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One of The Best Things You Can Do in the Time of COVID-19 Is Stay Sober

Too much alcohol can weaken the immune system.

The streets are empty, people wear masks, and the news blasts out uncertainty. These are anxious times, and if drinking is your medicine, you’re likely reaching for it.

But before you bulk buy all the boxes of wine you can find at the supermarket, consider this. Research has shown that too much booze:

weakens your immune system and could make you much more vulnerable to viruses, including HIV — New Scientist

And as an article in yesterday’s Metro pointed out:

In spite of feeling like a natural response in the wake of Covid-19, pouring wine down your throat is actually more unhelpful than ever as a coping mechanism.

Coronavirus is more of a concern for those with underlying health complications and weakened immune systems. So doing what we can to keep our immune system strong becomes increasingly important.

Not drinking is a positive, proactive step you can take in these unsettled times. Staying sober is one of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy immune system.

A healthy diet with lots of leafy greens and berries, regular exercise, and prioritizing sleep is crucial, as is trying to keep stress levels down.

By steering clear of liquor you will give your body the best chance of fending off this virus, should you catch it. And in the meantime, you can be designated driver, if anyone needs supplies too.

The research has been in for a long time: alcohol is bad for our mental health.

“The reason we drink and the consequences of excessive drinking are linked with our mental health. Mental health problems not only result from drinking too much alcohol, they can also cause people to drink too much.” — Mental Health Foundation

If you tend towards anxiety, then beer can easily become a crutch. It is highly successful at quickly changing the way you feel, if only for a short time. Alcohol is widely used for precisely this reason. However, as many of us know only too well, self-medicating is a terrible strategy long term.

Anxiety returns with extra power to haunt you in the morning. Worse still, booze is so effective at putting a plaster on top of emotional wounds, that you might never find the healing you need. And if you are unsure how to manage your stress levels without booze, you aren’t alone. The supermarket shelves are strikingly bare where the cheapest alcohol usually sits.

People are stocking up this necessity as they prepare to self-isolate and social distance for the foreseeable future. If I was still a drinker, I would certainly be self-soothing with booze. When life feels precarious, it is natural to seek relief.

But it’s no longer an option. I was forced, through my own pain and stubbornness, into learning healthier techniques. And now it’s my job to share them with you.

In sobriety, I’ve leaned on many different things to help with my anxiety, and right now, I need them more than ever. Meditation, spirituality and altruism have all helped me at different times.

More than anything else, currently, I am relying on community. Talking honestly with kind people. Friendship.

If you are stressed out and struggling to stay sober, ask for help. Tell the people closest to you. Take one small positive action.

As you probably know, deep down, booze won’t help anything. And especially not if you have developed an unhealthy dependence. Sure, you get a break from the worry, but then you have to deal with a hangover.

As the Metro stated yesterday:

“Your best bet is to cut back on the booze until the worst of this is over.”

If not drinking seems difficult or impossible, please seek out support.

There are organizations that exist solely to help people who want/need/have to stop drinking. Feel free to email me, and I will point you in the right direction.

This is a harder time than ever to try and get sober, but you will find what you need if you look. It is not the time to go it alone. There’s no shame in getting addicted to something deeply addictive.

AA and Smart meetings around the world are using technologies like Zoom to allow groups of people to continue to meet up and share strength, in spite of social distancing.

Because, now more than ever, we need to come together to tell stories and offer solidarity. No matter how stark or founded our fears, we still need to connect.

If you need help to stop drinking, you’re not alone.

If you’re ready to try something different, try my alcohol experiment. Do whatever it takes to stay sober for 30 days: go to your doctor, try Smart or AA or Hip Sobriety or Soberistas. Read beautiful hangover. Listen to Recovery Elevator and SHAIR podcasts. Read This Naked Mind. Try Moderation Management.

Sign up for more from me at beautifulhangover <3

*I write as a person now sober, who used to drink too much. Please seek medical advice before you quit, especially if you are a daily drinker.

Chelsey Flood is the author of award-winning novels Infinite Sky and Nightwanderers, a lecturer in creative writing and a dedicated truth-seeker. She writes about freedom, addiction, nature and love.

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