We’re all looking forward to the Spring of 2021 – but please stay healthy and safe and don’t let it hammer your health!
With our partners at Fresh we’re encouraging people to avoid potential the pitfalls of more regular drinking or smoking which can weaken the immune system and harm physical and mental health.
We’re all aware of the huge pressures the Covid pandemic has put us all under, and while 2020 saw some people cutting down on alcohol, the same pressures led to over 8m people drinking at risky levels in 2020.
The fact is that drinking doesn’t always make us feel better. A survey by Balance last Autumn found that nearly HALF (44%) of drinkers who were drinking more since Covid felt worse as a result.
Easing of Covid restrictions, from outdoor socialising to pubs re-opening, can bring with them their own temptations and risks:
- More regular binge drinking can harm our health, make us feel more tired and depressed, weaken the immune system and lead to weight gain.
- If you’ve quit smoking, drinking outdoors with your friends can risk breaking your resolve and put you in situations where you feel tempted to smoke.
- People who both smoke and drink have a higher risk of mouth and throat cancer.
- Both alcohol and tobacco are linked with a higher risk of cancer, heart attack and stroke and can worsen stress and anxiety.
Dr Sarah Louden, a GP from Newcastle, said: “As we come out of lockdown we completely understand that a lot of people will want to enjoy the opportunities to socialise with friends and family again, however it is still really important to look after our health.
“It may be tempting to drink more alcohol or reach for a cigarette when socialising outdoors but we don’t want people to slip into habits that can be hard to break and have long term health risks. Some of the best things you can do for your health – both now and in the longer term – are to not smoke, try to keep to a healthy weight and don’t drink too much alcohol. This can help reduce your risk of heart disease, strokes and certain cancers and boost your immune system and mental health. If you are struggling speak to your GP who can offer further advice.”
Deaths from alcohol hit a new high during the first nine months of 2020, up 16% on the same months in 2019 and the biggest toll recorded since records began in 2001.
Alcohol is now understood to be linked to heart disease, stroke and 7 types of cancer, while deaths linked to liver disease have risen a staggering 400% in 40 years. Alcohol can also contribute to the worsening of symptoms of many mental health problems, especially low mood and anxiety.
FIVE TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OF LIFE OUT OF LOCKDOWN
- Take more drink-free days, and on the days you do drink have a glass of something non-alcoholic for each drink you have. Despite alcohol advertising, don’t feel you have to drink.
- If you’re in company, be on your guard against situations in which you might feel tempted to smoke and use a quitting product to stay off tobacco. Switching to vaping is a less harmful way to quit. Visit the NHS website.
- Know your alcohol units – Chief Medical Officer guidance is to not exceed more than 14 units a week. Home poured measures can often differ from standard measures used in pubs. Try the free quiz on our homepage to see how well you know how many units are in a pint or a glass of wine.
- Talk to others about your health goals before meeting up. If you’ve stopped smoking or reduced your drinking during lockdown, letting friends and family know before you get together can help you stay on track.
- The Try Dry app from Alcohol Change is a good way to understand your drinking pattern and track your progress by using the 'My charts' feature to see how much money you spend, units you drink and calories you consume over a time period.