Quarantini Hangover

Covid life has brought anxiety, stress, cancelled plans, social isolation, and lots of working from home. All the ingredients needed to concoct a growing drinking habit for many people. This article dives into the role that habit, and mindset plays in our approach to alcohol and specific strategies to dial down or put a full stop to the booze.

Well, we made it. As I write this, Thanksgiving leftovers are depleted, the tree is up and decorated the Holiday Season has officially arrived. One thing we can always count on this time of the year is that the festivity dial gets cranked up over the next few weeks as we celebrate with friends and family, and for a high percentage of people in the US that festivity will involve drinking.

With that, I thought it would be timely to talk a little bit about drinking. BAR40 has always had a ’52-week Sober Challenge’ aspect to it so the topic is familiar territory, but the recent increased interest shown by people in taking a break from the over-indulgence in the booze the past months have brought is a sign of the times we live in…and related Covid-drinking fatigue. I realize of course that not everyone drinks but even if this topic isn’t directly applicable to you, perhaps it’s subject matter you will find useful as it relates to someone in your life.

Covid-19 has been life-changing for all of us in every way imaginable (and some unimaginable), and one of the unfortunate trend developments has been the significant uptick in alcohol consumption. For some people, that means the drinking habit they had going into Covid has swelled into a full-grown problem now they do not have the guardrails and structure that their normal 8-5 office routine provided. For other people, it may mean that their once a month glass of wine at dinner has turned into Zoom happy hours 3 times a week and they’ve found that when the Zoom call is over at 6 pm they tend to keep drinking the rest of the night. For others, the change in schedule and not going into their office has meant that instead of having their first drink of the day at 6 pm it has crept up into the afternoon, and now 8 months into this new world order, their drinking is tracking towards the “its noon somewhere” philosophy. Alcohol is an addictive substance, and like any other addictive substance...the more we do it, the more we tend to overdo it.

In a lot of ways, this year has proved to be the perfect cocktail recipe (as it were) for a drinking problem to develop. Ingredient #1 is social isolation, stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental ailments that have been worsened by the 24/7 onslaught of Covid news and worry. Ingredient #2 is a general normalizing of excess drinking and afternoon Quarantini parties rationalized with the reasoning that “hey, it’s the end of the world...bottoms up!”. Finally, add in the fact that many people are now working from home and are operating in an environment without direct interaction with co-workers and managers and have newfound freedom to drink freely without any concerns of ‘getting caught’. “Can’t smell the booze on Zoom, right!?” (That is a direct quote I’ve heard on more than one call). If you find yourself somewhere along the concern spectrum regarding your drinking, then this is the perfect time of year to pause for some honest introspection and corrective action if needed.