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For millions around the world, lockdown has gone hand in hand with ‘lockdown drinking’, and as restrictions are beginning to loosen, you may be finding yourself wanting to do something about that.
It may seem obvious why everyone has been drinking more during the coronavirus pandemic, but let’s take a closer look and work through what we can do about it now.
Alcohol consumption has shot up in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. People are drinking in excess of 30% more than usual, and for some people it has got out of hand.
Why is that?
1. We copy other people
As human beings we are great mimickers and the reason for that is because it is necessary for our survival. As young babies we learned to mimic the behaviour of the adults who are looking after us.
This behaviour continues throughout our lives and we mimic the behaviour of people we admire and respect including our friends, family and people in the media. During the coronavirus lockdown we have seen celebrities in their homes presenting shows, and often with a glass of their favourite tipple in their hand. On television shows where there would never previously have been alcohol on display, yet celebrities are openly flashing and boasting about the glass in their hand. This is sending messages out to everybody that it is not only acceptable, but expected, to drink a lot during a crisis.
Many of us have had online get-togethers with friends and whether it’s Zoom bingo or a quiz, invariably it involves a call to charge your glass before turning up. For the first time ever, people have been waking up with hangovers after a virtual get-together. In a society where we already drink at home the openness of this being acceptable has increased consumption.
2. We limit consumption based on our restrictions
Alcohol is a highly addictive substance and if left unchecked, the path of consuming alcohol means that the effects diminish the more that we drink, and so we are driven to drink more in an attempt to get the perceived high.
One of the main reasons that addiction is held back is because people’s lifestyle restrictions mean that it is socially unacceptable to drink in certain situations. For example, if people go out to work Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 then they will have unwritten restrictions in place that mean they will naturally not drink during these times. That is why we get back from work and find ourselves running to the fridge come wine o’clock. We may be doing a school run to pick up children and so won’t drink before-hand. In normal life there are all kinds of reasons why it is not ‘possible’ to drink throughout the day.
However, during lockdown these restrictions and boundaries haven’t existed, and many people have sat working from home with a glass of alcohol next to them on the desk. There is a strong correlation between increased alcohol consumption and retirement because when people retire and stop working, the natural boundary of not being able to drink during the working week is removed. Effectively, the confines of lockdown have done the same.
3. We drink when we are stressed
The third reason that people have been drinking to excess during the pandemic is because we have been, and still are, living in very uncertain times. Everything around us has changed and we have been living in very unusual and strange circumstances. Uncertainty causes anxiety and stress and one of the common misconceptions around alcohol is that it helps alleviate symptoms of stress. In fact, the opposite is true and alcohol consumption increases feelings of stress and anxiety, but unfortunately the vast majority of drinkers don’t understand this.
As restrictions are beginning to be lifted and we are coming out of lockdown in many countries, what can we now do about our drinking to get ourselves back on track?
The first thing to understand is that as we approach a new normal there will be a change in the way that we are currently living, and this change means that just as you may have inadvertently fallen into a cycle of drinking more alcohol a few months ago, you can now consciously make a decision to implement new strategies and boundaries.
Now is the time to put in place new patterns of behaviour for this next new situation. It is a great opportunity to can step back and think about what it is you want for your new ‘normal’, and how you want to live your life.
Alcohol is highly addictive and in the space of just a few months, a growing addiction is a lot harder to stop than it was for it to develop in the first place.
One of the ways that we can begin to move forward is to set ourselves very firm and non-negotiable boundaries around when and what we drink, and to be aware of the problem.
We can begin by going back to our pre-pandemic drinking patterns if they were less than they are currently. We can review and establish new boundaries for ourselves from a state of being aware.
Consider whether you have drunk more because others around you have led you to follow suit and ask yourself whether the previous restrictions of live gave you boundaries that the lockdown took away. Make a firm commitment to yourself, and move forwards with confidence.
And on the other side of the alcohol struggle is a place of vibrant mornings, inner peace and confidence. So remember these things too. Work out your reasons WHY, and hold them in your heart and mind!
If you need help to take a break or to quit drinking alcohol and thrive sober, click HERE for details of my Discover Sober Program.