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Top tips to keep your drinking in check during the pandemic

Posted by: Danica Keric
Woman drinking tea in her home office

Top tips to keep your drinking in check during the pandemic

We’ve heard it over and over again that these are unprecedented times. More of us are working from home than ever before. Many have had our hours or days of work reduced, leading to more free time but nowhere to go. When we work, relax, and live in the same space, it can get challenging.

It’s not surprising that many employees are looking for ways to reduce stress. For some, it might be tempting to turn to alcohol as soon as the work day is over. But rather than help us cope, alcohol can actually make us feel more stressed and anxious. It can also affect our sleep, mood, and ability to fight disease.

Reducing your drinking will not only help to keep you healthy and safe now, it will also help you  reduce your risk of cancers and other health problems later.

Here are our top tips for keeping your drinking in check during the pandemic. 

Commit to having alcohol-free days

Alcohol-free days are helpful in breaking the rhythm and cycle of drinking.

If you find yourself reaching for a beer or wine when you finish work, switching up your routine can help break the cycle of drinking every day.  Why not try  putting the kettle on instead, or going outside to get some fresh air or for a quick walk. To work up a sweat, try one of the many free workout videos available online for a session you can do in your home. There are added benefits to working out - physical exercise can help relieve tension and relax your mind.

For more on how creating a habit of having alcohol-free days will help you stay physically and mentally healthy, head to ABC Life.

Limit how much alcohol you keep in the house

If it’s not there, you can’t drink it! When it comes to alcohol, easy access is the ultimate enabler and if all it takes is opening the fridge, then you’re potentially on a slippery slope. The more alcohol you have in the house, the more likely you are to drink and to drink it sooner than you had intended.

Instead of keeping a steady supply of alcohol nearby, only buy small amounts at a time. Better yet, you could try to keep your house alcohol-free and only head to the bottle shop when celebrating special occasions.

Swap to low-alcohol or alcohol-free alternatives

Low and no alcohol products are a good alternative for people who want to reduce their drinking. There are now lots of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirit options available. These products generally taste similar to alcoholic products, but are a smart way of ensuring you are drinking less and minimising the negative impacts of alcohol. Keeping your house stocked with other attractive non-alcoholic drinks will also help. Make sure you have lots of good teas, sparkling water, kombucha (look for a low-sugar option) and anything else you enjoy drinking. If you need inspiration, check out LiveLighter for some great non-alcoholic drink recipes.

Stay at low-risk of alcohol-related harm

To stay at low-risk of alcohol-related harm, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommends drinking:

  • no more than 2 standard drinks on any one day to prevent long-term harm from alcohol
  • no more than 4 standard drinks on any one occasion to prevent injury.

Keeping a count of how many drinks you have will help you stay at low-risk. Check out Alcohol.Think Again for an online standard drink tool, where you can learn what a standard drink is and how many standard drinks are in the drinks you typically pour. Alcohol.Think Again also has a quick and simple online tool you can use to assess if your current drinking habits are putting you at risk.

Start with water and make every second drink non-alcoholic

If your workplace is hosting virtual Friday night drinks or if you’re catching up with friends online, remember to drink at low-risk levels. Before starting to drink, have a few glasses of water, so you don’t drink fast in the beginning just because you are thirsty.

Try having non-alcoholic beverages like kombucha, sparkling water, or non-alcoholic beer as spacers between your alcoholic drinks. Make sure you drink slowly and take time to enjoy the taste. Your body will thank you for it the next day. 

Keep occupied and entertained at home

Act Belong Commit has lots of great ideas to stay entertained and mentally healthy while at home. Keeping your brain active is important. Puzzles and podcasts are a great way to get you thinking, or you could get in touch with your creative side and have a go at painting or a colouring in book.

For more tips on how to reduce your drinking at home and other ways to keep entertained, head to the Alcohol.Think Again website.

For more information about maintaining health and wellbeing whilst working from home please visit:

About

Danica is an Alcohol Policy and Research Coordinator at Cancer Council WA. She works to stimulate community discussion about alcohol issues with the aim of reducing the impacts of alcohol on the WA community, including as a cause of cancer.

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