WHEN Holly Willoughby recently admitted she’d had the worst hangover of her life since being in isolation, mums across the country guiltily nodded in agreement.
One study found that 61 percent of Brits had increased their alcohol intake since the lockdown began, while Google searches for “wine delivery UK” has increased by 2,250 percent.
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Although the World Health Organisation has warned to stick to the recommended units, the pressures of lockdown have meant some are pushing the boundaries.
Here, mum-of-two Hannah Verdier, 47, from south London, explains her daily countdown to wine o’clock.
I wake up on Saturday morning with a pounding head and a dry mouth. What the hell happened last night?
Was I dancing on a pub table? Did I stop off for a cheeky kebab on the way home? Then I remember: I’m in lockdown and the furthest I’ve strayed in three weeks is to leave the bins out.
But on Friday night I did start drinking at 5pm, as is traditional now.
Then I stayed up late and cracked open a second bottle of wine when a Zoom party got out of hand.
There may even have been shots. Ugh, shots.
Since lockdown, I’m drinking more than I did in the ’90s.
And Holly Willoughby and I are not alone – a recent survey said that two thirds of Brits admitted to drinking more during lockdown, while Mumsnet users are debating whether it’s OK to down three-year-old Pimm’s.
Before lockdown, as a health-conscious single mum and recently qualified personal trainer, my drinking was sensible.
Six months ago, I had got my drinking in check and was in a routine.
Diary of a home boozer
Monday – nothing
Tuesday – nothing
Wednesday – one glass of wine with dinner
Thursday – nothing
Friday – half a bottle of wine
Saturday – two glasses of wine with lunch, gin and tonic in the evening
Sunday – nothing
Lockdown week one
Monday – two gin and tonics
Tuesday – two glasses of wine
Wednesday – gin and tonic, glass of wine
Thursday – two beers
Friday – one snowball, a bottle of wine (er, and a bit of the second), vodka shot
Saturday – half a bottle of wine
Sunday – large beer at lunchtime, half a bottle of red wine in the evening
A few Proseccos on a Friday, maybe a glass of red wine with Sunday lunch. I’d even gone dry for six weeks before Christmas.
My excessive boozing started the weekend lockdown was announced while my daughters Mimi, 11, and eight-year-old Evie were staying with their dad. I was suddenly gripped by panic about how we’d cope or if one of us caught the virus.
Although I’d never normally crack open a bottle of red alone on a Saturday afternoon, I did just that and my nerves melted away.
The drinking escalated in the first week, especially once I realised I was trapped indoors with the kids all day long.
It quickly became clear that attempting to home-school two children who’d rather be watching YouTube than witnessing a mathematically challenged parent struggle to do equations was a thankless task.
And it was a miracle if I could get both of them to agree to a daily walk up the street at the same time.
Add in hormonal shifts and tantrums (both mine and the 11-year-old’s) and wine o’clock couldn’t come soon enough.
In that first week of lockdown, not an evening went by when I didn’t have a couple of glasses – I even found myself splashing out £150 on 12 bottles I ordered online, in case I couldn’t get out to the shop, which was a real extravagance.
The weekends, meanwhile, are an excuse for a lunchtime G&T, a cheeky afternoon beer and a bottle of wine in the evening, with the excuse that I don’t have to get up for 9am PE with Joe Wicks.
I know it’s not good for me, but I’m doing whatever it takes to get me through right now.
What does the NHS advise about drinking/
The NHS advises both men and women not to regularly drink more than 14 units per week. A small glass of wine (125ml) contains about 1.5 units.
A survey by the Institute of Alcohol Studies said that nearly a fifth of parents have felt guilty or ashamed as a result of their drinking.
Last year a study showed that British women were the world’s booziest, with 17 percent drinking more after having kids.
I haven’t seen my family since Christmas, I’m worried about everyone and answering my little girls’ questions about when coronavirus will go away is emotionally exhausting.
Life’s so uncertain at the moment, I feel like I have more to worry about my alcohol units.
After a glass of wine I’m more relaxed and willing to have a giggle as Mimi and Evie teach me the latest TikTok dances.
I never actually get drunk in front of them though – and I’m careful to make sure they don’t see drinking every night as normal.
Like my other mum friends, the real boozing starts once they’re in bed and we crack open a bottle on a Zoom call and stay up way past our bedtimes.
As one of my friends, who until lockdown would never drink at home, says, it’s not like you have to get home from anywhere other than your own living room.
And I’ll find any excuse to celebrate right now.
On Sunday I cleared the shed out, a job I’d been putting off for three years, so I cracked open a 2pm beer to toast its tidiness.
The neighbours will hear champagne corks popping if I finally get round to clearing out the kitchen drawers.
Last Friday night, however, was the big one. I was tired and relieved we’d got through another week of home-schooling – which included the not-very-sweet sound of recorder practice (if I never hear London’s Burning squeaked out at high volume again, it’ll be too soon).
But I also had one eye on the news headlines and was feeling sad. “Perhaps I should go easy,” I thought, but I poured myself a snowball ready for my Zoom party.
Bizarre, I know, but I had Advocaat and lemonade left over from Christmas.
Speaking to my two friends who live alone, we all got a bit carried away after the girls’ bedtime and before we knew it we were taking a screen break to open a second bottle of wine.
It was so much fun, but I felt that Sauvignon and the 1am finish the next day.
I’m confident that once the stress of lockdown subsides, I’ll go back to moderation once more.
The World Health Organisation has quite rightly warned us to stick to 14 units a week, with experts describing drinking as “an unhelpful coping strategy”.
Boozing seems like a good way to calm your nerves, but as a depressant it makes anxiety worse, and exacerbates the stress of being cooped up in the house.
So at the moment, I’m trying to stick to one glass of wine per night, just to take the edge off the stresses of the day.
I know I’ll go back to being disciplined and five-weekly gym sessions once this is all over – but for now, looking forward to a little tipple gets me through.
Meanwhile, Brits know barely anything about wine – despite quaffing a mad number of bottles a week.
And this couple faked their public engagement – just so they could get free drinks!
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