The stress of the COVID-19 outbreak is getting to everyone, young, old and children too. In such dire times, many may think turning to substances, such as pot and alcohol can help them in dealing with the panic of this pandemic. However, resorting to the use of pot and alcohol and other such substance abuse is harmful in long term and no way does it help in relieving the feelings of loneliness and stress of the COVID-19 outbreak. According to experts there are other better ways to beat the pandemic blues. Read on to know more.
Avoid Alcohol and Pot As A Means To Escape The Covid Stress
Experts strongly advise against using alcohol or marijuana to cope with the loneliness, anxiety and stress felt during this pandemic, where you are isolating yourself from other people, as getting addicted to such substances can cause additional problems on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Covid-19 wrecks havoc with the health of the lungs.(7, 8) If a person is using marijuana or inhaling other substances, such as e-cigarettes or cigarettes or vaping devices, then it can put more stress on the pulmonary system making it more vulnerable to covid.(9, 10) Alcohol consumption affects the overall health of the body resulting in problems, such as insomnia and weak immune system, which again increases the risk of getting covid and its complications.(6, 10)
The sheer boredom and anxiety resulting from the pandemic of the Coronavirus can entice a person to turn to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism,(1, 2, 3, 4, 5) but no matter what, one should resist this urge to turn towards substance abuse, as it causes more problems. Self-medicating should also be avoided for the same reasons.
It is okay to reach out for the occasional joint or beer during the stress and loneliness of this historic moment; however, one should be aware of and keep tabs on the amount you are consuming. Having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner now and then is not likely to cause problems, but what will cause problems is when the single glass becomes two glasses or more and so on and the consumption increases and becomes a dependency and addiction problem leading to bigger issues.
There is going to be an increase in such type of coping mechanisms where one seeks comfort in losing their senses with pot and alcohol,(1, 2, 3, 4) however, there are lot of positive coping mechanisms which one can indulge in to deal with the stress of pandemic. Substance use and self-medication can seem like an easy and quick fix for many; however, it can cause problems with instability, addiction and dependency.
Particularly with COVID-19 pandemic, these types of behaviors can cause more problems with a person’s health. Vaping and smoking greatly compromises your health in the covid pandemic. Inhaled substances or vaping devices put lot of stress on the pulmonary system(9) and also affects a person’s immune system thus making them more vulnerable to covid.(6)
As COVID-19 is a disease which targets the lungs,(7, 8) and so it can pose a serious threat for people who vape and smoke.(11) People will have compromised immunity from vaping or smoking or drinking alcohol and this will increase the risk of not only COVID-19, but also the serious complications it accompanies.
Does Alcohol Consumption Pose Equal Risk As Drugs In This Pandemic?
Smoking tobacco or marijuana is a big health risk in this pandemic. Alcohol consumption is also equally dangerous, as it can lead to additional health problems. Alcohol is equally problematic, as it is something which can be accessed easily and is not seen something as “substance use” by many people. When someone is quarantining, this gives them an excuse to hoard alcohol and drink it. Just like other substances, alcohol also negatively affects the overall body’s health causing issues like sleep problems, weak immune system etc.(6) When in the midst of a pandemic, one should try to look for items that help in fortifying health and gives protection from the corona virus. Drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and vaping isn’t going to do that.
Self-Medicating Is Also A Big No-No
People who indulge in self-medicating are at increased risk for many health issues by making their body weak with unnecessary medicines and becoming more vulnerable to the covid virus.
The crux of the matter is one shouldn’t indulge in any behaviors which will increase the risk of getting sick; especially when you are in the middle of a raging pandemic. Hospitals all over the world are overburdened as it is to accommodate the increasing cases of Coronavirus patients and visiting the hospital in such a situation will only burden people who are helping others in this pandemic and also cause risk to exposure to this disease.
The risk when binging alcohol or other substance abuse is worsening of health, which leads to unnecessary hospital visits where you are exposed to medical environment with increased risk of virus contamination.
Positive Coping Practices to Deal with the Pandemic Panic(13, 14, 15)
It is important to make use of positive coping practices for better long-term outcomes, especially with regards to one’s health. There are some wonderful options which people can use at home in these times which doesn’t involve the use of alcohol or any drugs.
Make Use of Exercise to Combat the Covid Anxiety
You can turn this pandemic into an opportunity to focus of your workouts at home. You can watch exercise and yoga videos and practice them at home and finally shed that excess weight and end up with great body and good mental health too.
Re-Connect With Family & Friends
Find the silver lining in this pandemic. Being home bound gives you the perfect opportunity to get closer to your family and friends. Play games with your kids and spend time with your parents. You can also connect with your friends via various digital channels where you can participate in online group lunch date on zoom and other such apps.
If you feel the need to talk to your therapist, then this can be achieved virtually without having to expose yourself to the virus with an office visit.
Mindfulness and Meditation for Covid Blues
Meditation and mindfulness exercises or other relaxation techniques can be easily found on the internet and utilized to focus your time and energy to benefit your mental and spiritual health. Instead of getting bored and restless, practicing mindfulness and medication will make you relaxed and peaceful.
Your personality will dictate what activities will make you happy or relaxed. Something simple, such as soaking in a scented hot bath can be pleasurable and immensely relaxing for you. Keep track of your feelings, make note of what makes you happy and be more aware of when you are bound to slip into a negative mind space.
If you can maintain the required physical/social distancing(12) then go for a long hike or run to change the mundane everyday routine and experience the adrenaline rush and better mood.
Re-Ignite Your Hobbies
If you like to cook, look for new recipes and brush up your cooking skills. Similarly, there are lots of things which can be learned through internet, without stepping out of the home. Other than cooking, you can do some painting or gardening or finish that book which you have been meaning to for ages and didn’t have the time for it.
Every cloud has a silver lining and you just have to focus on that bright spot every day, although it is easier said than done. Focus on each day as it comes and take this as an opportunity to do all the things which you couldn’t do before because you didn’t have time for it.
Try to develop a positive mindset that this too shall pass and this thinking will not only help you, but others too who rely on you and derive strength from your positive countenance. There are so many better and healthier things for coping with the stress. Alcohol and drugs may seem the easier choice, but in fact they are not only harmful but contribute to worsening of health and increased risk of diseases.
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