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Are We Drinking Too Much During The Pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it overwhelming uncertainty. For many of us, the past few months have consisted of having to work from home, historic unemployment rates, losing a loved one, spending more time indoors with irritable roommates, children, or a partner, or constantly worrying about the future and elderly relatives.
In a bid to cope with the “new normal,” and in the face of limited entertainment options, it seems that more people are turning to the bottle. According to a study recently conducted by researchers from the University of South Florida, women have increased their consumption more than men. “Surviving quarantine one sip at a time” has become a popular mantra during these times.
According to a report by consumer analysts Kantar, alcohol sales in the UK were up by 22% in March compared to the same period in 2019. In addition, the appeal of wine delivery has increased, with online retailer Naked Wines reporting a surge in online orders.
How Much Alcohol is “Too Much”?
Most of us may have a difficult time determining if we are actually over-indulging. Based on the current UK guidelines, both men and women should limit their drinking to 14 units a week, spread over three days or more. This translates to 6 pints of average-strength beer (4% ABV), seven 175ml glasses of wine (12% ABV), or 14 single measures of spirits (ABV 37.5%).
During these unprecedented times, it may be harder to say no to a cold beer or a glass of wine to take the edge off. If you scroll through social media, you are bound to come across a friend or two posting about their Quarantine or Zoom happy hour. This makes it easier for us to downplay and justify our drinking. However, the relief that alcohol induces – physiological and psychological – is temporary.
Occasionally, we may consume a unit or two over the recommended limit. Let’s not torment ourselves when this happens. However, if it happens every other day, it may be time to pause and re-evaluate our drinking habits.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Drinking Too Much During The Pandemic?
Heavy consumption of alcohol compromises your immune system and affects the way your body fights against infectious diseases. In addition, large quantities of alcohol may impair your judgment and decisions. When you are sober, you are capable of making better decisions that are beneficial to you and others around you.
Tips to Help You Cut Back on Drinking
If you are looking to ease up on your quarantine drinking, here are a few tips on how you can cut out unhealthy habits.
- Identify possible underlying issues. Matters such as boredom, grief, loneliness, restlessness, and anxiety may lead you to drink more. Once you identify such triggers, you are in a better position to find alternative coping mechanisms.
- Create a new routine. You can use your extra time to form new, beneficial habits. If you get the urge to drink for no reason, you can distract yourself by reading, meditating, journaling, going on a walk, or exercising.
- Opt for a smaller glass. Sometimes it’s as easy as pouring your drink in a smaller glass. In the long run, it adds up and makes a significant difference.
- When buying alcohol, opt for a drink with less alcohol in it. You can reduce the amount of alcohol you are drinking by comparing the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of different beverages. For instance, you can choose a wine with 12% ABV instead of 16%.
- Set some time aside to take care of yourself. Self-care looks different for each of us. Whether it’s proper sleep, reading a good book, journaling, watching a movie, or even cooking yourself a nutritious meal, ensure that you routinely do something for you.
- Reach out to loved ones. Staying connected to family and friends is essential to alleviate loneliness. Regular phone calls with loved ones will lift your spirits and can help curb the urge to drink.
- Designate some alcohol-free days. An effective way to reduce your alcohol intake would be to set aside two or more days during which you don’t drink.
- Pursue a goal you have always had. Most of us have a goal that we have been putting off for too long. These ambitions may include learning how to cook, learning how to play an instrument, remodeling your house, perhaps even starting a YouTube channel. The pandemic might be your perfect opportunity to achieve some of your goals.
The past few months have been undeniably difficult for most of us, and unfortunately, the pandemic is still amongst us. However, we need to realize that alcohol is only a band-aid that isn’t going to solve our problems. At the end of the day, it is on us to find better coping mechanisms that do not involve reaching for the bottle.