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  • Writer's pictureLauren Booker

10 reasons to reduce your drinking during lockdown

1. Your immune system

It may be great in hand-gels, but drinking alcohol is not going to protect you from infection. In fact, there’s a good deal of research out there to suggest that the more you drink the more it’s likely to lower your immune response[1]. And don’t kid yourself that a pint of cloudy cider or glass of pinot counts as one of your five a day.

2. Better sleep

Have you found yourself checking your phone at 3am to see what’s changed in Covid World? Still tossing and turning at 4am? If you’re not going to work the next day, you can have a lie-in, right? Maybe not. Alcohol affects your sleep pattern, in particular your REM sleep, which is the most nourishing part of your nightly rest. Simply put, less booze equals better quality sleep.

3. Working from home

Ever heard that alcohol can increase your motivation? No? Well there’s a good reason for that. It’s hard enough to concentrate on work in these strange times without feeling a bit rough from the night before or hitting the snooze button several times before heading off to work in the spare room. And if you’re still going out to your workplace, all the more reason to have a clear head when you set off.

4. Kids + hangover = bad day

Home schooling – whoever thought that was a good idea? Even the most organised among us will have to admit that, as someone wise once said, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy”. After a couple of weeks of trying to implement an age appropriate, child-focused learning timetable only to find that it’s chaos by lunchtime, you might think that a drink is a good idea. Now imagine that scenario with a killer hangover. See what I mean?

5. Its easy to overdo it

With normal rules out of the window, not drinking before the sun is over the yardarm seems a bit pointless. Before you know it, you’re stashing bottles of wine under the bed so you can get started before the hangover kicks in. Well, that may be an exaggeration but drinking more or more frequently or just drinking when you normally wouldn’t, are signs that you need to take stock and maybe make some changes.

6. Alcohol increases anxiety

Alcohol crosses the blood-brain barrier and affects the way that neurotransmitters work, especially the production of serotonin – often known as the ‘happy chemical’. When alcohol wears off, the fear sets in. If this sounds familiar, you might benefit from finding other activities that make you feel good, without the brain-dampening downsides.

7. Getting grumpy

Along with anxiety, drinking can leave us feeling flat, unmotivated and just downright miserable. Enter the temptation to drink again to alleviate the grumpiness. Which is exactly how vicious cycles get started.

8. Concentration

Did you, like me, think that lockdown might offer the consolation of increased productivity, getting through your to-do list at lightening-speed and still having time to read the classics? If so, maybe (also like me) you’re finding that you can’t concentrate, and the days are just packed without actually accomplishing much. Drinking will not improve this. In fact, it can impact on your executive functions such decision making, prioritising and sustained focus.

9. Creating a habit that you can’t sustain

It may not feel like it, but these crazy times will end and when they do, we will all have to adjust to a new normal. The post Covid-19 world will be different, we just don’t know how different yet. By maintaining healthy habits, including keeping your drinking within sensible limits, you’ll be in the best possible position to bounce back when the shutters finally come back up. Developing a bottle-of-wine-a-day habit now will make it harder to return to occasional drinking once this is all over.

10. Your body will thank you

Ever feel like going for a run after a heavy session? Thought not. Getting your daily exercise is hard enough without the motivational millstone that is alcohol luring you to have another drink. After all, that nice long walk you promised yourself for today will wait until tomorrow. Alcohol is full of empty calories so with less movement and more comfort eating (not just me?) piling on the pounds is a definite possibility. Take a few days off from drinking – you’ll feel more energised, I promise.

[1] Sadikot, R. T., Bedi, B., Li, J. and Yeligar, S. M. (2019) Alcohol-induced mitochondrial DNA damage promotes injurious crosstalk between alveolar epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages. Alcohol, Vol 80, pp. 65 - 72

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