Kate's Blog

Staying Sober During The Coronavirus Outbreak

The spread of the coronavirus is creating a lot of uncertainty and our lives are being disrupted.

Fear, anxiety and cravings for alcohol are all normal – and understandable – reactions.
I know it can feel extra challenging to stay on track with your sober goals at the moment, but right now, it’s more important than ever to look after our health. 
Staying alcohol free is a great thing to do for yourself over the coming weeks.
In fact, when I think about the advantages of being sober at this time, there are 5 things that spring to mind: 

1. Give your immune system the best chance to do its job

Numerous studies have found that alcohol weakens the immune system. People who drink in excess are more susceptible to respiratory illness and pneumonia. And it’s not just chronic drinking that does the damage – binge drinking can also impair the immune system.
Looking after our health isn’t just about washing our hands and social distancing. Right now, it simply doesn’t make sense to be drinking a toxic, poisonous substance that makes us more vulnerable to viruses.

2. The hangxiety will make you feel worse

A common side effect of drinking is morning after ‘hangxiety’ (yes, it’s a real thing – more on that here). For me, it felt like a combination of guilt, stress, anxiety and a sense of impending doom. So, not exactly fun. 
Over the coming weeks, we’re going to have to deal with a lot of changes and uncertainty. I’ll admit, I don’t love that – but it is much easier to stay calm when you’re not dealing with a headache and raging hangxiety (or beating yourself up for drinking too much).

3. It’s easier to show up for the people you care about

Whether it’s friends, family or neighbours – we all know people who are more vulnerable than us. It’s much easier to look after those around us when we’re clear headed. Here’s what Jessica (one of my Getting Unstuck students) posted in our Facebook group over the weekend: 
“I have never been more grateful for my sobriety. In these turbulent times with coronavirus, self isolation, kids off school, had I been my former, drinking self, I would have been coping very badly. I would not have been able to care for my family in the way I feel confident I can now.”

4. Drinking requires constant management

When I was drinking, I was always wondering if I had enough wine at home. Was I sure? When was I going to make time to get some more? Has anyone noticed? Do other people drink this much? What if I run out? So many questions!
I don’t know what things are like where you are, but here a lot of supermarket shelves are empty. People are panic buying toilet rolls. Making sure you have hold of the basics is one thing, but worrying about alcohol is an extra level of anxiety you don’t need.


5. Alcohol won’t change anything

Drinking won’t alter the reality of this situation, nor will it make you feel better. If you drink because of stress caused by the coronavirus, all you do is hurt yourself more. The only thing alcohol is any good for is making hand sanitizer.

How to manage fear and anxiety without drinking

In the comments section below, I’d love to hear what helps you deal with uncertainty and worry, sober. I know you’ll have some great ideas! Here’s what’s working for me right now:

1. Limiting the amount of news I see

I’m a former journalist and normally a total news junkie. However, I’m finding the endless coronavirus updates to be fairly stress-inducing. There’s a fine line between being informed and being overwhelmed, so I’m trying to watch the news at specific times of day, rather than checking constantly.

2. Practicing good self care

Self care can be as simple as going to bed early enough to get the sleep you need. Turning your phone off. Staying hydrated. Easing off on your to do list. Or zoning out by watching Netflix or getting lost in a good book. This stuff is all really important right now. 

3. Actively looking for the positives

Cancelling plans and staying at home doesn’t fill me with joy, but I’m trying to focus on the upsides of being forced to slow down. The coronavirus is providing a great opportunity to do a bit less, unplug, read the books I never get round to, and do the things I keep putting off. We can use this time for good. 

4. Staying connected

Addiction thrives in isolation. As humans, we’re wired for connection – we need it! The good news is, we can still stay connected, even with social distancing. Now’s the time to be proactive; get on the phone or make a video call, use social media as a force for good. We’re stronger together.
For help and support to take a break from booze – click here for details of my online course.

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


47 Responses

  1. I’m one of your October 19 graduates and I’m really grateful to be AF right now! If I was drinking I would be sticking my head in the sand hoping it all goes away somehow. Instead I’ve been able to plan properly and think ahead to what we’ll do if (when?) the schools close – my husband and I both work. It is a worrying time, but drinking would NOT help. I also find stopping to take deep breaths really helps when my mind is racing.

    1. Good to hear from you Louise and congratulations on your sobriety! Deep breaths and staying sober is definitely a great combination. Be well ❤️

      1. I work in food retail, and, even though the news tells everyone to stay away from large groups of people, we have been packed out for the last week with panic buying & selfish greed.. I came home this evening & cried…and cried. I would usually reach for the gin but a long hot shower & homemade soup was my solace. I’m day 81 sober & I am so so anxious that I’m going to fail in the panic pandemic..

        1. Well done for not drinking Nic – it must be a stressful situation for you. Many congratulations on your 81 days. Keep going and take good care of yourself. You can do it 🙂

        2. I’m so scared.Thankyou Kate for your awesome straightforward advice. Embarrassingly I’m on day
          One again. Deep breathing and meditation help.Eating healthy. Maintaining friendships with sober people through call or text.Getting on the sober sphere and reading blogs like yours and other’s.8

          1. Hi Vicki – I’d love to help you quit. I know how hard it can be when you’re doing this alone. I can only ever share a few short tips in each blog, so if you’d like some structured ongoing support, please do check out my online course: https://thesoberschool.com/course
            Then we can really get you taking action and making some very exciting changes 🙂

        3. Well done. Keep it up!! Only think success. Transform your fear into your healthy desire. you’re a winner!

    2. Hi, still sober after six weeks, went to a party last Saturday but felt fine drinking fizzy water. So far so good

    3. Thanks Kate for all this valuable information. Off the drink almost 3 weeks. I don’t intend to stop for good but it is definitely helping my health as I’ve a very low immune system. It has also helped me to think about how much I was drinking (too much)! During this sad time with what’s happening I try and consentrate on all the positive things and when the negatives kick in I try and do something to distract me as it would be too easy to hit the booze and then go out and get some more lol. Stay safe x

      1. Well done on your 3 weeks Colette. Keep going – you haven’t come this far to only come this far. The best is yet to come! 🙂

    4. I have to admit my stress level is high, largely because my son and daughter in law live in Indonesia, and they are deciding if they should come home. Having adult children means I can’t tell them what to do! If i could, I would say, get home right now!!!!! Anyways, I am so grateful to be sober, it makes it way easier to cope.

    5. Hello Kate,
      I’m one of your Feb 2020 graduates. It’s definitely a very
      stressful time for us all. I’m in the US. Located in South central Michigan. It’s a small town and
      we’re just beginning to feel/experience this Pandemic. Positive cases of the virus are now 1 county away and knowing what we know, we’ll, I can only imagine what is in store for us all. That being said, I’m so thankful that I completed your course. I don’t even want to think about how poorly the old me would have reacted to these recent developments. The fear and anxiety felt anticipating whats to come, we’ll, it can be consuming if one allows it to be. I’m determined to remain Sober through all of this. Not that I don’t think about “tuning out” from time to time. It’s just that my desire to remain present and available for my family is stronger then my desire to numb it all, and for that, I’m Very thankful for you and your course.
      Praying for the health and safety of you and your loved ones.

      1. Thanks for your good wishes Jēna. I’m so pleased to hear you’re still alcohol free! Congratulations.
        It really does put you in the best position for dealing with the coming weeks. Take care and be well 🙂

    6. I would be freaking out at not having enough wine and if in isolation at home I’d probably be drinking earlier and earlier in the day! Thanks to you Kate I’m happily sober (nearly 18months) and I’m going to see this through with my wits about me and able to care for my kids and anyone else who might need my help in the best possible way!

  2. Thanks for all your info and especially the reminders about the immune system. I am not used to being home all day, and it is isolating. I have found it helpful to make a daily schedule with things like walking, cooking, reading, etc. Let’s all try to heed the recommendations, and taking things day by day.

    1. It’s definitely an adjustment when you’re not used to working from home. I think having a schedule for yourself is a great idea. And now is a great time to just stay in the moment, and not think too far ahead 🙂

  3. I guess I’m lucky because the last thing I want right now is to have a drink. I want my mind clear and focused and able to respond well to whatever comes my way. I am also taking advantage of my extra free time by playing my musical instruments and finishing some songs I’ve been working on that I haven’t had time for. And I’m especially grateful for the extra time with my dog who is suffering from two life-threatening conditions and has a limited number of days left.

  4. I’m finding people are reaching out to me and I’m reaching out to others – lots of messenging, video calls, social media checking in. I’m using local shops, avoiding supermarkets and using my time to do lots of dressmaking and play my bass. And now I’m not fretting about travelling to places, meeting people and doing things,I find I am sleeping wonderfully well. Morning meditation and evening lists of things I’m grateful for all help too. Avoiding the news definitely helps a lot.

    1. Dressmaking, playing bass and meditation is a great combination! It’s great to have some time to do these things now 🙂

  5. I am retired and as a true introvert the mandate to stay home as much as possible is not an onerous burden to me, or all that unusual compared to my normal routines. Perhaps the isolation for others could be alleviated somewhat with actual telephone calls or video calls to family and friends instead of the usual texts and reliance on social media. I am really glad, just over 35 days AF, that I did not “need” to stock up on a month’s worth of booze!

    1. My thoughts exactly – carrying home all that booze (on top of everything else!) would’ve been quite a challenge… congratulations on your 35 days!

  6. I’m doing great! I’ve always been a person that holds it together during a crisis. My drinking had a lot to do with boredom. I will celebrate 2 years 4/15 and i’m keeping myself busy and looking after my elderly parents. Thank you Kate! You inspire me!

  7. October 17 graduate – life is so much easier and calmer without alcohol in my life, I’ve got back time and energy too. Thank you Kate x

  8. I have been so thankful over the last while that I haven’t used wine as a soother or a coping mechanism. Reading your reasons why not to drink during this difficult time was as if you were reading my mind. I am so thankful I am not adding the anxiety of guilt and fear about drinking too much to an already strange situation. I have once or twice thought about having wine but then the freedom of knowing I can get up at any time day or night and go for a drive or a walk is so much more important and positive. Thanks for the blogs, it was as always inspiring, because it’s so simple and easy to connect with. Stay healthy.

    1. Thanks Sharon – I’m so pleased to hear you’re keeping things alcohol free. It’s just easier, especially right now. Take care 🙂

  9. These are all great tips. I have put some in place. Having had a recent relapse which ended in me being very physically unwell I am grateful to have gotten through it and am now eating well again after not really eating for nearly a week. Increased exercise and looking after myself, which allows me to help others, including elderly parents. I wouldn’t be coping if I was drinking! The news is overwhelming and scary so have limited that too. The cravings come and go because of this but good seeking solitude in mindless TV, fabulous books, my gorgeous fur baby who makes my world and reading your posts and blogs all help. Thank you

    1. You can’t beat a bit of mindless TV and a good book for some escapism. Great to hear you’re back on track Leonie. Keep going! 🙂

  10. Thank you for this Kate!
    I am a 2020 graduate and still sober! It’s been 80 days now and I am so pleased I’m sober right now. I have asthma but I feel healthier than ever, so if I was to catch the virus, my immune system is a lot stronger then it would have been before.
    I’m stocking up on flavoured coffee, hot cross buns and crumpets.

    1. Ah congratulations Zee… 80 days is fantastic! Well done. I’m glad you’re feeling so health – that’s a good place to be in right now. Enjoy your hot cross buns!

  11. Thank you for this! It was much needed. I have already started to implement these truths in my life and so grateful to be validated!

    1. No problem Terry. Wishing you all the best on your alcohol free journey. Keep going, it’s so worth it 🙂

  12. Great post. Wish I had read it before I went into self-isolation. Been needlessly stressing out reading news on my phone every 15 minutes. Been a blessing in some ways though. Using the time to do a lot of productive stuff.
    Stay safe. Mike.

  13. I’m 13 days af … I’ve been putting all my xtra energy into cleaning and decluttering the house and using my treadmill … feeling great

  14. Thank you… very helpful support and much appreciated… coming on my first month AF. No looking back. Feel amazing..

  15. I actually went and bought 1.5 litres of vodka on Thursday it has now been drank between 2 of us.
    I say to my husband please don’t offer me a drink tonight. I say this each day but he does it still I say yes and end up 3 large ones(equivalent to 9 if I’m honest) feel like a failure 5 nights in a row.

  16. Kate, if my memory is correct, today is your anniversary, so Happy Anniversary! It is mine too! 2 years of sobriety and I thank God for it every day, especially now. I owe my two years to you and your incredible course. I was in the April 2018 class. I’ve said many times over these past weeks that getting sober was God’s way of preparing me for this event. If I was still drinking I would be a train wreck right now. I am required to be at home, living in NY, and if I was still drinking I am certain it would be OUT OF CONTROL! As a school teacher I am still working but everything is online and it has been a huge adjustment for everyone. Long days and lots of anxiety and I know I would not be handling it half as well if I was waiting for 4 pm every day to crack open a beer. Best of luck to everyone reading your post and know walking away from alcohol is by far the best thing you can do for yourself!

    1. Thank you Megan for your kind message – and many congratulations on your 2 years! That’s amazing. I’m so pleased to hear that sobriety is helping you cope with this challenging situation. Stay well and stay safe!

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