If you’ve been doing everything right to limit your risk for COVID-19, there may be one thing that you simply can’t defend against: its effect on your mental health.
A recent survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that many Americans are gaining weight and drinking more as a means of coping with the stress of the pandemic.
Weight gain—particularly food choices—and alcohol pose substantial threats to one of your vital organs: the liver.
The survey found that six in 10 respondents have experienced unwanted weight gain. Participants have gained an average of 29 pounds, with half putting on 15. One in four said they had been drinking more to cope with the stress.
If you’ve been drinking more during the pandemic, you are certainly not alone. Whether it’s being fueled by boredom or stress, too much alcohol can be harmful. It really doesn’t matter why you’re drinking it.
Cutting back can help preserve your physical and mental health, yet it can often be difficult to peel back consumption. Here are some ways to scale back pandemic drinking.
- Set a realistic goal: Write down how many drinks you want per week or per day. If you’ve been having three per day, try taking that down to two. Progressive reductions are sustainable and more manageable than going cold turkey.
- Measure drinks: It can be easy to get heavy-handed when pouring. Use a scale or measuring cup, so you know exactly how much you’re getting to keep consumption at controllable limits.
- Do something else: With temperatures warming, it’s a little easier to get outdoors. Go for a walk, sit outside and read, or find other activities that can fill time.
- Avoid triggers: If certain people or activities (virtual) tend to lead you to drink, try laying off them for a while. Alcohol consumption can be associative, so staying away from “drinking” activities is a helpful strategy.
- Seek help: If you’re concerned about drinking or can’t seem to cut back, look for a support group or help from your doctor.
Drinking has become a side effect of the pandemic that puts your mental health, liver health, and well-being at risk. If it is not controlled, it can present a host of long-term health risks.