When every lockdown day looks and feels the same, it is natural to give in to temptation as a reward for surviving another 24 hours. And why not, engaging in a little self-indulgence is a reasonable way to cope with the monotony and loneliness of lockdown, right?
Regular indulgence in anything from alcohol and drugs, to more behaviour-led vices such as gambling, shopping and even binge eating, can lead to building up a dependency over time. We chase the ‘high’ feeling that it provides us in the moment, but in the long term, we could be making the underlying feelings worse.
Market data suggests that alcohol sales were up by 22% in March when the country went into lockdown. Many of us will relax with a glass of wine at some point in the week, whether it’s cooking dinner with your other half, chatting to friends via Zoom or even relaxing in the garden on a sunny evening. But for some us of, lockdown lifestyle changes could lead to bad habits forming; bad habits that are hard to break.
Even more concerning, is that for those of us who have battled addiction problems in the past, lockdown could act as a trigger for old addictions to resurface. The important thing to remember is to be honest with yourself. Recognise your triggers and speak to someone about how you are feeling. Online therapy can really help you to understand the underlying causes of your addiction and which factors can make it worse, as well as teach coping strategies to help nip addictive behaviour in the bud and prevent a relapse.
Identify your temptation. Temptation can come in many forms and often acts as a temporary distraction from an unsatisfactory reality. It’s important to identify the feeling that acts as a trigger to reach for a glass of wine, cigarette or even harder substances. Keeping a diary can help you realise how much you are drinking, eating or even spending. This will help you to better understand what is sparking your behaviour which is the first step in addressing the underlying issue to help you to discover how to break bad habits.
Recognise your triggers. These will be personal to each of us but could range from boredom, social isolation, stress, anxiety, exhaustion, negative emotions and even brought on at times of celebration. Social distancing has temporarily taken away our physical support network, this coupled with a lack of regular routine could make resisting temptation even harder, particularly if you are in addiction recovery. Whether you are simply struggling to resist the urge to over-indulge or you are concerned a more serious addiction relapse is heading your way, by identifying and understanding your triggers will help in devising a plan to help manage your feelings.
Devise a plan. Commit to only drinking alcohol on weekends, plan healthy meals each week or even lower the limit on your credit card. Think about some practical measures that you can put in place to prevent giving into your triggers.
Deep breathing exercises, long baths, watching something funny and exercise are all effective mental health strategies that offer comfort and distraction. Try your hardest to exercise will power and find a healthy substitution. Accept that giving in won’t banish the negative feelings or desperate urges in the long term.
And if you give in. Lockdown has put us all in an unprecedented situation, one that we are all trying our best to navigate so the important thing is to be kind to yourself. If you find that you are giving into temptation, don’t ignore the signs and triggers leading to this behaviour. By addressing the underlying reason as to why you are feeling the need for addictive behaviour, you will be able to break bad habits and stop new ones from forming.
If you feel that you need a bit of extra help to navigate the current situation, professional online therapy can provide you with the guidance and advice you need to manage how you’re feeling, all from the comfort of your own home. Don’t let the negative effects of lockdown stay with you long after this time is over.