Over the period of mid-March to mid-April this year, almost twice as many Australian adults reported experiencing feelings associated with anxiety, such as nervousness or restlessness, compared to 2019.
According to the most recent well-being survey, people who report higher levels of anxiety, depression and distress are also more likely to use smoking, drinking and recreational drug taking as coping mechanisms.
It’s completely natural to feel stressed, anxious or bored right now; so, if you’ve been leaning on unhealthy coping strategies to try and alleviate these feelings, don’t be too hard on yourself – but, there are healthier options to consider moving forward.
In Australia, the government recommendation is to consume no more than 10 standard drinks of alcohol a week and no more than 4 standard drinks in any one day, to reduce the risk of harms. It is best not to drink alcohol everyday, and if you are under 18 or pregnant you shouldn’t drink at all.
Avoid stockpiling alcohol, as having a lot of alcohol in your home can increase your alcohol use, and the consumption of alcohol by others in your household.
Does alcohol help stress and negative moods?
Alcohol negatively affects mental health and can make you feel more depressed, anxious or stressed. If you are feeling this way seek help instead of a drink and call a mental health hotline (e.g. BeyondBlue, Lifeline).
I am worried about my or someone else’s drinking
If you or someone close to you is drinking alone, finding it hard to cut down their alcohol use, getting into arguments with others or not keeping up responsibilities, drinking alcohol may have become a health problem. Help is available 24/7 from the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline (1800 250 015). Alternatively you can speak to your GP, or chat to a counsellor online 24/7 at www.counsellingonline.org.au
How can I model good drinking behaviour to my children?
It is important to role model good coping strategies and healthy habits, as seeing how adults use alcohol can have a big influence on children’s future drinking habits. In practice this means you should limit drinking in their presence and be careful not to portray alcohol as a way to deal with stress.
What if I’m drinking because I’m bored or lonely?
There are healthier activities to relax and cope with how you are feeling. Stay connected with others by having virtual or phone catch-ups, listen to music, read a book, start something creative or try a new activity. Also remember to get outside to exercise.