Social Distancing Diaries

Time To Raise My Standards Just A Smidge.

I know that – in general – we’re all supposed to give ourselves grace during this pandemic. We’re not supposed to be too hard on ourselves if our eating habits are not that healthy or if we’re drinking a bit more than usual. We’re coping with trauma and we need to allow ourselves extra time binging dumb reality TV or playing mindless iPhone games if that’s what’s getting us through the void.

It reminds me of when I quit smoking. I didn’t quit with any medicinal help or nicotine replacement. I quit cold turkey. And the time it actually worked was when I gave myself 5 whole days of doing nothing but being miserable. I timed it for the week E was at his Dad’s over the Christmas break and I had extra days off work and I just sat around drinking Diet Coke and eating non-stop for 3 days. BUT THAT’S WHAT THE PAMPHLET TOLD ME TO DO. It said it takes 3 days to get over the hardest physical part so to only focus on survival during those three days. Not diet, not exercise, not well-being…JUST GET THROUGH THOSE 3 DAYS AT ALL COSTS.

And I did. That was 17 years ago.

So I was giving myself grace to just survive, especially while we were doing school on top of everything else. I wasn’t insisting on a good schedule for yard work or housework. The bathrooms got really gross before I cleaned them. My grass got WAY too high before I mowed it. Sometimes I ate ice cream for breakfast. I stopped reading or drawing or even reaching out to friends. For the last three months I’ve just been in survival mode. And I’ve been giving myself permission to do that with no criticism.

But school is over now. Life is still crazy but I think I need to start setting some standards back in my life again. While I believe “normal” is never coming back, I need to find a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle because I’m starting to see the negative side effects of giving myself too much freedom to just survive.

I’m going to start with alcohol. I’ve been drinking way more the last 3 months than I ever have before. No less than 2 beers a night. Most nights I’ve had 3. And then periodically…like maybe once every 2 weeks? I’ll have 4-6. So we’re looking at an average of probably 18 beers a week.

I see this graphic above which is the standard of “low-risk” drinking and I read that “per day” part (for women, 3-4 drinks per day) and I am like: YAY! I AM MORE 2-3 DRINKS PER DAY SO I AM GOLDEN!

But then I read that second part…”less than 7 drinks per week.” And I’m like…OOPS.

If you drink more than this you become “high risk” for a lot of different things but the thing I’m the most worried about is alcoholism because that is what runs in my family in very destructive ways. And it’s not like I was even consistently in the “low risk” zone before the pandemic, if I’m being honest. I’ve been a 1-beer/night drinker for a LONG LONG time now. And then I usually pick one or two nights on the weekend to drink more. So I was kinda pushing this limit even pre-pandemic.

And since my anxiety and depression have magnified during the pandemic, the mental health side effects from drinking too much are more severe. I’ve been noticing my downward spirals once I start drinking at night and lately? Those lows have gotten really really really low.

Last night was bad. Let me just say that. And while I’m not going to blame these episodes entirely on alcohol (I mean…because we’re still dealing with pandemic issues too…) I can say after last night that the alcohol is definitely now adding a risk factor I don’t need.

So…three months in and it’s time to address this issue.

Here’s the problem though, It’s been so long since I’ve moderated my drinking that I’m not sure I can. And that’s what stresses me out the most because…like I said…alcoholism.

I’m going to see if I can go without it at all for the next 7 days. I think I need to do an alcohol detox because it’s been so long since I’ve not used beer as the way I end my day, I’m not sure I remember how to do it any other way. So – I’m going to focus these 7 days on trying to build new routines and see how easy it is.

The thing I’m worried about is that it might be really really difficult. And if that’s the case, if I can’t even cut back for a week, then I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

One day at a time.

6 thoughts on “Time To Raise My Standards Just A Smidge.”

  1. I am glad you ended with “one day at a time” because 7 seems like too many! And I have no idea if 12 steps programs work but I assume they do for some people or the wouldn’t still exist. I go to a 12 step program for Emotions (EA) and I think it is fabulous but it feels different than if I were trying to stop taking drugs or alcohol. I can see where that would be really scary. It’s a habit on some levels I suppose, the one beer a night, but also obviously can have a physical effect. That makes me think about the book The Power of Habit and how that author would suggest that you need a replacement habit—so at the time you would reach for the beer you….I don’t know.. have sparkling water instead? take a walk?
    I have no idea really but I do know that everything is energy and so am sending you lots of positive thoughts and good wishes and strength.
    Julie A

  2. You don’t know me, but I’m always so impressed by your self-knowledge and reflection and your determination to act when you know something should change. Quitting smoking, downsizing the house, changing your language to avoid racism/ableism/self-criticism, etc. And this is no different. You can do this one too. And I’ll be rooting for you.

  3. For what it’s worth, I have tried to stop drinking for small increments 5 days, 14 days. But I would always crave it (and hated myself for craving it) until I did a Dry January in 2020. And I HATED THAT but was like, I’m just gonna do it! And I compensated by buying fancy pants seltzer (cheaper than beer, I said) and putting it into fancy beer glasses, and gutting It out and cursing my decision bc i have little kids who drive me batty. And then after like 28 days.. I just stopped craving it. I probably could have gone another month but it was super bowl and I had promised myself a beer. All that to say, it can be harder to go for short increments than long ones, so give yourself some grace if you can’t do 7 days, and consider trying a longer horizon (as counterintuitive as that might seem.) good luck! And I feel you on the, let’s get back to healthier habits, we can’t live like this forever, eating an entire loaf of fresh no knead bread by myself every day…

  4. I am not at risk for alcoholism – I only ever want one drink (often don’t finish it) and it doesn’t run in my family. However, I gave up drinking 2 years ago because it was recommended to help with an autoimmune thing. Well, it was really hard to give it up! But after 2 weeks, I didn’t notice and after a month, a drink didn’t even sound good to me. Things that helped me: replacing the end of day ritual with something else, like a cold fizzy water instead of a beer. Having no alcohol in the house. And looking at my budget – I was not a big drinker but I spent about $50 a month of alcohol. I started using that money for charity or a good cause instead. During the pandemic I’ve been using it to buy a gift card for my cashier.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say that if you find it hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem – I truly have no issues with alcohol but a habit/comfort ritual is hard to change. It did make a big difference in my health and my sleep got better.

  5. Cheering you on! I just told my hubs yesterday that I thought maybe I might be drinking too much and am going to limit it to Saturdays for the next few weeks and see how that goes. Looking at this graphic, I was definitely over the weekly recommendation for females too quite a lot, and addictions run through my family too.

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