Coming out of the past two years, it seems that many people are drinking more and have developed a habit of regular “normal” drinking even if it’s only one glass a night. I’ve been reflecting on some of the statistics I’ve read around people drinking more now than pre-COVID, as well as the increase in the number of alcohol-related deaths especially in women and wondering what has led to this.
Grief has been prevalent over the past few years and so many of us have grieved in some way. There has, for many, been the tragic unexpected shock of losing loved ones but many have also lost jobs, businesses, homes, relationships and what they have always known has been taken from them. Nobody would have ever believed we would be told to stay at home for extended periods of time and not be able to go about are normal lives prior to this. All this, for many of us has led to coping with some sort of grief.
So, when you think about it, no wonder people have turned to alcohol. It has helped numb out the pain and emotions being felt and people have believed they are coping. I can certainly understand this, as when my brother passed away suddenly from an illness at 22 years old when I was 28, my coping mechanism was to have a G&T or a glass of red to numb out the pain, get me through and manage to put one foot in front of the other, as I tried to organise and look after everyone.
As a result, I question how many people over the past two years are now coming out of this season and realising their drinking has ramped up and this has been due to some sort of grief. Are you walking around with a foggy head, in a bit of a daze, not fully present? Have you been able to fully process what has happened? Has alcohol become a crutch that is potentially stopping you from thriving and although you are nowhere near rock bottom and fully functioning, you are questioning your relationship with alcohol? Is there another way?
One of the things I’ve learnt since becoming alcohol free 18 months ago, other than the important fact that alcohol is a depressant, is the importance of self-care. Prior to this, I thought self-care was rewarding yourself with a glass of fizz or going to a spa for a day, however, it is so much more and provides you with tools that help you cope when life happens.
I have a list of 21 self-care activities that I can use as part of my alcohol free toolkit and now have no need to turn to alcohol, even when life happens, which has been so positive in my life. Ten of the things on my list include: writing five things I’m grateful for every day; running; listening to podcasts; taking photos; building my faith; reading; getting out in nature; baking; yoga and keeping a journal. I have also learnt to sit with my emotions and process how I am feeling, which I never did before.
I remember early on in my alcohol-free journey, I had some unexpected news at work. This was another moment of grief for me, as I realised that I needed to leave the company I’d worked so hard at for over 8 years. I’d thought I would continue to build my career there but clearly my value was not appreciated, I was in the wrong place and it was time to move on. In the past I would have grabbed a glass of wine, talked about how upset I was, put the world to rights and threaten to leave but the next day the motivation would be gone, I’d just let it go and not doing anything about it.
This time was different. There was a real clarity that I needed to move on and for the first time in a long time, I was open to backing myself, having conversations and looking at other opportunities. This led me to sign up and complete an Accredited Diploma in Transformational Coaching, which I also found immensely helpful for my own personal growth. My mission now is to use what I’ve learnt to help people thrive, reach your full potential alcohol free. I also had unexpected opportunities present themselves and nine months after ditching the booze, I started my dream job. I do believe being alcohol free is a superpower and it certainly makes you brave.
I know many people use alcohol to numb out when life gets hard but with what I know now, there is certainly a better way. Becoming alcohol free and learning what tools work for you from a self-care perspective helps you to live a life where you are fully present, have clarity and can deal with your emotions.
Grief comes to us all but it’s how we manage it and how long we allow it to take over our lives. It is certainly harder with alcohol, even though society would say differently.
If you are struggling with grief or a loss of some sort and think you are drinking more than you would like, feel free to get in touch.