Tips for Managing Your Relationship with Alcohol While Social Distancing

If you’re struggling to control your drinking while social distancing, you are not alone.

Recent reports show that online alcohol sales were up 243% at the end of March, suggesting that drinking as a coping mechanism is on the upswing.

From job insecurity and working from home to the pressure of “being productive” and processing the complex emotions that come along with this time of uncertainty, adjusting to this new normal can be (understandably) overwhelming. The temptation to rely on or revert to unhealthy habits might also be stronger than usual which is why it’s more important than ever to lean into your online alcohol treatment.

But here’s the thing: you can get through this without drinking.

As a licensed therapist, here are some of the most common questions I’m asked about how to control your drinking through quarantine, and some tools you can start using today.

1. What is your advice for someone struggling to control their alcohol consumption during isolation?

  • Coming up with a daily routine is key. When we’re feeling out of our element and have a lot of free time, our minds can begin to wander into unhealthy zones. Having a schedule gives you something to follow and keeps you on track with your goals.
  • Start by practicing good sleep hygiene. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day has a tremendously positive effect on energy level and mood throughout the day.
  • Make sure you’re having regular meals, too. Similar to being “hangry,” hunger can mimic the feeling of alcohol cravings or even alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Drink plenty of water. Something as simple as hydration enhances not only physical wellbeing but mental health as well.
  • Create a list of people on your ‘support team.’ Jot down the best way to reach out to each of them. Having a physical list is important because when we’re struggling, unfortunately our brains do not default to healthy coping skills. Having those names on an easy-to-find list eliminates that hurdle when we’re experiencing heightened stress — and makes it all the more likely it will be utilized.
  • Get outside! Feeling grounded in nature, getting a breath of fresh air, and putting your bare feet on the grass are all great ways to boost your mood.

2. What are some helpful ways to reduce the anxiety and stress that people are experiencing at this time?

  • Discover or rediscover hobbies. Repetitive activities like coloring, jogging, or gardening can be especially helpful in calming anxiety.
  • Exercise. Thirty minutes of movement has been shown to lower anxiety and stress, while releasing the body’s feel-good endorphins. A quick walk around your neighborhood, an online HIIT class, or a solo dance party in your living room — whatever gets your heart rate up and feels good to you.

3. What’s your advice on staying connected when feeling alone, anxious, or bored?

  • Reach out to your list of supporters! People may not realize you’re struggling unless you tell them, so it’s your responsibility to make the effort. This is especially true now that others can’t gauge your emotional state because they’re not seeing you face-to-face.
  • Create virtual connections. Play games with your friends or online players to pass the time and build a feeling of togetherness.
  • Join the community at MonumentOur community is a great place to find, connect with, and learn from others who might be facing similar challenges.

4. How can someone participate in virtual happy hours without feeling obligated to drink?

The first thing to know is that if you don’t feel comfortable, you aren’t obligated to attend, and it is 100% OK not to go. When possible, suggest alternatives like a virtual game night or shared online class, so that you can connect with others in a way that feels right for you. If you do feel comfortable, prepare your own beverage (e.g. soda, water or tea) ahead of time to keep you grounded and your hands occupied. This is also a great tool for when in-person meetings and hangouts resume.

If you have any other questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also find me responding to comments and posting in the Monument Community.

Remember, this is a traumatic time for many people. If you’re managing your ordinary routine, you are doing enough. We can get through this together.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

About the Author

Holli F.Holli is a licensed mental health counselor/licensed professional counselor in the state of NY and NJ with over 14 years of experience working in the field. She is passionate about helping others achieve their goals, and creating a safe place for that to be done. Her therapeutic approach is unique to you and your needs, often utilizing a mixture of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness and acceptance.