Snapshot: Breaking the bad habits of lockdown

Casey Bennett with her boys.

A new survey has found many Australians wished they had consumed less alcohol during the lockdown period, with one Melbourne mum sharing her own experience.

The survey from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation of 1000 Australians aged 18-65 found nearly 20 per cent of people want to reduce the amount of alcohol they’ve been consuming recently.

It comes as the foundation launches a new campaign Break the Habit, showing that it takes 66 days on average to form a habit, roughly similar to the length of the first lockdown.

Habit formation expert from the University of Melbourne, Professor Terry Bowles, said many of us may have picked up new habits.

“The COVID-19 experience will have taught people different things, but for almost all of us, it has shown than we can quickly change our daily routines,” he said.

“That means the things we have been doing during isolation that we maybe didn’t do before, such as increased levels of exercise or an earlier bedtime, will be easy to keep doing.

“Similarly, if we started or expanded on unhelpful or unhealthy behaviours in isolation, such as increased alcohol consumption, we may find it hard to revert back to pre-isolation levels.”

Mum of three Casey Bennett picked up a new habit during Victoria’s first lockdown.

“I normally only have a glass of wine on the weekend, but when the first lockdown started, I noticed I started pouring a glass of wine with dinner on weekdays.

“I told myself at first that it was a “reward” for getting through home-schooling three children aged under 10.

“Before I knew it, I was “rewarding” myself almost every evening.

“It was always just one glass, but it all adds up.”

It was then Casey realised there was no wine left in the house one Wednesday evening, that she knew she’d been drinking more.

“It was then I realised how much more alcohol I’d been going through than normal,” she said.

“Since then I’ve made a conscious decision to go back to my usual routine of only having a drink on the weekends.

“Immediately my sleep improved and ironically I now have more energy.”

Alcohol and Drug Foundation CEO Dr Erin Lalor said people were looking for different ways to cope.

“The longer a habit is left to form, the harder it can become to change.

“If you want to reduce the amount of alcohol you’ve been drinking recently, you are not alone. Our new data shows overall, around one in five of us want to cut back.

“Half of the people who told us they drank more during this time said they want to reduce how much they’re drinking.

“The good news is there’s lots of practical support available right now on how to change behaviour. Even small steps such as introducing alcohol free days into your week, or having one less drink a day, can have a powerful impact.”

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