IT'S no secret that Brits love an ice cold pint or a glass of wine, and while this year we haven't able to enjoy a drink in a pub garden, that hasn't stopped us knocking back the booze in lockdown.
In fact, despite the absence of bars, sport and holidays, most of us are actually boozing more during the coronavirus lockdown.
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An overwhelming 54 per cent of Brits have admitted to drinking more since the restrictions came into place – consuming on average an additional 800 calories per week in alcohol alone.
A staggering 39 per cent also confessed to drinking during work hours, according to the new study by sports supplement Lyvit.
Another study revealed an estimated 250,000 have their first drink before midday, with drinkers on average increasing their alcohol consumption by 12.6 units per week in the daytime – the equivalent to about four large glasses of wine or six pints of beer – and a further 14.6 units in the evenings.
So, first things first – why are we drinking more? Among the many reasons given for the increase include boredom, a way to relieve stress and also an increase in 'virtual socialising' at home.
“Many of us have found during lockdown we’ve had more time than ever at home with no excuse to take the children to clubs, school or use the car," explains GP and Cosmedics medical director Dr Ross Perry.
"We’ve also been experiencing some exceptional weather and quite often relaxing in the garden goes hand in hand with with enjoying a glass or two of alcohol.
"For others the pressure of working on the front line, home-schooling, living alone, concerns for loved ones or a job may also lead to drinking more alcohol than ever.
"We have a mentality that drinking ‘takes the edge off’ can help us to unwind after a stressful day… however, in reality this is quite the opposite as these feelings are very short-lived."
Here, Sun Online reveals some simple tips for detoxing before returning to our normal lives…
Visualise the health benefits & list 'exercise goals'
If you want to emerge from lockdown feeling like a butterfly rather than a dehydrated caterpillar, what are the first steps to a new you?
Experts advise to remove temptation, and set out your intentions about what you'd like to achieve.
"If you’re going to start detoxing from alcohol the first thing you need to do is to get rid of any booze in the house, and by that I don’t mean drinking it all!" Dr Perry advises.
"No booze around means no temptation.
"Put a list of goals together at the start of detoxing and include the benefits you’re going to feel with giving up booze.
Put a list of goals together at the start of detoxing and include the benefits you’re going to feel with giving up booze
"Better skin, better sleep quality, no headaches or feeling groggy, more energy. Having it in writing really helps to act as a guide.
"Also, set yourself a list of ‘exercise goals’ go to bed earlier and get up for some early morning exercise.
"Not only is this a great mood booster, it will mentally set you up for the day and you’ll find you just don’t fancy reaching for that glass of wine."
Give yourself extra treats
Self-care is essential for supporting your needs, and is another way to relax instead of resorting to that glass of wine.
"Your drinking is a habit triggered by your daily rituals," says hypnotherapist Ailsa Frank.
"Have a shower or soak in a warm bath after work and slip into comfy clothes. Do some gentle yoga stretches to relax your muscles and calm your mind.
"Visualise yourself waking up refreshed and invigorated. Imagine getting on with your day with a spring in your step, motivated and organised.
"Treat yourself to a face pack, play music in the background or watch a favourite movie. Positive visualisations will help you to make sober changes."
Try the 'one less' method
If you still fancy an actual alcoholic tipple, there are a few tricks to lessen your intake, without you necessarily realising.
"You can still enjoy alcohol – just opt for a smaller glass, or lean towards the 'one less' method," Christine Wright, founder of Habit Breakers, suggests.
"Take one less beer, or one less glass of whatever your chosen go to drink is. You can also try one glass of water after every alcoholic drink – this way you are hydrating your body whilst still treating yourself to your beverage of choice."
Drink out of a different-shaped glass
This one sounds a bit odd, but according to a study by psychologists at Bristol University it's the shape – not the size – of your glass that may matter most when it comes to how much or how little you drink.
You are apparently more likely to drink less if you opt for a straight sided pint glass rather than a curved one.
This is because of the ‘vertical-horizontal optical illusion' – people see equally sized vertical lines as longer than curved or horizontal ones, tricking drinkers to believe there's more beer in a straight glass and will therefore drink it more slowly because it feels 'bigger'.
Keep a drink diary
It is also important to be aware of your limits. For both men and women, the recommended alcohol is no more than 14 units per week.
This equates to six pints of beer or six small glasses of wine.
By keeping a 'drink diary' you are more likely to be aware of your own intake, and once you know your limits, you can adjust accordingly to ensure your health isn't impacted.
Mix it up with mocktails
There are plenty of simple recipes to try making your own alcohol-free drinks to replace often-potent cocktails, while still being able to feel like you're joining in with everyone else.
Or, if beer, spirits or wine are your poison of choice, there are also plenty of booze-free brands out there.
"Consider drinking different options, there are a huge mount of excellent no alcohol, low alcohol brands on the market now," Christine suggests.
"The beauty of these is that you still feel like you're drinking, and you won’t be feeling hungover the next day."
Websites like drydrinker.com sell everything from alcohol-free gin, wine and beer for you to enjoy without the headache.
Dry Drinker founder Stuart Elkington says: "I suggest to my new customers not to stop drinking entirely if they don't want to, but just to start adding some alcohol free versions into their day-to-day.
"The main thing I tell customers is not to panic and not think badly of themselves if they've found that they're drinking more these days. So many of us have found ourselves in that boat."
Mocktail recipes to try at home
Nutritionist Jenna Hope's top three alcohol-free cocktail recipes for you to try at home:
Sparkling water with homemade raspberry puree
Simply place raspberries into a blender with a dash of maple syrup until a puree is formed.
Then add ice and sparkling water, serve in a champagne glass.
You know the drill. Add tomato juice to a glass with Worcester sauce, salt and pepper.
Don’t forget the celery stick for serving.
Virgin Pina Colada
Combine 2 parts pineapple juice with 1 part coconut milk (opt for the fresh variety where possible for a healthier option).
Add ice and serve with a pineapple garnish.
Reaping the rewards
Apparently by cutting down on booze you'll begin to feel the positive effects on your wellbeing and sleep within a week – and after a month you'll begin to notice a physical impact too.
"It actually takes up to 72 hours before you mentally and physically feel back to normal," Dr Perry adds.
"After one week of not drinking, your sleep pattern becomes more regulated, you wake up with more energy and skin looks clearer.
"If you don’t drink any alcohol for a month, the liver increases its ability to flush out toxins. You’ll notice a flatter stomach and clearer skin.
"When there is no alcohol in your blood for several months, the liver cells can return to normal."
"Once you stop drinking alcohol, and replenish the fluids, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your energy levels, sleep quality, dark circles will lessen under the eye area and the daily dry mouth and dull headaches should also go."
So while most of us have enjoyed a little more booze than usual over the last couple of months, with these tips it seems now could be the time to ditch our lockdown lifestyle for something a little more healthy.
If you feel your drinking has become a serious issue, visit Alcohol Change UK or DrinkAware for further help and guidance.
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