“It may take a village to raise a child but it’s going to take a vineyard to homeschool this kid!”
I’ve seen so many posts like this on social media recently (and I bet you have too!)
We’re all looking for ways to cope right now, so it’s not surprising that many people are drinking more. We tend to turn to alcohol in a crisis.
But – and you knew there was a ‘but’ coming – when so many people are drinking more in order to deal with this crisis, it’s easy to overlook an obvious question:
Does alcohol really help us cope?
If you’re drinking more right now, you’re not alone.
In the UK, alcohol sales in supermarkets and corner shops were up by 22% in March. According to a study by Alcohol Change UK, one in five people say they’re drinking more during this global crisis.
On social media, I’d guess that memes, jokes and posts about booze have increased by about 100%. Whatever the number, it feels like a big increase. And how it feels is important. It’s easy to think, “Well if everyone is drinking, it must be a good idea?”
What is coping, really?
Coping is about managing your emotions successfully – i.e. in a way that doesn’t add further stress to your life. Alcohol does not do that.
Within a few hours, drinking will make you feel worse. A hangover makes everything from homeschooling to looking after your health much harder.
Plus, the morning after hangxiety will make you even more stressed out, so you crave another drink even more. It’s a vicious cycle.
Assessing alcohol properly
Many people fixate on how alcohol makes them feel during the first 30 – 60 mins. But this is like reviewing a movie based on the first scene alone.
When judging alcohol as a coping mechanism, you’ve got to look at the whole picture. So that means accounting for how well you cope the next day, when you’re hungover after drinking.
How is alcohol helping you cope when you wake up at 4am, unable to sleep? How is it helping you cope when you feel tired, irritable and anxious the next day?
Choose a different belief
If you’ve read this far, then it’s highly likely that the “alcohol helps me cope” story isn’t working for you. The good news? You can choose a different story.
I know you can do this because you’re a strong person. (It’s a total myth that drinkers are weak. You have to be strong in order to drink, deal with all the side effects and still keep the show on the road.)
What if you believed that being alcohol-free was essential for coping with this crisis? What if your story was, “this is a great time to be hangover-free.” Or “lockdown is an opportunity to quietly take a break from booze.”
What if you just experimented with that idea?
More help and support
This blog has more tips on coping with stress, sober. This one is all about challenging your beliefs about booze. And here’s some more information about my online course, which will help you change your relationship with alcohol for good.