~ Follow along and read all of Annie’s columns on Elephant here.
Whether it’s to alleviate the stress and anxiety that the pandemic has brought on, to deal with the monotony of spending day after day at home doing the same things, or because time means nothing anymore now that work, home, and play are all intertwined—pandemic drinking has escalated for so many of us.
What starts as a drink or two more than usual can quickly morph into a bottle or two before we know it. Nine months into this global mess, many people find themselves pondering how to drink less during Covid and wondering if it’s even worth the effort to drink less!
If you have found your pandemic drinking has increased, you are not alone. We often turn to alcohol to fill one of two needs in times of uncertainty—to fulfill a missing connection/relationship or to numb.
Your pandemic drinking may have revealed an odd thing: as we increase our drinking in frequency, in the amount we drink, or both, we decrease the “benefits” we were seeking from it. The more we drink, the less we feel the warm fuzziness that originally came from it.
Instead, we start noticing that we’re drinking more and sleeping less. Our anxiety is increasing along with our irritability. We drink to feel good and to forget, yet now we just feel like crap more often and all the problems we drink to forget are still there.
How do you drink less during Covid when it seems like it’s the only thing that is still normal about this crazy world? Why would you even want to cut back?
Those questions are a great place to start. In fact, I think getting curious is where we should start each and every adventure we take on in life.
How to drink less during Covid:
Step 1: Get curious.
Why are you drinking more? Is the alcohol actually doing anything to help you cope? How do you feel about your drinking? How does it make you behave?
Yes, some of these questions could be painful to ask yourself and the answers might make you uncomfortable. Hardships elevate us. It is through pressure and intensity that we are forced to grow. That can be a really beautiful thing.
Once you get through those questions, dig deeper. Why do you want to take a break from alcohol or drink less? Are you just looking to prove to yourself that you’re not an alcoholic? Are you trying to see how life can improve when alcohol isn’t such an important part of it?
I’m going to interject with this statement here, and I want you to hold onto it even if you don’t do anything about changing your drinking right now:
It is okay and normal to question, examine, or want to change your relationship with alcohol.
It does not mean there is anything wrong with you or that you have a problem. Alcohol, even though it is legal, is a drug. You do not have to justify or feel guilty about eliminating its use to anyone at any time.
Back to our regular programming on reducing your pandemic drinking…
Step 2: Remove your expectations.
Our preconceived notions are seldom right. Yet, they create the mood for how things will go. So if you create the expectation that drinking less during Covid is going to suck and make an already miserable time even worse, it will. You already set the tone and your energy is set on proving your point. Don’t do that!
Go in expecting nothing. Just observe. You’re a tourist in a new land. (This is the closest any of us are getting to a vacation anytime soon anyhow, might as well enjoy it!) Allow yourself to just uncover the hidden gems and unexpected perks that come with this journey.
Step 3: Make it about you.
You may have noticed that your loved ones, friends, and others around you are also partaking in a bit too much pandemic drinking. Your concern is valid and comes from such a great place. However, we can’t force anyone to change. So even if someone in your own home is still drinking more than you’d like them to, you can’t change that. Make this about you. These changes are for your health, your happiness, your clarity, your peace. Do not let anyone else influence you to do something that chips away at any of those.
Chances are that once you’re able to drink less during Covid, others will see the change in you and get curious about what has changed. That’s your opportunity to share your journey and help guide them.
Step 4: Don’t fear failure.
The biggest stumbling block we come across—whether it’s in figuring out how to drink less alcohol in the midst of a global pandemic or in deciding to make any other change in our lives—is a fear of failure. You cannot fail at this. There is no failure when it comes to getting curious and learning more about yourself.
If you try to drink less and discover that at this point in time you aren’t able to, you have not failed. You’ve learned. You now know that you need something more or something different. It could be that you need to work on discovering different coping mechanisms, that you need to work with a professional, or that you need to make another change in environment or circumstance first. That isn’t failure. It’s self-discovery, which is vital on the road to change.
Step 5: Don’t do it alone.
Your pandemic drinking may have taken off because of lockdown and social distancing but that does not mean that you need to tackle changing it alone. We need each other. We need to be able to talk to others like us, share our struggles, our breakthroughs, and our victories.
The Alcohol Experiment is a place where you can find that connection. You will receive encouraging and mindset shifting daily videos and emails along with an incredible community of 175,000+ people also experimenting with their alcohol intake and how to drink less during Covid. It is completely free (and always will be) at The Alcohol Experiment.