Should you be counting your drinks?

With staying in the new going out, and more time at home with less to do, you might find yourself reaching for a glass of wine or G & T a little more frequently.

Coronavirus has thrown our normal drinking habits out the window – and it’s very easy to fall back on the old adage: it’s always happy hour somewhere in the world, right?

Staying in can make it more tempting to celebrate the little things with a drink. If you find yourself pouring a drink with a midweek dinner, or during a video call with family members to celebrate staying sane through another day, here are some tips that could help.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now called alcohol an “unhelpful coping strategy” in relation to coronavirus-induced anxiety and isolation. Meanwhile, most states and territories have stamped bottle shops as ‘essential businesses’, so the information can certainly be confusing and, at times, conflicting.

However, the temptation (and freedom) to top up far more often can mean an increased risk of putting your health in danger, when right now, staying in and staying well has never been so important.

The Australian government Department of Health suggests that healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day.

A standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol, but many beverages contain more than one standard drink. Check the label on the bottle or container to see exactly how many standard drinks it contains. With things such as wine and spirits, you will need to measure the drink to accurately calculate how many standard drinks you are about to consume.

Ten standard drinks are equal to seven 375ml full-strength beers with 4.8 per cent alcohol content, or one 750ml bottle, plus two standard serves (100ml each) of red wine at 13.5 per cent alcohol content.

According to the Department of Health, drinking more than this can be damaging to your health, and this applies to men and women.

If you do drink the full 10 units a week, it’s suggested that they are spread evenly over three days or more, and if you’re trying to cut down, a good way to achieve this is to have several alcohol-free days a week.

Here are a few ways to drink responsibly, despite coronavirus …

1. Decide the days you’ll have a drink in advance
Keeping a diary and writing down what you’re drinking each day can really help. It can even be fun to plan what you’re going to drink and when. Think Wednesday sauvignon blanc night, Saturday merlot night, and try exploring wines from different regions that you might not normally consider. Think about the aromas and flavours, and you’ll appreciate that glass even more.

2. Try to make it a special occasion
With the trend for ‘drinking less but drinking better,’ think about sharing that special bottle you’ve been saving, serving it in your best wine glass (so you want to savour it), and pairing it with a favourite dish.

Otherwise, make it a Friday date night. With a drink and a movie, and if you’re self-isolating, plan those ‘dry days’ beforehand, so you’re looking your best for your next video catch up.

3. Out of sight, out of mind
If you can’t see it, chances are you won’t touch it. So, as much as we love a glamorous cocktail trolley, full wine rack and fridge full of beer, try to keep your booze under wraps. Wheel the trolley out of the way, place a cloth over the wine and don’t put the beer in the fridge until the right time comes, that way you won’t be so tempted to crack open a tinnie.

This goes for buying it, too, don’t be tempted to stock up on bottles and bottles of alcohol in case you can’t get to the bottle shop later. There’s always the option for delivery or asking a friend or relative to drop some off when they are passing.

4. Find other ways to de-stress
These are unprecedented times, so if you’re feeling anxious or stressed, it’s only natural. Instead of reaching for a drink, weigh up other little luxuries to indulge in at home.

Maybe try a mini spa treatment such as a face mask, long hot bath, or sitting down with a good book. If that’s not your thing, a spot of spring cleaning can be extremely therapeutic, as can stretching exercises, calling a friend, or something as simple as sticking your head out the window and breathing in the fresh air.

5. Think low and no alcohol
If you really can’t bear to part with your precious glass of vino at the end of the day, consider switching styles. The average glass of white or fizz contains around 11-13.5 per cent alcohol, while a German riesling comes in at a light, but deliciously fruity and refreshing 8.5-9.5 per cent. Alternatively, make room for mindful drinking; low-and-no alcoholic spirits, beer or try a new mocktail recipe.

Have you found your alcohol intake has increased in recent weeks? Will you try to cut back as we settle into the ‘new normal’?

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