Booze has become a coping mechanism for many Britons during the pandemic.
With pubs and restaurants closed and the government ordering us to stay at home, people’s drinking habits have changed over the past year.
And according to a new study of 1,000 adults commissioned by the low-abv alcohol company CleanCo, while people’s primary reason for enjoying a tipple pre-Covid was social, 30 per cent admit they now reach for a glass to help them forget about their worries or alleviate boredom.
Experts from the brand, founded by ex-Made in Chelsea star Spencer Matthews, have teamed up with British life coach Michael Cloonan to identify 10 typical pandemic drinking personalities.
From The Marker – who marks the end of their working day by pouring a glass – to The Camel who goes weeks without drinking before indulging in a big blowout, here FEMAIL reveals the most common traits, and Michael’s advice for moderating your boozing.
Experts from the brand, founded by ex-Made in Chelsea star Spencer Matthews, have teamed up with British life coach Michael Cloonan to identify 10 typical pandemic drinking personalities (stock image)
THE WEEKEND HEDONIST
People with this drinking personality don’t drink during the week, by and large.
But their abstinence from Monday to Thursday warrants a free pass and blowout at the weekend.
The belief that units and calories don’t count on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday is their mantra for embracing a tipple. The CleanCo research revealed they tend to be male and from Scotland.
How to moderate: You’ve worked hard all week and feel you deserve a weekend without limits. It’s understandable – but also dangerous.
This pattern of excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a host of varying health problems in the long term. The NHS advise men and women not to drink more than 14 units a week – and with a single bottle of wine coming in at 10 units – they easily tot up.
First and foremost – water is your friend. For every alcoholic drink you consume, have a glass of water in between to pace yourself.
If you really want to change your habits, keep a tab of what you’re drinking. Drink Less is a great moderation app created by a team of psychologists at University College London.
Alternatively, simply note down each drink you have and at what time. Not only will this help you practice mindful drinking – but looking and tallying up your units the following day can also be quite sobering.
You can happily survive for long-periods – weeks, maybe even months – without a drink. But when they go, they go…. a blowout ensues.
Typically aged between 35-44 from Yorkshire, notably Sheffield.
How to moderate: If you swing between long stints of sobriety and hedonistic scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, it’s safe to say you are not doing your body many favours.
You’re asking it to do two extreme things – and it becomes confused where the balance point is.
While giving up alcohol for any amount of time isn’t something that should be discouraged, if it leads to excessive over-consumption when you do, then try to work on breaking this cycle to achieve more equilibrium.
Whether it’s at work, the gym or your approach to drinking – if you tend to give everything 100 per cent dedication, aim to dismantle this pattern of perfectionism. Give yourself a stopping point and stick to it.
If you’ve had a period without alcohol, your tolerances are going to be much lower. Try a traffic light formation when you next have a drink – start with full strength, then opt for a no or low option, followed by a glass of water for hydration. And repeat.
Like clockwork, the Metronome enjoys a drink every day. A glass or two with dinner or lunch. They don’t drink to get drunk. It’s a daily ritual where consumption remains consistent, and rarely to excess.
They are more likely to be over 55 and from the North East, according to the study.
How to moderate: If Dry January went out the window or teetotalism feels too unachievable, a drier February – or March, or April – could be less daunting if you experiment with replacement options. This way, you can moderate your alcohol intake without feeling like you are missing out.
If you love gin and are looking to only reduce the amount of alcohol you’re drinking, rather than eliminate it, a low-alcohol replacement like CleanGin (1.2% ABV) is a good option.
THE ROLLER COASTER
From work successes to career stresses, the challenges of home-schooling and the unrelenting news agenda – a drink can feel like it helps boost the positive feelings or dampen the negative ones.
The Roller Coaster pours out a measure to ride out the highs and lows. They are likely to be found in Wales – specifically Cardiff.
How to moderate: It’s not uncommon for people to use alcohol as a crutch when dealing with difficulties and stressful situations in life. It can be a rocky road to go down though, because without realising it, you’re teaching your brain that drinking is a solution that will help to make a bad situation more bearable.
If reading or watching the news makes you anxious, for example, it’s all too easy to opt for alcohol as a coping mechanism. Before you know it, this becomes a routine every time the six o’clock news comes on. It doesn’t do anything to help the actual anxiety, but acts as a mask when you can’t cope.
If you’d like to stop using alcohol as a crutch, the best thing you can do is learn to sit with painful emotions. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with negative feelings. And you’ll be less likely to turn to something that will cover them up.
Start a journal observing how an emotion makes you feel. The more you observe, the more you realise you can handle. Writing also means you’re not drinking.
Heavily influenced by the pandemic, working from home has blurred work and personal life boundaries.
Unable to head for a post work pint or G&T, pouring a drink at the end of your day is one of only a few ways to delineate where your workday finishes and your own time begins.
A boundary marker – drinking at the end of each day now signifies ‘leaving the office’. The research revealed they are more likely to be men aged 35-44.
How to moderate: Working from home has made it hard for us to distinguish what’s work and what’s home – so first things first, have a shower and a change of clothes as you clock off from work, as this will help shift your mindset.
Leave the house. If you associate home with the office, try introducing a ‘pretend’ commute each day – a short circular bike ride or walk that helps draw a line in the sand.
If you do find yourself still having a drink, limit yourself to one, then switch to a low or no alternative.
THE ‘IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE’
The airport has earned the accolade as being one of the few places on earth that it’s socially acceptable to raise a glass at any time of the day.
Coining the ‘it’s five o’clock somewhere’ phrase, this personality is likely to have found their drinking habits have inched earlier and earlier throughout the pandemic.
Boredom combined with the sheer monotony of lockdown life and lack of daily structure are reasons to drink.
They are more likely to be from Northern Ireland and Belfast specifically.
How to moderate: Three lockdowns in and many of us have hit a wall when it comes to motivating ourselves to find something different to do. But occupying yourself beyond booze can help break this cycle.
If you’ve exhausted everything TV has to offer, you can learn almost anything on the internet.
Try to find something physical to do – whether that’s taking up painting, the piano, or even teaching yourself how to install wall panelling at home. It’ll also give you that satisfaction of achieving something.
Art galleries and museums around the world have also digitised their collections and are now offering free virtual tours. From New York’s MoMA to the Tate Britain, there are amazing galleries that you can visit from your own sofa.
When moments of boredom seep in, step away from the kitchen so you don’t instinctively head to the fridge. Instead, go and sit in a different room you don’t associate with alcohol and where it’s harder to reach for a glass.
THE ZOOM SOCIALITE
Drinking used to be visiting the pub with some friends. Now it’s over the virtual threshold. You wouldn’t drink alone, but at hangout sessions with friends.
Zoom Socialites drink to increase the amount of fun they’re having with friends. You don’t drink alone, but at gatherings, believing that alcohol will make things more fun.
They are most likely to be female and from London.
How to moderate: Zoom Socialites are pretty well adjusted; there’s a time and a place for drinking. Just remember to pace and space when the occasions crop up. After all, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
Rather than mindlessly downing a drink, leisurely sip it, taking the time to really enjoy it. As the liver takes an hour (on average) to break down a unit of alcohol, aim to have no more than a glass in this time period.
THE MERRY GO ROUND
You start the week armed with healthier intentions, but by 5pm on a Monday, you cave and decide ‘you’ll start again next week’. These pandemic drinkers are largely aged 25-34.
How to moderate: If this sounds like you, it’s easy to feel like you’ve done enough damage and throw any good intentions you had away and have a free for all.
Ask yourself if you are a perfectionist? When we apply this kind of thinking to alcohol, it’s fueling this all or nothing mentality. When you’re doing it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ there’s no flexibility.
While good intentions need action to bring about change, reducing the rigidity of your rules can be more helpful. So if you do slip up, a better mindset is to begin again straight away. If you reach for something alcoholic, go that extra mile not to have another one straight after it. And changing your environment could help do this.
This might sound easier said than done given we are all stuck at home, but if the kitchen or living room is subconsciously ‘the pub’, leave it and go to the bedroom or perhaps take a bath. Give a friend a call or listen to a podcast.
Setting boundaries with booze is also key here – if you’re the kind of person that wanders around the house armed with a glass of wine then think about banning alcohol from certain rooms.
Keeping a diary can also be a great way to identify patterns of behaviour. You might even identify regular spots in the day or week that trip you up most. The more you recognise this, the harder it comes to make excuses.
THE HIGH SOBRIETY
Some started re-evaluating their relationship beforehand, but the pandemic has also spurred the High Sobriety to appraise their ties with booze.
Lowering or cutting out alcohol completely, they have made a move towards sobriety. For some, sobriety means they simply no longer get drunk. Others have gone a step further becoming teetotal.
They are enjoying the benefits, productivity and energy associated with having a healthier relationship with alcohol.
They are most likely to be millennials from Manchester.
Visit Clean.co for more details about its low alcohol drinks.
THE REVERSE WEEKENDER
The pressures of work and home-schooling mean you seek solace in midweek drinking. You’re all about ‘getting through’ or ‘coping with’ what the week has to throw at you.
You tend to be so burnt out by Friday, that you see the weekend as a ‘recovery’ period.
How to moderate: Alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism, but drinking every day can make you feel burnt out, and instead of spending the weekend relaxing and doing the things you enjoy, you end up trying to recover, just to repeat the process from Monday.
If this is you, try to introduce more positive coping strategies. Chewing gum can help alleviate stress by reducing cortisol levels. Have it on hand and chew it for at least three minutes.
Music is also a great form of escapism and cure for a bad mood. Create playlists that motivate you as well as relax you.
Getting organised can also stave off stress and anxiety. A to-do list can not only manage your feelings about having unfinished work, but if you do it before bed, it can help you nod off as it settles your brain from worrying about everything that needs to get done.
If you have any reason to think that you might be physically addicted to alcohol and at risk of suffering withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, extreme anxiety, insomnia, seizures, it is essential that you consult a healthcare professional before you significantly reduce your alcohol intake or stop drinking abruptly.
Also, if you have tried repeatedly to moderate your drinking without success and simply find it too difficult to implement strategies like the ones listed above, then considering taking a break from drinking for a few weeks or months and/or seeking consultation from a doctor is recommended.