Practical Advice for Sober Curious and Mindful Drinking at Home in COVID-19 Isolation
Communities nationwide are adapting their way of life to play a role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 (coronoavirus) in Ireland. Part of this is that our home is now far more than a much-loved private oasis to spend time with family or unwind after a long day. It’s where we work, eat, drink, socialise, learn, exercise, shop, play and sleep. It’s also where new habits and routines are being formed, some healthy and others less so.
If you, like so many others have shared with us on Instagram and Facebook, are drinking more alcohol than usual to cope with boredom, anxiety or stress, we have some tips for sober curious and mindful drinking, and tools to help. While we are all rightly preoccupied with protecting our families and homes from Covid-19, let’s also make sure that we are looking after our mental and physical wellbeing long after this is behind us. We’re all in this together.
- It may not surprise you that in Ireland, drinking is typically driven by social motivations which can make it difficult for anyone who makes the choice not to drink alcohol. In this time of physical distancing, where social occasions in the traditional sense are on hold, we have an opportunity to think about where and if alcohol fits in our life. Even if you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to alcohol altogether, taking a break from alcohol is one of the best things you can do for your health.
- If you’re hosting or attending a virtual catch-up with friends over a drink, why not set a challenge for everyone to create their own no-alcohol drink? Share the recipes with the group, make them at home and on your next video call, everyone can vote for their favourite mocktail. Here are three recipes to get you started.
- Remove alcohol from your shopping list for now. This is a stressful time and one thing we know for use is that using alcohol as a way to cope with these feelings is not going to make you feel better. Read tips for minding your mental health during Covid-19
- Have plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives in the house. There are so many no-alcohol wines, spirits and beers to take advantage of so it’s a good time to make the swap. For parents, keeping these options visible and alcohol out of sight shows your kids that alcohol isn’t needed to relax, there are plenty of alternatives available and sends a clear message that it is not intended for children.
- Always use a measure for spirits or wine. Free pouring makes it almost impossible to know how much you are drinking. Order one for free
- Downsize your drink by using a smaller glass. This might sound obvious but can make all the difference, especially for wine as we know that these glasses are bigger than ever, and many are able to hold unhealthy volumes of alcohol. The smaller your glass, the less alcohol it can hold.
- Alternate each drink with a glass of water to reduce the dehydration associated with alcohol. Keep a jug of water handy to make this easier.
- Avoid topping up your glass. Finish one drink before pouring another, which makes it much easier to track how much you're really drinking over the course of the night.
- Parents and adult family members in the house have a great opportunity to set a positive example around alcohol. Almost 1 in 5 adults in Ireland were first introduced to alcohol at home, and 27% were given their first drink by a parent or close relative. Think about the messages you're sending around alcohol, particularly during this time at home. As a child’s number one influence, parents have a proactive role to play in shaping mindful and sober curious attitudes towards alcohol. Visit our parent site for tips
- Break unhealthy new habits. As we all know, they are easily formed but harder to break. If your new norm is a few cans of beer or glasses of wine to pass the time every night, acknowledge that this is happening and make a conscious decision to do something else. Keeping motivated can feel like a challenge right now but there are a lot of healthy ways to fill free time. Go for a walk ensuring physical distancing, join an online workout session or tackle that long to-do list for the house (we all have one!) that you’ve just never had the time to tick off.
Home drinking in Ireland
Drinking at home is fast becoming the new norm in Ireland, with the Drinkaware Index 2019 showing that 61% of all weekly drinking occasions now take place at home. This can present its own issues that make it more likely a person will drink more alcohol than intended. At almost every workshop or event we host, people share with us how easy they feel it can be to drink a full bottle of wine or six-pack of beer a few times a week, without setting out to or even realising until it’s too late.
What this means in practical terms is that there is a higher chance of binge drinking (six or more standard drinks in one sitting e.g. three pints of beer) and consuming the HSE low-risk weekly guidelines in a shorter space of time. This increases risks to physical health and wellbeing including cancer, heart disease and mental health problems including anxiety and depression.
FOLLOW HSE GUIDANCE TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19