Healthy Tahoe: Alternatives to stress drinking |

Healthy Tahoe: Alternatives to stress drinking

Nancy Laurenson, MSc, NBC-HWC
Nancy Laurenson

Those “quarantini” jokes going around social media highlight an important behavioral coping strategy: in challenging times our alcohol consumption tends to spike.

As the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID-19-pandemic bring stress and uncertainty into our lives, alcohol might seem like it’s relieving some anxiety, however, it can actually do the opposite, and increase our likelihood to become more stressed, or trigger emotional or mental health issues such as depression.

Survey data from Barton Health’s most recent community health needs assessment reports alcohol abuse is one of the most common health issues in our area. As our community addresses the implications from the coronavirus, coming up with creative solutions to tackle alcohol over consumption are equally important.

When concerns or stress trigger an urge for something boozy, try these three healthier, alternate approaches:

Get outside, experience being in nature

Engage your senses with a brisk walk in nature or around your neighborhood. Invite members of your household to join you, or enjoy brief moments of quiet, depending on what you need. Remember to use best practices in social distancing when in public.

Express gratitude

Reflect on something you’re grateful for. Whether it’s a roof over your head, living in Lake Tahoe, or having food on the table; practicing gratitude helps us find tolerance and compassion. Perhaps start a gratitude journal to be reminded of the blessings or silver linings in your life.

Offer connection

Take some time to connect with those you care about. However you wish to communicate, by social media, a phone call, or a text – reach out. Alternatively, you can offer to help an elderly neighbor, or someone who could use an extra hand. Those whom you reach out to will be glad to hear from you.

Another yummy alternative is this refreshing non-alcoholic drink. Give it a try, and cheers to your health.

Lemon Lime Mocktail

Getting sour on stress-drinking? Mix up this refreshing lemon lime cocktail alternative. As household supplies might vary during shelter in place, you can experiment with sparkling water, or other fresh citrus and herbs, depending on what you have on hand:

1 whole lime

1 whole lemon

Handful fresh mint (optional)

2 cups water (or sparkling water)

1-3 tsp honey or agave nectar, depending on sweetness


Fill two 8-ounce glasses with crushed ice and add half the honey or agave nectar to each cup. Cut your lemon and limes in half and use the juice of half the lemon and half the lime in each glass.

This recipe is tart, so cut this juice portion to meet your needs.

Once you have added your lemon and lime juice and divided into the glasses, add in your fresh mint and a couple of lemon and lime slices. Top with fresh or sparkling water, and use a spoon to stir the mocktail until the honey or agave nectar is combined.

Nancy Laurenson, MSc, NBC-HWC is a Wellness Navigator and Health Coach with Barton Health.

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