How Sober is Your Quarantine?

Cheers!

Here in the UK, the full lockdown started on 23 March 2020. That’s currently about one month ago and I think many of us have found it to be more of a roller-coaster of emotions than what we were expecting. Who knew that being forced to stay home would have such an effect on our state of mind?

Judging by my social media feed, and my own life experience, when us humans encounter unpleasant emotions, we tend to try to find a way to escape those emotions. Cue alcohol and lots of it!

The weather has also been exceptionally pleasant and that I find always tends to get the beer flowing, especially if we’re having BBQs and the like.

Anyone who’s followed this site for any length of time may have heard me speak before of how I let my own alcohol use get out of hand – not in that I was an alcoholic in my view but I was a problem drinker (if there’s even a difference!). I also allowed myself to end up in dangerous situations, with the last serious situation leading to me waking up in a local hospital with concussion, having knocked myself out, falling over whilst inebriated – classy.

As such, I am the last person to judge anyone on their alcohol consumption and that is absolutely not the intention of this post. Really, just to raise that awareness that sometimes we can drink more than we realise we are drinking or that we justify the amount we are drinking (as I used to do!) by believing, rightly or wrongly, that the amounts we are putting away are within social norms so it’s alright.

It’s been nearly 18 months since my concussion episode and although I still occasionally drink, I’ve found, thankfully, that I simply can’t drink like I used to. Otherwise, I know that I would have spent the last month in an alcohol-induced haze with all the awful effects such over-indulgence can have on our physical bodies and looks but especially our psychological state of mind.

A friend of mine messaged me last week at around 2:30 in the afternoon saying that she’d just woken up but since it was the afternoon she was going to pour herself a drink. Again, no judgement – if she enjoyed that drink then good for her. There was definitely concern though that this was her first thought upon waking. I remember saying to her that, at the time, I hadn’t had a drink in 2 weeks and was really pleased with my progress, to which she replied that she didn’t know how that was even possible in lockdown. It’s frightening but 18 months ago, I would absolutely have agreed with her.

My last alcoholic beverage was almost 3 weeks ago now, which on a personal level is great given that I was trying to reduce my alcohol intake for years and 18 months ago, even 3 weeks without a drink would have been unthinkable! Having said that, 3 weeks without an alcoholic beverage, or anything else, means that I am living through this pandemic (as are many others of course), in full on technicolour with no escape from reality. That can also do a number on one’s mental health – I absolutely appreciate that this can mean that I am stressed and snapping at those closest to me which is no better so currently my goal is to improve on that. Otherwise, I may as well have a drink!

Current guidelines for both men and women are not to drink more than 14 units per week, but to spread those units over the week (rather than binge-drinking them all in one go), but also having several alcohol-free days per week. This equates to, roughly, 6 normal-sized glasses of wine or pints of beer per week. Of course, we can drink more than the recommended amount but just know that there will be a trade-off at some point, in either looks, physical health and/or mental health.

I know that my main reason for drinking, even now, is because I am “bored”; as if drinking alcohol will somehow magically stop me from being bored. What I have noticed though when I do drink these days is that I’m still bored when I drink alcohol, it’s just less noticeable because I’ve dulled my senses. I spend my time scrolling social media and doing nothing else. Not at all how I want to spend my lockdown.

It is so easy for our habits to change for the worse during a crisis like this and so much harder, for me anyway, to get the status quo back. I guess what might be telling is if before lockdown you could easily only have a drink after 6pm or at a weekend or go for a week or longer without an alcoholic beverage but now the thought somehow freaks you out or you don’t think you could do it, that’s a little red flag right there. Nipping it in the bud sooner rather than later might be easiest in the long run.

If you do want any advice or help with managing your alcohol intake, I found this site had a lot of great ideas: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/latest-uk-alcohol-unit-guidance/

Otherwise, as long as you’re happy with your alcohol intake then – cheers! 🙂

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