Looking after small kids is a howling shit-storm at the best of times. Right now though we’re living through some of the worst with COVID forcing us to contend with a host of extra financial, social and domestic problems.
So it’s hardly a surprise that a new study shows that more than one in four (29%) parents have started drinking more since lockdown. The data from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) study found that millennial parents are the most likely to be drinking more (35%), followed by Gen X parents (28%).
Parents of 9-12 year olds were found to be drinking the most, with one in 10 saying they were drinking “a lot more” following the introduction of coronavirus restrictions.
Polling over 1000 Australian parents, the study revealed that 38% mentioned higher levels of stress and anxiety as the reason for their increased alcohol intake, with one in four parents specifically pinpointing the challenges of home-schooling.
On the back of this, the ADF has launched a campaign: ‘You haven’t been drinking alone’ to draw attention to some of the potential issues, particularly around kids witnessing their parents’ habitual boozing.
“While many parents have been using alcohol as a coping mechanism, it is important to understand that exposure to regular or excessive drinking can influence children’s attitudes and future behaviours around alcohol, alongside increasing the parent’s risk of accidents, injuries, dependence and diseases like cancer,” said Dr Erin Lalor, CEO of the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.
Which is all very well. But what’s the best way forward when you know that you probably should drink a bit less, yet are stuck in the habit of having a few drinks to take the edge off another stressful day.
Georgia Foster is a world-renowned hypnotist and the bestselling author of The Drink Less Mind and Drink Less In Seven Days. Most significantly for you though she’s also the mother of triplets(!) so has first-hand understanding of the daily shit-fight that is your life. Here are her top tips to drink less.
Keep an emotional drink diary for a week
Each time you feel a pang for a drink write down what you are feeling. Are you bored, tired or just feel the alcohol will stop your busy brain? Does alcohol make you feel happier, safe, funny, sexy or witty? Understanding these triggers will help you see the pattern of thinking before the drinking, which is the issue. These emotions are key to knowing why you drink too much. It is to either extinguish negative emotions or heighten self-confidence.
Keep a glass of water next to your alcoholic drink, so you can take a sip of water between sips of whatever you are drinking. It will hydrate you and your liver will thank you too! I call it Drink One, Water One.
The Inner Critic
It has been proven that talking internally in negative ways ignites anxiety and unhelpful fears about life and the future. Alcohol suppresses this hurtful state, which is why so many people drink too much and drink too quickly. Whenever your mind creates a negative statement such as ‘you were terrible in that meeting today’ or ‘you’re not as clever as others’ or ‘I bet you’re going to drink too much tonight’ remember this is a negative voice that is not based on truth. It is just a negative mind habit that will never be supportive and kind. When you hear yourself say something unkind, say STOP in your mind, breathe it out and then say an opposite statement such as ‘It is safe to drink alcohol slowly’ while imagining yourself sipping rather than gulping. Keep repeating this each time you hear something negative.
Liar Liar Pants on Fire
Sad but true there may be some family or friends who don’t want you to drink less. Remember, you need to look after you! Keep yourself protected, so you can achieve your goal of drinking less without anyone knowing. So, when you are with them feign illness, or that you are taking antibiotics or have a big meeting the next day. Or even better, that you have a cracking hangover and couldn’t fathom a drink!
Alcohol Free Days
A few alcohol free days a week are what doctors recommend but don’t make these evenings boring by planning your tax return or cleaning out your wardrobe. Make them fun by watching a funny movie or sit down and read that book you’ve promised yourself you will get stuck into. Decide the day you are not going to drink is a day when you can start to enjoy taking time out, so you can get to know yourself without alcohol in your blood stream.
Breaking The State
Try this basic self-hypnosis trick: if the beer or wine bell is ringing in your head and you know it is not time to drink nor appropriate to drink, sing baa baa black sheep silently to yourself while looking up at the ceiling for 1 minute. At the same time tap two fingers on the back of your thumb knuckle. This will distract your mind and take you to a calmer and more logical space.
The Alcohol Police
If you have a partner or family member who is critical of your drinking, this can often lead to sneaky and quick anxious drinking because you feel observed. The truth is non-drinkers don’t understand the desire to drink, so don’t over discuss your concerns you have. Know your over-drinking is driven by fears and anxieties that need to be dealt with another way. Seek some professional help with a therapist who you can disclose your deepest thoughts to.
Many drinkers who are not very good communicators use alcohol to discuss difficult topics that really should be discussed while sober. In particular important moments that need to be aired without the influence of alcohol. Don’t wait for booze to kick in before these moments. Discussing things with a cup of tea in your hand means your audience can’t blame the alcohol but rather have to take you seriously and that you mean business. Remember what you have to say is important and your voice deserves to be heard sober!
Socially Shy Drinkers
Many drinkers have a social anxiety and use alcohol as a way to calm their nerves. A really good way to change this thinking is to take a few minutes a day before the event and imagine yourself entering the room feeling calm and confident. Imagine yourself talking to people with ease while sipping a drink really slowly. Play a positive song at the same time that makes you feel safe and happy. The endorphins will kick in and your mind will be distracted away from self doubt. Rehearse this a few times somewhere you can be in your own space. The more you practice this, the more your mind will become familiar with this routine before the function you are going to. Practice this routine to empower you to drink in healthier ways generally, so your regular drinking is less.
For more information on Georgia Foster and to purchase Drink Less in 7 Days, visit: www.georgiafoster.com