HALT! Coping without Alcohol During COVID-19

HALT! Coping without Alcohol During COVID-19

By: Stacy Lloyd, LMHC

 Coping without alcohol during COVID-19 can be done.  Do a quick google search of alcohol sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, and you will find several articles on the increase of alcohol sales. One article reports alcohol sales raising up to 55% in one week, another one reports a 243% raise in online alcohol sales. A recent Business Insider article reported  “Sales of 3-liter boxes of wine rose by 53%, and 24-packs of increased by 24%. Online alcohol sales for that week were also up, 42% year-on-year.”  You can also find many articles exploring if sales of alcohol should be considered essential. Americas increase in alcohol sales is pointing to our need for more effective coping skills, and the discussions regarding alcohol as essential sales are an important step in America’s discussion about alcohols role in our culture. 

Mix COVID-19 and social distancing, with a culture that can romanticize alcohol consumption and it’s clear we need more effective coping skills. HALT, is an acronym for common triggers for relapse: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Addressing these common triggers during COVID-19, can be helpful in preventing relapse for those in recovery, as well as those who are looking to cut down on their alcohol consumption during this time. 

Hungry:

During COVID-19, many of our schedules have been significantly impacted, resulting in not prioritizing healthy meals or mealtimes. For some, social restrictions may be activating trauma responses around food scarcity. Below are some tips for coping with physical and emotional components of hunger without alcohol. 

  • Make sure you are eating 2-3 balanced meals a day
  • Let yourself enjoy your favorite comfort meals
  • Listen to your hunger cues: allow yourself to enjoy snacks
  • Keep a food journal to stay mindful of eating patterns, avoid binge eating
  • If you have binged, be kind to yourself, and don’t restrict later in the day

Angry:

Anger is a secondary emotion, a reaction to other feelings, such as: sadness, fear, frustration, guilt and so on. For some during this time, anger may feel, like a safer way to express difficult feelings such as sadness over a loss of graduation celebration, prom, a baby shower, or even fear of financial instability and job loss. Below are some tips for coping with anger, without alcohol: 

  • Keep a journal to help you identify your warning signs: tense jaw, heavy breathing, pacing, avoidance
  • Get active, go for walk, jog, or try a at home workout from YouTube or other online platform
  • Try breathing exercises like: Alternate Nostril breathing (one my favorites), square breathing, or progressive body relaxation

Lonely:

Social Distancing regulations may have us feeling lonely. We are distanced from our family, friends and co-workers. Some people may be celebrating birthdays alone, and others milestones such as bringing baby home, without the help of grandparents or other loved ones. If you are feeling lonely here are some tips for coping without alcohol: 

  • Utilize Technology
  • AA/NA online intergroup can link you to online 12 step meetings
  • Get creative! I have loved to see the Birthday Parade trend
  • Hand write letters or postcards to people you love
  • Spend time “dating”, reconnecting and getting to yourself again: cook yourself your favorite meal, take bubble bath, create a playlist that represent your favorite memories

Tired:

COVID-19, social distancing, and changes in our day to day routine can result in physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Some people may be having trouble falling asleep or experiencing restless sleep.  If you are feeling tired and worn out here some tips to cope without alcohol: 

  • Remember alcohol impacts your sleep by disrupting the quality of your REM cycle 
  • Have a bedtime routine, and keep it consistent 
  • Reduce decision making fatigue: by delegating to others in your house, and limiting the amount of choices you need to make each day
  • Treat Your Body Well: Eat a balanced diet, drink water, and get active each day
  • Limit screen time before bed

Coping during COVID-19 can be difficult. Here are a few more tips:

  • Establishing a routine, and utilizing coping skills regularly can help to decrease stress, and fatigue
  • Limit news time regarding COVID-19 and increase “Good News” stories
  • Utilize online platforms and other free resources
  • Be kind and gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can

For support throughout this quarantine, reach out to Stacy Lloyd via our website

If you or a loved one is struggling with Coping without Alcohol During COVID-19, we are available to help you: https://www.caringtherapistsofbroward.com/substance-abuse-evaluations/

Stacy Lloyd, LMHC

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