Let's be obvious for a second: Alcoholism = BAD. Developing a dependency on a nightly vino habit will have you well on your way to depression and destructive behavior. But according to a new set of studies, alcohol really does put the "happy" in happy hour—at least in the short-term. (And in other great news, Drinking Tequila Is Good for Bone Health!)
Researchers from the University of Kent in the United Kingdom looked at how the relationship between happiness and drinking changes over time in two studies (the results of which were published in the journal Social Science and Medicine. In the first study, they used traditional survey methods—tracking how often they drank and changes in their mood—to assess the happiness levels and drinking habits of participants over a week-long period. In the second study, they used an innovative iPhone app to track moment-to-moment changes while the participants were enjoying happy hour.
In the first study, they found no relationship between having a couple cocktails and long-term happiness overtime (except where an alcohol dependency problem was present, in which case there was a negative association). But in the second study that tracked moment-to-moment mood changes, the participants showed a "strong and consistent" relationship between their happiness levels and moments they spent sipping. (Psst... This is Why Your Brain Always Says Yes to a Second Drink.)
Unfortunately, those feel-good effects only exist in the moment. So by the time you get back to your apartment after drinks with the girls, you'll already be losing the good vibes. And, again, the studies showed that drinking more over time does not make you more satisfied with life.
Obviously, you should never rely on alcohol to feel all the good feels. But as long as you're drinking responsibly, go ahead and embrace the full meaning of happy hour. (Try these Low-Alcohol Cocktails for a Healthy Buzz!)