Given the current social distancing restrictions in place to protect us from contracting Coronavirus (COVID-19), people are finding creative ways to pass the time at home. Others may be struggling with the lack of human interaction while being confined to their homes, especially if they are living alone.
Our new normal includes working from home, home-schooling the children, and incorporating pre and post production sanitizing measures for just about everything we do; in light of it all it is quite typical to feel overwhelmed. If you are isolating alone, your daily activities or lack thereof can most certainly have an impact on your mental health.
Under these circumstances, it is quite easy to reach for a glass of “something strong” to take the edge off. Some folks have found creative ways of bonding with friends and family with virtual hangouts; while others are using drinks to keep track of the days: Mojito Mondays, Tequila Tuesdays, Wine down Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursday and well you get the point. What does all of this have in common? ALCOHOL and lots of it.
It is very tempting to resort to drinking to pass the time at home especially if you are living alone. What makes alcohol such a dependable quarantine or isolation companion? It helps us to forget about our worries, feel less anxious, destress, relax and even makes us feel happy… for a while… then like those pre-pandemic Mondays, these feelings return like they never left.
But why is this? Alcohol contains psychoactive properties which when consumed releases a chemical called dopamine into the brain’s reward center which blocks/depresses those feelings of anxiousness and makes us feel relaxed and happy…for a while. Then comes the crash after the alcohol has worked its way out of your system and your brain now tries to bring you back to balance… and all the anxious feelings return. Now you have a choice to make… Do you start drinking all over again to suppress these anxious feelings? And risk developing a dependence or addiction. OR do you seek out alternate activities that can protect your mental health, help you to cope and even overcome the feelings of anxiousness that are quite normal to feel during this time of uncertainty.
Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts for surviving the COVID-19 pandemic without excessively consuming alcohol:
DON’T obsess about the pandemic and all the bad things that are happening as a result of it. This will only make you more anxious and depressed and can lead you to indulge in a “stress drink”.
DO stay connected, check in with loved ones, expand the depth of your conversations. Talk to persons you trust if you begin to feel anxious.
DON’T sit on the couch all-day binge-watching TV shows. Do not work overtime if you are working from home. This can lead you to feel overwhelmed. Get up, move around, go outside. Breathe!
DO maintain a schedule for working, sleeping, home schooling and mealtime. Do limit the amount of time you spend on social media and binge-watching TV shows.
DO exercise. Believe it or not, exercising also releases dopamine in the brain which helps you to destress, it also provides that feel-good feeling that will last longer and balances you naturally. Here is a Tip: use technology to stay connected and workout with your crew! After this pandemic you will all feel and look good together!
DON’T eat excessive amounts of fried and processed foods and avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
DO incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and remember to hydrate with water! Try a new recipe or reimagine a healthier way to recreate a family favourite (instead of fried chicken, try a baked “fried” chicken recipe).
DON’T try to be super mom/dad during quarantine, doing the most to entertain the kids and being the World’s best home-school teacher… this will only overwhelm you over time.
DO engage in pleasant activities: reconnect with your hobbies: reading, art and craft anything that makes you feel calm. If you are quarantining with your loved ones, have everyone make a list of activities that are fun for them and take turns doing each of these activities together and get everyone involved.
DO practice self-care: use this time to focus on you: meditate, do some yoga, pamper yourself, connect with your higher power. If you can self-soothe, then you are less likely to reach for that bottle.
If you can find a balance, then having an occasional drink during this time will not have a significant impact on your well-being and you can enjoy the once weekly fireball Friday or your virtual hangout with friends without feeling guilty.
However, if you are struggling during this period and find yourself relying on alcohol to escape, then please seek help to avoid developing a dependence. Speak with someone you trust about your challenges or seek professional help. There is a counsellor waiting to speak with you:
Phoenix Recovery Project:
The Caitlin Vieira Clinic:
Call 623 0433 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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