Find out how to stay healthy and avoiding turning to drink during the current crisis
We all know it is an incredibly stressful time for everyone right now, and as some of us adapt to new ways of living and working it’s more important than ever to look after both our physical and mental health.
One way to help stay fit and healthy during this time is by not drinking too much and that is why we’re worried about more people using alcohol as a coping mechanism.
We’ve all seen the reports of people stocking up on alcohol to see them through a difficult period. The worry is that this might mean people will reach for a drink most nights as a prop and alcohol consumption creeps up, which can have serious health consequences. This can lead to habits forming that are really bad for our health in the long-term and may also make us feel more tired, anxious and sluggish in the short term.
Regularly drinking above the weekly guidelines increases the risk of a whole range of conditions, including heart disease, stroke and seven types of cancer. Heavy drinking can also increase the risk of respiratory disease. We know drinking can make us feel tired out, but perhaps equally worrying during such stressful times is alcohol’s link to depression. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, regularly drinking alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain and can increase the risk of depression. Increased consumption can lead to feelings of low mood and anxiety. So, at a time when we’re already feeling anxious – turning to drink may only increase our anxious thoughts and actually make us feel worse.
So what’s the best approach?
It’s worth keeping in mind the Chief Medical Officer’s low risk drinking guidelines which advises drinking no more than 14 units a week to ensure we’re not putting our health at risk. We know many people are unaware of these drinking guidelines and the potential risks from exceeding them. We often under-estimate how much we are drinking. Two standard glasses of wine a night is almost double the recommended limit to keep our health risks from alcohol low. And with pubs closing, home-poured measures can be a lot bigger and contain more units than the drinks people might buy down their local pub.
Perhaps those of us who are parents should also think about the messages we are sending our children about how to cope in difficult times. Reaching for alcohol too often is not the answer and may make problems seem worse.
In an unprecedented crisis like this, alcohol might not be the first issue that concerns us. However, the potential for people drinking more has a potentially serious impact for the health of people in the North East and in adding more unnecessary strain on our stretched public services.
So, if you want to stay healthy over the next few months and reduce your risk of alcohol related harm, follow our top five tips:
- Don’t stockpile alcohol in the house. The chances are you will go through it faster.
- Take more Drink Free Days – it’s a good way to keep your consumption in check
- With the schools closed, think about being a good role model to your kids around alcohol, which includes how often and how much you drink alcohol. None of us want to teach our children that we should be drinking every night.
- You can track your units, calories and money saved when you cut down or cut out alcohol through the Try Dry app.
- Visit http://www.reducemyrisk.tv/ to try the quiz about how well you know your alcohol units.
Stay safe everyone.