With the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, it is a stressful time for many people with many aspects of our daily lives changing rapidly. Some of us may turn to alcohol for short-term stress relief or because of boredom, but rather than helping us cope, alcohol can make us feel more stressed and anxious.
To stay healthy and well, it’s important that if you’re going to drink, to do so at low-risk levels.
Health experts recommend for healthy adults:
The following tips can help you keep your drinking in check during this stressful time.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommend drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the risk of alcohol-caused disease, and no more than four standard drinks to reduce the risk of alcohol-caused injury.
Set yourself a drinks limit that is consistent with advice from the NHMRC and stop once you’ve reached it. You’ll find you can do without that extra drink after all and your body will thank you for it the next day.
Creating the habit of having a few alcohol-free days each week will help you stay healthy. Not only will reducing how regularly you drink reduce your risk of alcohol-caused disease, you’ll also see immediate physical and mental benefits such as better sleep, more energy, better mood and decreased anxiety, not to mention the cost savings.
Use our ‘drinking levels and your risk’ tool to see the benefit of reducing how many times a week you drink.
Low and no alcohol products are a good alternative for people who want to reduce their drinking – they have the same or similar taste, but contain less alcohol. There are an ever increasing range of low and no alcohol products available at many retailers.
If it’s not there, you can’t drink it! It’s like chocolate! Easy access is the ultimate enabler, and if all it takes is opening the fridge then you’re potentially on a slippery slope to be tempted.
If you’re not ready to make your house a drink-free zone, just avoid stocking up on alcohol at the next trip to the bottle shop. Research tells us the more alcohol we buy, the more likely we are to drink it sooner than we had intended. So while you might have good intentions to stock up for two weeks, you might find yourself coming up empty sooner rather than later.
In addition to the range of non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirit options available, keeping your house stocked with good teas, sparkling water, kombucha and other non-alcoholic drinks will also help. Substituting alcoholic drinks with tasty non-alcoholic drinks is a good alternative for people choosing to reduce their intake.
The earlier you start drinking, the longer a drinking session can become. If you choose to drink, find a milestone in your day that isn’t until later in the evening such as dinner or after you exercise to have a drink. The later you start drinking, the less alcohol you are likely to consume.
Drink non-alcoholic drinks, such as water, soda, kombucha or soft drinks, as spacers between your alcoholic drinks. Try to drink these at the same pace as you do alcohol.
Drink slowly rather than gulping or sculling to control the rate of drinking. You can enjoy your drink just as much, if not more, if you drink slowly.
With food in your stomach you are likely to drink more slowly and the alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream at a slower rate. Drinking only with dinner or a meal will limit the period of time for you to be drinking, likely reducing how much you drink overall.
If your regular routine includes relaxing with a drink, change it up by going outside to get some fresh air and exercise. Play with your pet or your child, or do some gardening. If pouring a glass of wine while cooking dinner is your go-to, wait until dinner is ready to have a drink.
Click here for ways to stay entertained and active in the home.
1 National Health and Medical Research Council. (2009). Australian Guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.
Page last updated: 6 April 2020
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