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  • Writer's pictureCoralee Shaman

This is your skin on booze

Just when some of us started to get our mojo back by going to the gym and maintaining a regular schedule, the third wave came in like a wrecking ball. Once again, we’ve got to find ways to cope without the gym or a BBQ in the backyard with our people.

The variants do not mess around. Right now, the B117 coronavirus variant is the dominant strain in Manitoba. It has caused a significant spike in cases. To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the strain on the health-care system, the Manitoba Government has implemented strict new health orders.

Parents are scrambling to deal with kids’ transitioning to remote learning, small business owners don’t know if they can survive yet another lockdown, and we’re cut off from our friends and family. The circumstances could drive a teetotaler to drink!

Some Canadians are coping with the stress and uncertainty by drinking more. The Canadian Centre on Substance and Addiction commissioned a study about pandemic alcohol and cannabis use. Nanos conducted the poll and found that 25 per cent of Canadians aged 35-54 are drinking more while at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They cited lack of a regular schedule, stress and boredom as the main reasons for increased alcohol consumption.

Full disclosure: I poured myself daily cocktails during the first lockdown when I was not working. I kept up with my workouts, but cocktail hour started coming earlier and earlier. There were days the cocktail hour was day drinking. My daughter and I joked about it, but we both knew we had to rein it in for our psychological and physical health.

I also reined it in because my skin lost its glow. A drink a few times a week will not adversely affect skin quality, but two or three drinks every day will take a toll.

So, this is what can happen to your skin on a steady diet of booze. For starters, alcohol is a diuretic. When you’re dehydrated, your body tries to hold onto fluids. Your face may look lax and puffy after a night of imbibing. The good news is that plenty of water and good nutrition can restore your electrolytes and your skin will bounce back.

If drinking too much becomes a regular occurrence, your quality of sleep will be affected. Important physiological processes happen when you sleep. Your immune system programs itself and your brain hangs information on cognitive hooks and defrags. Alcohol can impede those processes.

Alcohol can also stimulate a deluge of free radicals. Our bodies work hard to process alcohol, diverting oxygen and blood flow away from our skin. Our skin may develop extra blood vessels to compensate, which is why hard drinkers often have broken blood vessels around their noses. There are graver health risks, such as cirrhosis of the liver and certain types of cancer.

The pandemic is stressful and frightening; it’s difficult to find balance and maintain a healthy sense of self. My coping strategies include: finding the humour in situations whenever possible, deep breathing through the nose, working out (no matter what!), and getting down at solo dance parties. Airpods in and dance!

Friends, the situation is probably going to get worse before it gets better, but we will come out on the other side. As always, I’m here for you.

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