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.