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#Drinknormal during the ‘new normal’

14th Apr 2020 by Matt Claridge

It’s the ‘new normal’. The alert sounds at the end of another day of lockdown – it’s ‘happy hour’. You jump on to your favourite face-to-face app and join your friends. But for some reason ‘happy hour’ is getting earlier than usual, the one or two drinks has turned into four or five and you haven’t had a night off alcohol since this lockdown began. Sound familiar?

The COVID-19 lockdown has created a tough time for many of us as we stay home and do what we’re told, giving up the regular freedoms we take for granted. There are increased levels of stress and anxiety caused by the pressures of self-isolation, job losses, business closures, or even just being with family for such a long period of time – and many of us are drinking more than usual.

But as parents – and the biggest influencer on their children’s relationship with alcohol – it’s more important than ever to role model positive drinking behaviour, rather than falling into bad habits during lockdown.

As we enter week three, we’re asking Kiwis to #drinknormal in the face of the ‘new normal’. A drink now and then is fine, but it’s important – especially during this lockdown period – that you stick to your usual drinking habits and think about why and how you’re drinking alcohol in front of your kids.

Children form their attitudes and relationships to alcohol from their parents – if a parent regularly reaches for the bottle as stress relief – or indulges in a few more drinks than they should – their child is likely to develop a similar relationship to alcohol.

Research tells us that we change our drinking personality when under stress and drink to escape. The reality is, alcohol won’t change the situation. It affects your mental health, your sleep and anxiety – and can make you feel worse.

So here are three things you can do to back up on the booze. Stick to the Ministry of Health’s low risk drinking guidelines – that’s three drinks for men and two for women a day with two days off drinking each week. Don’t start too early in the evening – if you’re socialising with friends online, take a day off and make an alcohol-free drink alternative for happy hour. And find other ways to relax – read a book, go for a walk, play a game with your kids or watch a movie.  

It’s not easy and it’s a long haul. But if we work together to keep things as normal as we can in this ‘new normal’, we’ll be in a healthier place moving forward.