Was my lockdown drinking normal?

 

 “My drinking increased during the pandemic, and I am struggling to get it back under control”

In the two years since Covid turned our world upside down, I have coached so many people whose drinking increased during the pandemic and who are now struggling to reverse that. If this is you, you may be feeling very isolated and ashamed. You’ll be wondering how on earth this happened, and what you can do about it.  I have some answers…so read on.

 

A nation of secret drinkers

Problem drinking or alcoholism has always been stigmatised, a source of guilt and shame. During lock-down our drinking was, of necessity, behind closed doors and a lot of people found that they were drinking far more at home than they used to when they went out. We got much more into the habit of drinking alone, and of our hangovers being ‘hidden’ – Zoom is much more forgiving than when we see someone face-to-face, and on the really bad days, we could always claim that we were keeping our camera off because the internet had been playing up.

 

You are NOT alone...

 According to a study published in the BMJ, here in the UK, the average number of units of alcohol consumed went up by a staggering 11.25% during the first lockdown. Globally, there was a slight decrease overall, but that masks a significant increase by some people offset by a significant decrease by others. In the UK there were people cutting back or even giving up alcohol altogether, so some of us were drinking a huge amount more than before!

 

So what led so many of us to start drinking more during the pandemic?

 If you want a one-word answer, it is STRESS. I referred earlier to Covid having turned our lives upside down, and that is no exaggeration - we were all thoroughly discombobulated by it (what a great descriptive word that is, ‘discombobulated’!)

 

Struggling with stress:

  • We were stressed by the fear, (or even worse, the reality,) of loved ones dying alone in hospital or being completely cut-off from us in a care home.
  • We were stressed by our routines being thrown up in the air, not being able to see friends, play sport, go the gym or the cinema, or even go for a walk more than a mile from our house.
  • We couldn’t even hug anyone outside of our own household. For people living alone, that lack of physical contact was particularly tough.
  • People living with partners they weren’t sure they wanted to be with any more were certainly stressed by that. Some were living with the reality of domestic violence from which they had no escape.
  • Overnight, parents had to become teachers alongside doing their normal jobs. Children and teenagers thrive on social contact, and that was taken away from them, with resulting moodiness and general unhappiness. 
  • And of course there was the financial stress…how will we manage if I lose my job or the organisation goes bust? 

Many of us felt overwhelmed by a raft of emotions – fear, sadness, anger, loneliness, grief, boredom, discouragement and hopelessness to name but a few. 

 

Alcohol is never a long-term solution

Unfortunately, society tells us that when the going gets tough, alcohol is the answer, and we tend to accept this unquestioningly. This belief is simply all around us, impossible to ignore – you’ll have seen the memes like ‘when life serves you lemons, pour a gin and tonic’. But these beliefs do not serve us, indeed they are what keep us stuck in patterns of drinking too much.

 

The reality is that alcohol can help relieve stress, but that relief is very temporary, and only lasts for around half an hour. After that, booze actually makes stress worse. Yes, you read that right – alcohol makes stress worse. Drinking leads to the release of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones and can set up a downward spiral of depression. Strangely, that fact is not advertised!

 

You deserve better than this daily struggle

As a certified This Naked Mind coach, I work with individuals and small groups to help them identify the beliefs that are keeping them stuck, and then help them to gain a scientific understanding of what alcohol really does to our bodies and our brains to reframe those beliefs, so that they no longer want to drink. If you have started to worry about the impact that alcohol is having on your life post-pandemic, get in touch to book a free discovery call and start your journey towards true freedom.

 

 

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