A woman has learnt a life-changing lesson whilst in coronavirus lockdown as she realised the effects her alcohol consumption was having on her feelings of stress and anxiety.
Like most Australians, Alejandra Jaramillo spent her weekends with friends at bars or restaurants prior to the global pandemic shutting down cities and forcing stay-at-home orders.
However without realising it, those weekend hangovers and Monday morning blues were having a greater impact on Ms Jaramillo’s overall mood and productivity.
“We have a culture of drinking and it’s part of having fun with friends and de-stressing from difficult things you might be going through,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
“It’s something that we see as a very normal part of our life – having a drink with friends or even by ourselves.”
While Ms Jaramillo would spend every weekend sharing drinks with friends during a social occasion, once Melbourne went into lockdown she decided to stop drinking and re-evaluate her relationship with alcohol.
“Everyone has their own way to cope with stress and anxiety in these difficult times and in my case I realised I was drinking less because I was not having social interactions like before,” she said.
“Instead of drinking at night now I might be reading or watching a documentary.
“I started seeing a really good impact and the benefits from that for me.”
‘It’s kind of like a cycle’
Ms Jaramillo said she knew reducing her consumption of alcohol would lessen feelings of stress and anxiety, but only since making the decision to limit her drinking was she really feeling the full impact.
“When you’re hungover is when we experience these emotions, when they are amplified,” she said.
“If you’re stressed, you’re going to feel 10 times more stressed – and 10 times more worried about things you’re going through [when you’re hungover].
“Alcohol doesn’t help, it really amplifies these feelings and it’s kind of like a cycle.”
After limiting her alcohol consumption, Ms Jaramillo said she had more energy and was becoming increasingly focused at work.
“I’m sticking to a routine. I like it and I’m seeing the benefits at work. Normally on Monday after a big weekend I’m very tired, not really focused and still recovering. You’re not present in what you are doing and this has been a really good [lesson] to be honest,” she said.
“We are going through really hard times, we’ve never gone through something like this as a society so it’s very important to really think about what’s going to contribute to and benefit us in a good way and how can we cope in an efficient and positive way.
“Sometimes we don’t realise the impact alcohol has on our life in all aspects – relationship, work, motivation, being active.”
Women drinking more in coronavirus lockdown
Data from the Australian Millennial Report found losing weight was a goal of 55 per cent of millennial women while 47.5 per cent wanted to reduce stress and anxiety.
However, just 10.49 per cent identified cutting down or stopping drinking as a health goal.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) said young Aussie women had been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus when it came to the loss of jobs – a stressor that could cause more feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, and lead to an increase in alcohol consumption.
The Australian National University revealed amid the coronavirus pandemic Aussies had increased their alcohol consumption during these unprecedented times.
Comparable to men, female drinks were 1.3 times more likely to increase their consumption to mainly deal with stress and anxiety.
Now in a bid to improve the health of Aussies, the ADF has launched the Celebrate You campaign to urge people to be more conscious of how much they are drinking.
“From getting a better night’s sleep, to dropping those extra iso-kilos, saving money, or feeling more motivated to get up and seize the day. There are a wide range of benefits associated with reduced alcohol intake,” ADF spokesperson Laura Bajurny said.
“Our #celebrateYOUcampaign is all about encouraging young people, particularly those that may have increased their alcohol consumption during lockdown, to drink less and to celebrate the benefits as we slowly return to pre-COVID life.”
The campaign is focusing on positive ways to enhance your life by ditching the booze, including better sleep, lowering the risk of cancer, losing weight and saving money.
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