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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice, including help if you are struggling financially

Managing your alcohol intake and smoking support

Managing your alcohol intake

When the line between work and home is blurred and we're spending more time at home, it can lead to an increase in alcohol intake. Maybe an extra drink in the evening? No longer worrying about it being a ‘school night’? It’s easy to find any reason to have an alcoholic drink, whether a treat, through boredom, stress or just because!

We mustn’t forget though, there are many negative effects that alcohol has on our body, such as:

  • weight gain
  • poor quality sleep
  • increasing risk of heart problems

More importantly at this time, it can reduce your immunity. There are also effects on our mental health too; alcohol is a depressant and can lead to:

  • apathy
  • lack of energy
  • low mood

Isolation can lead to these anyway; alcohol will make it more profound.

The UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines recommend it’s safest for both men and women to not regularly drink more than 14 units each week. That’s equivalent to:

  • 6 pints of average strength lager (4% ABV
  • or 6 medium glasses of wine (175ml, 12% ABV)

The advice is to spread your units out over the week and take several alcohol-free days. That’s manageable, right?!

There are some great resources and tools to help you reduce your alcohol intake, such as Drinkaware and LiveWell Dorset. Here are a few suggestions that you can try: 

  • monitor what you drink: a good place to start is to monitor how much you're drinking now. Take a look at the 7 day unit calculator or download the free Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units app to track your drinking over time
  • home measures: how many of us have poured a ‘single’ measure at home, telling ourselves it’s the same as if we were to go out? We all know our home single measures are a lot different to single measures elsewhere! Take the guesswork out of pouring drinks by getting yourself an alcohol measuring cup and pour more accurately. Why not order a unit measuring cup?
  • go small: trends in wine glasses can make it hard to judge what’s small, medium or large. An easy way of cutting down is to buy small (125ml) wine glasses for the house, rather than large 250ml ones, and half pint glasses for drinking beer or lager
  • alcohol-free days: it’s important for good health to have alcohol-free days. It’s helpful to decide which days of the week you aren’t going to drink on (and stick to it!). If you find yourself thinking about a drink, try to keep yourself busy and distract yourself. The desire may pass…
  • try something new: no or low alcohol drinks are growing in popularity and variety. On your next trip to the supermarket, perhaps think about picking up a different no or low alcohol alternative?
  • choose the time you drink: perhaps just enjoy a drink with your main meal only. Start drinking later in the evening, so if you usually like to have something like something before you eat, try swapping it for something non-alcoholic that still feels like a treat. Once you open a bottle of wine for dinner, for instance, try to keep the bottle off the table. Just pour a glass and put it away
  • talk about it! If you live with someone, you may tend to share drinking habits, being social. It can be difficult if one in the household wants to cut down, but others don’t. Make them aware if you want to reduce your alcohol intake and how you plan to do it. Hopefully they will join you to support you. You can’t make people change if they don’t want to, so be strong and commit to your own plan
  • seek support: how can others help you reduce your drinking? It may be that you turn down your favourite tipple, ask those in your house to not offer you a drink before dinner or to not keep asking if you want a drink. LiveWell Dorset also have wellness coaches on hand to support you with reducing your alcohol intake so contact them for extra support

Smoking support

Smokers have a greater risk of respiratory tract infections and smoking can affect the immune system. This means that though there aren’t necessarily at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus, if they were to, they may be at a greater risk of the infection lasting longer. Also, the action of smoking means people who smoke may be more vulnerable, by touching their face and mouth more often.

As such, it may be work those who want to reduce the risk of serious lung infection caused by coronavirus by reducing or quitting smoking. If you have been thinking about trying to, now might be the time to try!

It’s important to remember that stopping smoking has many other health benefits, even beyond a link with the coronavirus, so it’s always a good time to quit. If you would like to think about quitting, but need a bit more support, try out these services:

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