Coronavirus and Alcohol
In my local supermarket it is not only the loo rolls that are suffering a hit, but the alcohol isle is looking pretty scarce too, why is that I wonder?
I know exactly why actually, it is because whenever something bad, or uncertain or worrying or stressful happens, our immediate reaction is to reach for a drink.
Over this past week, some of the email messages I have received or news interviews I have seen have gone something like this.
“Everyone will go crazy now that the pubs are shut”
“I thought this week I’d go against the grain and focus on a different C word; Chabli, Chianti and Chardonnay spring to mind”
“Live with wine tonight”
“If the schools close, I’m gonna need Prosecco”
This morning there were people talking about how to look after their mums this Mothers Day by preparing ‘Mum’s Self Isolation Boxes’ which included, of course – wine. “I have to keep my mum topped up with her favourite red wine,” said one man – this was on BBC Breakfast
I am extremely worried about this.
A friend of mine said that she has turned to wine more than usual this week already because of all the stress, worry and anxiety that this current situation has brought up and she is aware that it is affecting her.
I am so grateful that I quit drinking in 2018 because, I would have been among the many who think that not leaving the house is an excuse to drink and not just drink, but drink more than usual.
There are 2 main reasons why Coronavirus and alcohol are a very bad combination and you shouldn’t drink during self isolation.
The first reason is obviously that alcohol is very bad for your health, among all the terrible things is does to our body, it plays havoc with our immune system and if there was ever a time to have a strong, healthy immune system surely that time is now.
The second reason, and this is the one I am most worried about, is that while many people think that working from home or isolating is the perfect excuse to sit and drink, the long term effects of this behaviour can have serious consequences on our mental well being.
I was a house drinker and for me drinking at home was safe, there was no judgement from anybody (except my kids) and if I drank too much, which I often did, then I could just crawl into bed – no harm done.
However, drinking is linked to increased anxiety and depression, it makes us less able to cope well with stress even though we might think that alcohol helps us to numb out from, or escape those difficult feelings of fear and worry, all we are really doing is making them worse.
Sure, they will get blocked out for a while but because our brain releases stimulants to make up for the depressive properties in alcohol, when the alcohol wears off, those feelings we numbed out earlier come back again, but this time stronger and on a deeper level which results in increased anxiety.
Then comes another problem. Our brain likes quick fixes, especially when it comes to making us feel better and the more we turn to alcohol to self medicate or self soothe those unpleasant feelings away, the more the brain will recognise this as a good way to feel better and will begin to rely on us drinking in order to remove those feelings.
So when we wake up feeling very anxious and worried and stressed, despite blocking the feelings out with a drink or three the night before, the only thing we know of that will take away those feelings, is of course, another drink.
This is why we get cravings in times of stress or worry because we have learned that the best way to drown out the emotion is the drink, so whenever we begin to feel the feels, guess what happens – we get a craving.
…social distancing means no social pressure to drink…
You might be thinking that you will just drink with dinner or have a couple of beers to enjoy your social time by yourself or with whoever you are stuck at home with. Same applies to happy feelings. That’s why so many of us associate alcohol with letting loose and having fun.
While it might be extremely tempting to drink at the moment despite the points above, the good news is, no, the fabulous news is that actually, there has never been a better time to quit drinking and say goodbye to Coronavirus and alcohol.
Think about it. The pubs are closed so there is no temptation there and nobody can hassle you to go out. Your local shop or supermarket might not have your favourite tipple in stock or run out of booze altogether (here’s hoping!) Plus, social distancing means no social pressure to drink which is one of the main reasons people give up their bid to stop drinking – other people. There are no other people!
Also, there are loads of things you can do at home to help you on your journey, now you are free from judgement and social pressure.
Yes, you are stuck at home but you have lost of extra time to dedicate to learning about alcohol and sobriety. Just think of all the books you can read or inspiring podcasts to listen to. You can learn some new healthy, loving ways to cope with your stress and worry such as yoga or meditation.
Do that online course you’ve always wanted to do, pick up your guitar again or take up knitting (sober knitting is a thing!)
You can do craving busting workouts from the comfort of your living room without the worry that you will be judged or laughed at because, well – no people!
I am pretty sure that you won’t get half as triggered by other people as you usually would if this was a normal situation because, well – no people!
You can really take the time to connect with yourself again free from pressure, judgement guilt or shame. This is your time to look after yourself in the most loving way possible.
Find an online support group or join the Blissfully Sober Facebook group which is full of people doing exactly the same thing as you. There is help available for you when you need it.
Above all, even though you might find it tricky at first, think of this as an opportunity and try to find the positives in the situation. Just imagine how you will feel when it all passes and you have a wonderful alcohol free self to show for it!
If you find that you are struggling with this then do reach out and ask for help. Check out how you can work with me to quit drinking and be strong and healthy.