The COVID-19 social distancing requirements have seen almost everyone face unexpected changes to their routines. Losing your job, working less hours, working from home and home schooling are all reasons your routine might look very different right now.
As part of this, we all have limited access to the other places that we might visit to make us feel good such as gyms, sporting facilities, shopping centres, the beach, national parks and social groups meaning we have less options for fun and stress relief.
The understandable feelings of loss, anxiety or even boredom can tempt us to turn to alcohol as a way of coping.
The danger is that without those normal routines and accountabilities (eg. driving), many of the normal barriers to excess have been removed.
Despite potentially offering a short-term fix, heavy consumption of alcohol decreases our general wellbeing, increases our risk of injury and disease, interrupts sleep patterns, and impacts on family dynamics. It also lowers our immune system at a time when we need our immune system to be especially strong.
It’s important to maintain light to moderate consumption of alcohol during this period, rather than giving in to the temptation of excess.
What is moderate consumption of Alcohol?
To cut the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, the Australian Guidelines recommend healthy adults should:
- Drink no more than 10 standards drinks a week
- Drink a maximum of 4 standard drinks on any one day
- Have at least 1 or 2 alcohol-free days per week.
Health Direct provides information around what constitutes a standard drink and delves further into the benefits of reducing your alcohol intake.
Making healthy choices
Over the past few posts we have outlined the need to maintain our usual routines, stay connected, stay active and staying positive.
If you’re struggling to manage your stress levels and turning to alcohol or other vices, try making a list of all the things you enjoy and can do at present, and make an effort to do at least one of those things each day.
If you are not in quarantine, a daily walk around the neighbourhood for fresh air allowed, and is important for your mental and physical health. Other suggestions include:
- Practicing mindfulness and gratitude exercises or relaxation techniques (additional ideas for managing your mental health here)
- Home exercise and yoga workouts (see specific ideas here)
- Staying connected to your social groups through social media and online apps (check out our socialisation in isolation ideas here)
- Online book clubs and virtual travel and sightseeing (more examples here)
If you’re struggling, seek support
There are many resources available if you need more help.
- Most GP’s and health professionals are now offering telehealth services. Make an appointment and ask your GP for a referral to an appropriately trained counsellor.
- Hello Sunday Morning - on a mission to change the world’s relationship with alcohol, Hello Sunday Morning offers resources online and an app called Daybreak designed to support people looking to change their relationship with alcohol.
- Alcoholics Anonymous - an informal society of more than 2 million recovering alcoholics throughout the world, AA provides support to those who desire to stop drinking. While traditionally facilitated in face-to-face groups, AA is currently offering online meetings. Find out more by visiting the website or calling 1300 222 222.
- Lifeline: If you are experiencing a personal crisis, call 13 11 44.