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Coronavirus (Covid-19) is causing unprecedented stress, uncertainty and unexpected changes to our lives. As stress levels rise there is a risk that people who are newly sober, and even those who have been alcohol-free for months or years may find themselves wanting or having a drink. This video and blog explains why this is, and what to do about it.
One of the strongest links that is made in our subconscious minds when we drink alcohol is the link between alcohol and stress. The nature of alcohol and the way it affects our biochemistry and neurology is that we believe alcohol helps to relive stress.
Through the learning on my Masterclass and training in The Discover Sober Program, I teach how alcohol floods our system with adrenalin and cortisol, stress and anxiety hormones. Alcohol causes stress, and always adds to any stress that we are feeling.
When we find ourselves faced with the current Coronavirus situation, our stress levels are understandably high. Our subconscious minds try at all times to protect us, and during this difficult time, our subconscious minds may find themselves on high alert desperately trying to find a solution that protects us from the situational stress, and possibly fear, and that makes us feel better.
If you have been enjoying sobriety for days, weeks, or months, this desperate attempt by our subconscious mind can come as a shock, because we are picking up signals that tell us we want to reach for a glass. Not understanding what is going on, we can easily begin to think that we have failed, that our attempts to stop drinking are failing, and that we shouldn’t be thinking what we do. This makes us think of it even more. (Don’t think of a pink elephant. See? It doesn’t work!).
What’s going on?
Our subconscious mind has trawled through the history in our mental and experiential records, trying to find a solution for our discomfort and stress. If we’ve been enjoying sobriety for a while, it might need to dig around a little and wipe the cobwebs off a memory from the past or trundle up an unused pathway in our brain. It has come up a historical record labelled: ‘alcohol is the solution’. The trouble is, that the memory that your subconscious mind is accessing is out of date and predates the learning and growth that you have worked to achieve. You know exactly why and how alcohol causes stress. See my TEDx talk.
So, what do you do?
You treat your thoughts with compassion, and like a well-intentioned child. Give yourself a warm, loving hug, and say, ‘that’s what I used to do, I don’t do that anymore.’ Imagine yourself cutting the thread between the thought and the way that you feel.
What if Coronavirus has made me drink alcohol again, and not just think about drinking?
Well, firstly, it’s not the virus that made you drink, and that may seem obvious, it’s your response to the stress of the situation. (See, What’s going on above?)
We may find ourselves beating ourselves up and using negative language – ‘I’ve failed!’, ‘I’m useless!’, ‘I can’t do this!’ The way to manage this is once again to show ourselves compassion. There can be many steps on the way to learning, and this Corona virus situation is a new one for us all, we’re allowed a stumble as we try to navigate it. Show compassion to the subconscious mind – it did its best, we just listened to the wrong advice. Next time we can recognise that.
Our inner critic can start to have a wild and crazy party in our minds if we let it, so what I teach is to reframe our thoughts, and here’s how.
- Recognise that the inner critic is blaming, shaming and taking away our power.
- Write down what you are thinking – what are those thoughts? Get them out on paper.
- Write how each thought is making you feel, dig deep. How is it making you behave (giving up, having another drink, snappy with loved ones). This may cause you upset, and that is sending a message to your brain that it’s not helpful to think in this way, and so you start to move away from this position.
- Ask yourself what different and positive thoughts you can put in their place (using compassion, love, kindness, and reality). ‘I drank and it wasn’t worth it.’ ‘I didn’t know what my subconscious mind was doing. I do now.’
- Think about all the evidence for the new thoughts and how far you have come.
- Now write down how these new thoughts make you feel.
These new thoughts will move you forwards from the slight deviation from your journey. You have learned, you have adapted, you can now move forwards stronger.
If you need help to take a break or quit drinking click HERE for details of my Discover Sober Program, or email email@example.com. For details of other programs or to check my availability to book a discovery call click https://www.thealcoholcoach.com/about/