The sudden onset of lockdown in March due to the Covid 19 pandemic threw us into an unknown world – suddenly lots of us were adapting to working from home, schools closing, many people understandably had worries related to catching the virus; how it would effect them and their families. Suddenly we were not able to see loved ones and friends, or perhaps even go to the shops. Many people with health issues were being told to shield and rely on others to help them with supplies.
Unhealthy Habits and Lockdown
It has been widely reported that lots of people developed unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol more frequently and in larger volumes. With little structure to the day- no commute to and from work and around the clock easy to access home bar, stresses of working from home, homeschooling children, financial worries among many other strains. It is easy to see why some people turned to unhealthy habits out of pressure and stress.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists recently reported that the number of problem drinkers has almost doubled since just before the start of lockdown. The report also warns that heavy drinkers are more likely to develop serious complications if they catch coronavirus, and that the problem of excess alcohol consumption is growing fastest among middle class drinkers.
Young People and Smoking
It might therefore be surprising to hear that while drinking has become an increased problem for many since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an astonishing quit rate in smoking among young smokers.
Analysis by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and University College London (UCL) reports that:
“Smokers under 30 are more than twice as likely to have stopped smoking because of COVID-19 than those over 50. This bucks usual trends, which see smokers of all ages quit at similar rates and is despite older smokers being more likely to have health conditions which place them at greater risk from COVID-19, such as COPD and diabetes.”
This particular trend in young people quitting, has been attributed to a number of factors since the beginning of lockdown. Young people’s social lives have been disrupted, many have had to move back home, and lots of young people have lost their jobs and therefore, their financial freedom. These lifestyle factors may have forced along the need to quit as well as the awareness of the risk to your health that smoking imposes, especially if catching the virus.
At a time when adopting a healthy lifestyle has never been more important, it is a good time to consider quitting smoking, and to try get a handle on your drinking habits.
How to Stop Drinking or Smoking
There are a number of resources which can help you to stop smoking or drinking in our Living Life to the Full course.
Our ‘Stop Smoking in 5 Minutes’ book is available in hardcopy or ebook on our website and will guide you through stopping smoking 5 minutes at a time. Why 5 minutes? Did you know that each craving lasts 5 minutes? So if you start tackling one craving at a time, you will get through each 5 minutes until the cravings go away entirely. This book will talk you through the ‘Simple Stopping System,’ (SSS). It is good to remember that if you slip up which trying our SSS, you can only slip up for 5 minutes, so don’t beat yourself up, but start again.
Sometimes we do things to make us feel better but in fact these are the things that mess us up in the long term. Some of the things that you think are helping, can actually make you feel worse. When you feel down or fed up, you might smoke more, or reach for the alcohol and at the time it might feel comforting. A glass of wine with a meal is lovely, but sometimes we can reach for the booze or cigarettes to block out how we feel and help us relax, help us sleep, forget about a bad day and before you know it, you are leaning on drinking and smoking too much.
It’s not always easy to be honest with yourself when it comes to how much you are smoking or drinking. Try our ‘Traffic Light’ worksheet to monitor the things you may be doing too much of and it will help you to be honest and to work out if you want to cut it out altogether or whether you just need to cut back.
Another strategy from our LLTTF course is our ‘Easy 4 Step Plan’ worksheet (E4SP) from our ‘How to fix almost anything’ module. This method will help you to begin to tackle how to reduce or stop smoking or drinking.
Step 1: break your problem into chunks- you might want to initially cut back your drinking or smoking gradually for example. Work on a little bit of your problem at a time and break your smoking or drinking problem into little chunks, you can make it a lot easier to fix.
Step 2: brainstorm ways to do the first piece. Write down all the things you could do to work on the first part of the problem. For example- cut out drinking or smoking on Mondays, plan on doing something else instead.
Step 3: Choose an idea and make a plan to do it, (choose one from your brainstorming to tackle first.) Do this in a step by step plan of how you are going to achieve the first part of your plan and think about the problems you might encounter too. Thinking about the obstacles will help you to make a plan to get around them.
Step 4: Check your plan and put it into action. Is it a realistic plan? Is it easy and slow? Have you thought about the obstacles? If so then you are ready to go.
If you find it tricky, then write down reasons why you started on the plan. Write yourself encouraging affirmations to help you along the way to encourage you. Read Write All Over Your Bathroom Mirror on how to get started and for more ideas to keep motivated and on track to stick to your goal, of reducing or stopping smoking or drinking. Keep a diary and mark a check point, once a week for 3 months to mark your achievements. If you don’t manage to keep going, don’t worry, try again with a plan and start again getting back on track.
For more advice to help you visit:
For to help stop drinking visit:
You can also contact your G.P. or health centre for advice about your local services.
The Living Life to the Full Team.