diverse and interesting conversations in pubs, when new people come into our groups to share their options. Pubs help us to communicate, but also to open our minds to new ideas, which is fantastic for mental health.
Pubs are community spaces (or at least, the best ones are). We experience a diversity of conversation, but also activity, as we listen to music, play games, eat new things and sample new drinks. Diversity is a big part of wellness, and a fantastic way to avoid boredom. Pubs are community spaces (or at least, the best ones are). We experience a diversity of conversation, but also activity, as we listen to music, play games, eat new things and sample new drinks. Diversity is a big part of wellness, and a fantastic way to avoid boredom.
Our relationships help us to fight anxiety and improve our mental health every day, and trips to the pub can help you to maintain friendships and improve your relationships.
Regularly meeting your friendship group in the pub, even infrequently, can help you to keep friendships alive when they would otherwise have drifted. Alcoholic consumption can also release endorphins, boosting conversation and making it easier for you to open up about your worries and anxieties.
Obviously, this doesn’t give us all the free rein to go to the pub every night and drink as much as we want to. Too much alcohol can hurt your liver, affect muscle growth, lead to weight gain, and it’s important to remember that addiction is a very serious mental health issue on its own. And, while pubs are reopening, we must all do our bit to enjoy them responsibly, respecting social distancing guidelines and any restrictions that our favourite watering holes have put in place.
But, the odd night in the pub with your mates, can be great for your mental health, reducing stress levels and anxiety, boosting your mood and easing any loneliness that you may have experienced during lockdown.