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Ask Dru Live: I work on the Covid frontline and alcohol helps me with the stress

By Posted in Health

We were recently live on Facebook, tackling the dilemmas presented by members of Club Soda’s Facebook groups. One person asked how she could begin to deal with her drinking when she was working in healthcare, on the Covid frontline? Watch the video or read the edited transcript below.

Q

I work on the frontline and alcohol helps me cope with stress at this time. Every morning I say I’m not going to drink, but every evening I go back to it. I How can I stop when I am in the thick of it all the time and everything is so stressful?

A

Can I start by saying thank you for doing what you’re doing right now? I’ve got a nephew who’s a doctor and his fiancée is a midwife. They’re on the front line up in the northwest of England, doing an incredible job. So thank you for what you’re doing right now in the healthcare system. It’s making a huge difference to lots of people.

Marking moments of transition

There is a moment in our days, whether you’re on working at the Covid frontline, or you’re like me, basically answering emails, where you want to say “OK, my working day is over. And now I want to focus and get some me-time.”

That’s a really important transition point for all of us. For those of us who do work at home, for example, our working day to drift into the evening. So there’s a moment in the day that you are going to want to mark and take care of. And I guess the question I’d be asking myself is “What are the other ways that I can attain a feeling of relaxation at that moment in the day?”

And that’s going to be different for all sorts of people. It might be running yourself a bath, or lighting a scented candle, or doing an online yoga class, or going for a walk, or sitting outside and staring at the stars, or listening to a podcast. There are a billion things that it might be. But basically, you want to build up a bank of ideas of ways to relax.

And actually what you’re doing in that is you’re giving yourself choices. So you’re saying to yourself, this moment in the day is an important thing, and the feeling of relaxation is an important thing. But what are the other ways that I can achieve it, other than having a drink of alcohol?

Alcohol has been a brilliant shortcut for you for relaxation. But there are other ways that you can achieve that feeling. So I would just encourage you to think as broadly as you can about all of the different routes that you’ve got to relaxation. And then try them and experiment and see what works for you.

Giving yourself choices

One thing we know about changing drinking is that you can’t just say, “I’m not going to drink today.” You have to know what you’re going to do in that moment of transition.

Let’s not forget that alcohol is doing something for you. It is having a real physical effect. It is relaxing you. It is a depressant on your nervous system. It is inducing feelings of euphoria. It has a chemical effect on your body. But there is nothing – literally nothing – that alcohol can do for you that you cannot achieve in another way, alcohol-free.

So think about all of the complexity of that moment of transition:

Then, start to think about the other ways that you can get those feelings. Whether you’re working on the Covid frontline, or in a desk job, or on furlough, or whatever you do, you have the right to feel those feelings. And whether you’re somebody who is going alcohol-free or somebody who is going to moderate, all of this is just about giving you better choices.

We don’t have to go to alcohol to feel the feelings which are rightly ours. We all can get them in more healthful ways which support our wellbeing.

Cheers

Dru signature

Dru Jaeger is the author of How to Be a Mindful Drinker, and developed Club Soda’s courses for people who want to cut down or stop drinking. If you’ve got a question, Ask Dru.

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