How are you doing?… We are probably all feeling more stressed than usual.  As SeeMe, the mental health campaign, says: it’s okay to not be okay.  These are truly difficult times.  Like me, you may have lost someone you know to the virus, missed sharing a special occasion with family, or maybe finding it difficult to adjust to living within the confines of your home.  Perhaps you are a key worker, keeping the country going with essential supplies, bravery and care.  All of us need to take good care of ourselves and those around us, and to find ways of managing these new, intense pressures.

One of the less helpful ways of dealing with stress can be to drink more often or more heavily than we might normally. There have been reports of alcohol sales having gone up over the last few weeks. It’s not uncommon to use alcohol to cope with emotions or regulate our mood, but that can cause problems too, because alcohol is a depressant. This means that, while it might temporarily make us feel relaxed and happy, as we drink more it can have actually have the opposite effect.

If you are drinking at home, it’s a good idea to try and keep track of how much you’re having. It’s easy to pour bigger measures or drink more without meaning to. Try to stick to the low-risk guidelines of no more than 14 units a week for both men and women. With lockdown days at risk of merging into one it can be particularly helpful to try to make sure you have alcohol-free days.

It’s worth thinking about the more positive things that help you to relax. Incorporating a bit of exercise into your daily routine can be helpful; Joe Wicks and the Green Goddess are among those providing free workouts on tv or online.  I find stepping into the garden to pull a few weeds can also be quite therapeutic (as long as I concentrate on the little patch I’m clearing rather than the whole, messy garden!).  If you don’t have a garden, taking a daily walk and focusing on the signs and smells of spring might provide a bit of time out.  

Alison Douglas – Chief Executive Alcohol Focus Scotland

Images: Unsplash