While necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), such restrictions impact how we spend our leisure time—those important moments when we take a break from work or other responsibilities. Celebrations, family dinners, recreational sports—all the ways in which we usually relax and connect with friends and loved ones—have been postponed.
Social media is abuzz with resources on how to cope with this “new normal,” from top tips for working from home to best self-care strategies and 20-minute home workouts. Still, these periods of physical distancing can be jarring and isolating, particularly during parts of the day that we would normally spend with our social networks.
The stress and isolation resulting from COVID-19 are no exception. According to Nielsen, a market research firm, U.S. alcohol sales increased by 55% in the week ending on March 21, as more states implement stay-at-home orders or similar policies. These data are concerning as we remain in a period of considerable uncertainty.
Over time, increased alcohol consumption may lead to health problems such as reduced immune system function, high blood pressure, poorer mental health, and alcohol use disorder. Since alcohol consumption impacts our judgment and critical thinking skills, excessive drinking is also associated with an increased risk for unintentional injury and other harmful behaviors.
So, what can you do to avoid excessive drinking while managing the stress of COVID-19? We at Shatterproof wanted to provide you with some alternatives for how to decompress without alcohol.
Our body is prone to tensing up during periods of prolonged stress. A simple routine of stretching, particularly when you wake up or before you go to bed, helps relieve some of the tension you carry throughout the day. The internet offers a variety of stretches you can incorporate into your routine—check out this set of stretches aimed at reducing the tension we carry throughout our bodies.
Spending time outside provides amazing health benefits, particularly during physical distancing when we are more frequently indoors. If possible, schedule some time each day to take a walk in your neighborhood. This simple exercise will give your mind some time to relax while providing you with fresh air and exercise. If walks aren’t possible in your immediate environment, try opening your windows and spending your time in well-lit, sunny spaces.
Whether you have an extensive collection of board games, a puzzle you’ve been putting off, or even just a deck of cards, game nights are a great way to relax at the end the day. If you’re feeling creative, you could test the knowledge of your friends and family by organizing a virtual trivia night—you could even make it themed!
This is a great time to try meditating if you do not have a regular practice. Meditation can be used to promote relaxation, improve mental health, and enhance overall well-being. Various apps, such as Headspace and 10% Happier, are offering free resources to support people through COVID-19. For beginners, we suggest blocking off 10–30 minutes of meditation a few days each week.
Looking for ways to still participate in virtual happy hours without drinking alcohol? What better time than now to learn how to make “mocktails”! Our staff have provided some of our favorite recipes below:
This is a challenging time. While all of us are doing our best to adjust to a “new normal,” we wanted to remind you that it’s okay to feel stressed and out-of-sorts. We encourage you to set aside dedicated time each day to incorporate some of these activities and prioritize your well-being. Let us know if you have any additional suggestions!
Shannon Biello is the Program Manager for Shatterproof’s National Treatment Quality Initiatives.