It’s time to understand what triggers your drinking and what the patterns of behaviour are. This can help identify ways to change those small things that have quickly become habits during COVID-19.
During COVID 19 we’ve all been stuck at home away from friends and fun, and it can get really boring. Like most of us, boredom loves company. Its best friends are stress and anxiety – and they all like to drop in for a visit. Usually around the same time you knock off from work.
Boredom, stress and anxiety are some of the key triggers that set us reaching for a beer or wine. We might have one glass, then another, and why not just finish off the bottle. It’s not just when you finish the last work call; it might be after tucking the kids in to bed, or on those days when there is no set routine.
Without the usual structure and support in our lives, small things can quickly become habits and start to escalate. Sound familiar? You are not alone. New research has found that almost 20 per cent of people have been drinking more under lockdown than they usually do.
Know the healthy limits
While our lives have changed, the guidelines for healthy drinking have not. In Australia, the drinking guidelines recommend healthy adults consume no more than 10 standard drinks per week. Over time, drinking more than this increases your risk of long term health problems like cancers, heart disease and liver disease. Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to accidental injury, being in a road accident or relationship issues.
Plan to succeed
If you’re wanting to develop healthier habits, a plan is a good place to start. Have a think about your:
- Triggers — why, when and where do you drink most, and who are you with?
- Goals — why do you want to reduce or quit alcohol?
- Strategies — how can you reduce or quit alcohol?
- Support — who will you turn to for help?
It helps to put things down in writing. You can download the ADF Alcohol Diary that contains tools to work through what your triggers are and to keep track of your goals and your progress.
Keep track of triggers
Keeping a note of what triggers your desire to drink is a great idea. For instance, you could soon see a pattern between an urge for a beer and feeling bored, or a glass of wine to release stress. Try delaying that desire – do something else and see if you still want the drink later.
Once you know why you drink, you can work out ways to avoid situations where you might be tempted to drink. Carve out time for enjoyable activities and personal treats that don’t involve alcohol.