Wow, what a year it’s been. Here we are heading to the end of 2020, back in lockdown. To say it’s been a stressful and challenging time is the understatement of the century. Is it any wonder that so many of us look forward to a glass of wine, or a cold beer at the end of a hard day home working? Of course, it’s understandable, but since it’s Alcohol Awareness week from the 16th – 20th November and with the festive season looming, we thought it was a good time to dig a bit deeper and think about what’s happening with our alcohol consumption! And of course at Lime we are always interested in helping people stay as healthy as possible, so we’ve also got a few tips on how to keep your alcohol consumption in check! Here are five things we found out:
1. People tend to drink more in lockdown. Of course this isn’t universal, but a survey commissioned towards the end of the first lockdown by Alcohol Change UK and the Alcohol Health Alliance showed that more than a quarter (28%) of people asked said that they had drunk more than usual during lockdown. Not only that but people have been drinking more often –although the amount they drink each day had remained about the same. Perhaps it’s not surprising that many people (1 in 5) said that they drink as a way to manage stress or anxiety – particularly parents. Almost a third of parents of under-18s (30%) said that they had done so. Home schooling anyone?
2. Alcohol is not good for you. Yeah, yeah we know, you know! No one drinks a glass of pinot grigio expecting it to be a health tonic, but it’s surprising the many ways that alcohol can affect us beyond the horrors of a hangover. For example, did you know that drinking can affect your fertility? Or that it can lead to low mood and anxiety? Yep, all those people drinking to help their anxiety might actually be making it worse. Alcohol disrupts the balance of chemicals and processes in your brain, which means that you might feel great after just one or two drinks but as your body processes the alcohol these effects wear off and you start to experience withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety. And that’s on top of the fact that alcohol can increase your risk of at least seven types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, pancreatitis and of course good old fashioned hurting yourself if you fall over when drunk!
3. What is “too much” alcohol? The current NHS guidelines recommend that none of us drink more than 14units a week on a regular basis. Units should be spread over a week, with several drink-free days each week. How much is 14 units? It’s 14 single measure G&Ts, or 7 cans of beer or just under 7 medium (175ml) glasses of 12% wine. If you regularly drink more than this, if you often drink a lot in one session or if you are worried about your drinking for any reason, it might be worth cutting down and / or getting some support.
4. How do I cut down? One of the easiest things to do is to earmark certain days in the week as alcohol free. This can help give you willpower because you’ve planned in advance not to drink, plus it gives your body a break, and also means that you’re drinking less over the course of a week. When you do drink, you can also try using smaller glasses for wine and beer, or using just a small amount of spirit and upping the amount of mixer you use.
5. But, Christmas! It has been a long slog to get to the end of the year, and although we still don’t know what Christmas will be like this year no doubt many of us will want to pop Champagne corks as we wave goodbye to 2020. Well, festive fizz doesn’t have to mean alcohol. How about mixing it up with the odd mocktail? There are lots of options in the supermarkets as the “No Lo” (no / low alcohol) trend continues, or you could make your own, you can even get the kids involved. And here, just for you, as an early present, are three of our very own festive Lime mocktail recipes. So grab your little paper umbrellas, the plastic flamingo stirrers and crazy straws and get shaking. Cheers!
N.B. If you are affected by any of the issues discussed in this blog post and are concerned about either your own or a loved one’s drinking, please seek help. The NHS alcohol support website has good information as well as useful links to organisations that can help: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/