Stress, Anxiety, Alcohol and Coronavirus:

Covid-19 and the impacts from it have impacted upon all us in many ways. With lockdowns and local restrictions (such as the three tier approach), all of us have had to adapt and make changes to our behaviours. There are some things that we are prohibited from doing, some that are allowed but are now set up differently to how they used to be, and all of us need to be vigilant and mindful of social distancing, wearing masks and hand washing.

As I've written about before, there is a wealth of evidence about how coronavirus has impacted upon our mental health, particularly anxiety, stress and worry. As well as the general fears and anxiety about jobs, money, education, restricted social interaction and so on, there is also the fear of contracting the coronavirus and the potential health and other consequences that could come from this (coronaphobia).

One thing that many clients, particularly those with anxiety, have told me about is their increase in alcohol drinking. Of course, many people use alcohol to unwind and relax and over the last ten years I've helped many people who struggled with binge drinking or excessive drinking to take back control over their alcohol use. Yet it does seem that many people, through this coronavirus pandemic, may have been drinking more to help them to deal with things and to try and physically and mentally escape and relax.

Whilst in my younger (not so long ago...!) days I used to drink a bit, but these days I rarely have any alcohol. I find it makes me feel rough and lethargic the next day, and it's not nice trying to get up at 5.30am for bootcamp or a run as it is!

So beyond the number of people telling me of their anxiety and alcohol use during the coronavirus pandemic, what does the science tell us about it?

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Binge Drinking - the next day impact of heavy alcohol drinking:

Next month marks the annual 'Go Sober For October' campaign where thousands of people quit alcohol for the entire month to raise money for MacMillan cancer support (an awesome charity by the way).

And let's be honest, it really should be relatively straight forward to not need alcohol for a few weeks shouldn't it? Whether you are taking part in 'Go Sober For October' or have just made the decision to cut down your alcohol consumption, you are likely to benefit from sleeping better, feeling more energised and just feeling healthier (as well as saving a fortune that you would have spent on booze). And there's the added benefit of no hangovers (along with those hangover promises you make to yourself about how you'll never drink excessively again....).  

Some recent research has looked at the impact on the next day effects of heavy drinking and how it impacts on your thoughts and performance. 

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Do you need help to curtail your binge drinking? Are you unable to stop and continue until the last drop is gone?

Recently I was chatting with a client who had come to see me about binge drinking. I've been helping him to end his binge drinking and take control over alcohol.

And with the recent new UK guidelines on safe alcohol limits, now may be a good time to take control over your drinking so that you no longer need alcohol as a crutch or a habit you can't do without. 

So what are the first steps you can take to start controlling your binge drinking?

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Many of my clients, when they first come to see me, use alcohol as an external method of trying to control bad feelings – they feel anxious so have a drink to relax and try and calm their thoughts, they drink a few before meeting up with friends to feel more confident, they need a drink at the end of the working day to unwind and so on.

The problem comes when it isn’t possible to not have a drink, their health starts to suffer, they start forgetting parts of the evening or they find they can no longer go without a drink.

If you want to break this cycle then here are a few starters:

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Is excessive drinking or binge drinking causing you problems? Maybe it’s affecting your relationships, health or career or maybe you know that the drinking has become a way to escape your feelings or you think you need it to switch off and relax.

Most people enjoy the occasional drink, whether it’s a social thing, when enjoying a nice meal or to unwind. However, when you start to rely on alcohol every day or you binge because you can’t stop yourself then you need to find a way to regain your control over your drinking.

Ending Binge Drinking

Recently I was visited by a client who would binge drink on a Friday and Saturday night. He would often have the best intentions of stopping after a couple but somehow that point came and went as he drank more and more. He would often

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