As we head into the 3rd week of #iso I have had numerous conversations ( at a safe distance) with friends who are, well, simply put, hitting the bottle hard. And I completely understand.
If there was ever a recipe for turning to the bottle then all the ingredients are currently in the mix;
Staying at home alone ( isolation)
Staying at home with family and children
Separated from support networks (friends, groups, family)
Lots of spare time
Stress, depression, anxiety and uncertainty ( fears around employment, finances, health, relationships )
Negative news overload
To name a few.
All of the above and more create the perfect environment for us to justify seeking solace and relief, and the easy, accessible and most common go-to is alcohol.
Often in times of stress it's easy to tell ourselves that it's not forever and that whatever we need to use to get through is OK. We can justify drinking more because life is in flux, and we are experiencing it as never before, therefore we can cut ourselves some slack, over-indulge and worry about it at a later date. However as time goes on, the habit has the potential to take hold, and eventually, if we don't take action, can lead to things getting a little out of control.
So if moderation is alluding you at the moment the first thing is not to beat yourself up. You're one amongst many. And whilst this lock-down situation continues it's unlikely you will feel in a position or motivated to make a significant change. But you can make a plan, and you can start to build small habits, each day that will help you toward a more balanced approach once life get's back to normal.
A recent article on Drinkwise suggests;
setting yourself limits and sticking to them
drinking a glass of water or something non-alcoholic between alcoholic drinks
choosing low or zero alcohol drinks.
I also think looking to the future and having a goal can be helpful. Dry July is not far off, or perhaps you look to cut back to only drinking 3 to 4 days a week. Certainly I have had great success in staying off the drink by substituting alcohol with alcohol-free alternatives. Many of my friends now have a few quality options at home so they can have a drink when they feel like it, but without the downsides. An added bonus is they're a lot less calories, a great way to avoid the the post COVID bloat!
Take a look at the sophisticated sips page for some quality non-alcoholic options
Here are my tips for the next few weeks;
Step One: Acknowledge that this situation and habit is not forever.
Step Two: Make a goal for yourself. For example; "I will do dry July" or "In June I'll only drink 3 days a week". Make it something achievable but a goal that you know will inspire and challenge you.
Step Three; Look at your goal and break it down into steps/actions.
1. Write the goal somewhere you'll see it every day
2. List the positive result of doing this and add them to your goal ( being in control, feeling better, empowered etc etc)
3. Make a plan on how to work your way toward it.
Creating a plan is the best way to succeed, but also be flexible and kind to yourself. If you struggle at first that's OK, totally normal, just keep coming back to your list of positives and also focus on how you feel on the mornings after you don't drink. Take time to acknowledge yourself and start to notice positive changes; clearer skin, better sleep, more productive, less reactive. Life will start to get a whole lot clearer.
Instead of waiting for the magic day when we're all free range again, why not start slowly now. Day by day making small, manageable changes that will make a huge difference in the longer term and will leave you feeling more in control and prepared for when we do get back to 'normal'.
Coping with Coronavirus - (ADF.com.au)
COVID-19 Poses unique challenges for alcohol drinkers ( Alcohol.org)
The importance of moderation during COVID-19 ( Drinkwise.org.au)