Five o’clock used to mean something: It was once the symbol of the culturally acceptable moment to leave the office, maybe grabbing a drink for happy hour at your local watering hole on the way home. But with both the office and the bar now synonymous with our couch and kitchen, five o’clock is meaningless.
And what of the other fun activities that being physically stuck at work may have prevented you from doing, like smoking weed or masturbating? Must we continue to pretend we’ve just returned from a long day on the job to enjoy these, as well?
I’m pleased to say, no.
Obviously, your alcohol and marijuana consumption, as well as your masturbation habits, are probably somewhat determined by your current quarantine situation. Some are still required to leave the home for work, while some of us are newly working from home or currently unemployed. Drinking and smoking can lower your immune system, too, which we might want to avoid if we’re required to go out in public. Then there’s the issue of those with kids at home — any small amount of time freed up by the lack of commute has been annihilated by the fact that childcare on top of their daily workload is now their 24/7 responsibility. Many of us might be cooped up with partners or roommates. Still, it doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in a drink/smoke/orgasm now and then.
What the Experts Say
The acceptable time to start partaking in our vices depends a lot on what they are. It can get even more specific with alcohol and weed, the effects of which can vary widely. “The question is, drink what? Mimosas and Bloody Marys have always been accepted as morning drinks,” says Adam, 38, a sommelier in Tampa. “I’ve been drinking Txakolina as a day drink for the last year or so. It’s a low alcohol semi-sparkling wine out of Basque. I think that you can start drinking whenever, but the game is to play it low and slow so you don’t get too drunk before your day is done.”
Still, you’ll probably get more of a pass for taking shots of whiskey during the day now than you would have outside of quarantine. “Anytime is acceptable to start drinking,” a staff member of L.A. Italian restaurant Osteria la Buca (which currently offers takeout cocktails) tells me via Instagram. “It’s all just one long day/night.”
Either way, you’ll probably remain capable of getting your work done just fine after a glass or two of wine, ditto with beer (or even, perhaps, a shot and a half of hard liquor, which the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says is roughly equivalent), but exactly how it impacts you will depend a lot upon your body. This chart, from Texas’ Criminal Justice Division, details how many drinks a person can consume based on their body weight before their driving becomes impaired. If you’re on the clock, then, you probably want to stay in the green zone. Plus, per Harvard Health Publishing, drinking during the hours during which we might already feel sleepy, like midafternoon, can make us even more fatigued, so prepare for that.
As with alcohol, weed and its effects vary. Some people can take dabs all day and complete their job just fine, whereas I need to be hospitalized at the mere suggestion of consuming a single THC molecule. But if you’re more accustomed to smoking, the bigger question is what exactly you’re smoking. The right strain can, allegedly, potentially help you be productive, either by giving you more energy or by easing your anxiety. Why allegedly? Because the real differences between strains are generally wayyy less than your average budtender would have you believe.
In any event, establish your familiarity with the various strains you smoke beforehand if you have things you need to accomplish, and go with what works for you. On a day with no obligations, smoking weed at any hour is fine — and if you find that a certain strain has its desired effect on you, perhaps you can partake when you have a to-do list.
Masturbation, on the other hand, can be more of a free-for-all. A quick jack session might even be just the break you need to better do your work. According to certified sexologist and psychologist Shannon Chavez, masturbation is good for our productivity on a number of levels. “It can help increase productivity by releasing stress and tension,” she says. “It can boost self-esteem and motivation by releasing hormones in the brain that are connected to mood and emotional regulation. It’s also a form of self-love and body appreciation. Masturbation makes you feel good about yourself. It’s a mental and physical workout that regulates the body and nervous system.”
Though many people may ordinarily wait until the end of the day to masturbate, doing so in the middle of the day can be more fun. “Changing it up to the middle of the day can increase sexual motivation and desire by adding novelty and getting out of a routine,” says Chavez.
Moreover, it can help us work through a creative block. “It can energize the body by improving blood flow circulation and increasing heart rate,” explains Chavez. “It can also help with a creativity block. Mental blocks can be caused by pent up emotions in the body. Many of the emotions we hold in our bellies and pelvic area are connected to responsibility and obligation. Masturbation can release these emotions and help bring balance to the body and mind.”
Basically, masturbating during the workday isn’t just a nice little break, but it can actually help our work performance.
When Vices Are Socially Permissible
Of course, some of us aren’t so concerned about how a vice will impact our productivity. Instead, the bigger question is: Is this socially acceptable? According to 62 people I surveyed via Instagram (scientifically accurate, I know), the rules about what time of day it’s too early to indulge in the few pleasures we have left have definitely eased up, if they aren’t just entirely out the window. Considering their answers and throwing in a dash of my own personal opinion, three in the afternoon marks the time when most people working daytime schedules agree it’s fine to begin indulging in our vices. But even so, the common belief seems to be that in quarantine, you can do whatever the hell you want.
Any rules about the appropriate time to smoke or masturbate are largely gone. Almost everyone agreed, smoking or masturbating whenever is fine. In fact, many stated they do either or both first thing upon waking. “Masturbate and smoke as often as you eat, in four-hour intervals,” suggested Dominique, 25, in Boston.
“I smoke as soon as I wake up,” adds Jade, 25, in Seattle.
“Smoking and masturbating as soon as you wake up is fine,” agrees Tori, 27, in Massachusetts.
Basically, so long as it doesn’t throw off your whole day, there’s nothing wrong with stepping away from the computer for a few minutes to do your thang.
The social rules around drinking are similarly lax, with Dominique citing 1 p.m. as a good time for drinking to begin. “I feel like that’s the prevailing vibe during quarantine,” he says. “Nobody has shit to do besides masturbate, smoke and drink.”
Those of us who do, in fact, still have shit to do, largely cited that whenever they’re finished with work is the time most appropriate for drinking. With many people still working their usual hours, some are holding off from their first drink until 5 p.m. “You can start drinking within 30 minutes of finishing whatever job(s) you have for the day,” says Casey, 29, in Washington D.C. It also might matter what you’re drinking. “12 p.m. for beers, 3 p.m. for spirits,” suggests Carl, 29, in the U.K.
So, maybe keeping it light during the day, rather than going for the Four Loko, is an important thing to distinguish. The general consensus, though, is that most things are permissible under quarantine. We’re all doing what we’ve gotta do to pass the time.
When It’s a Problem
Even if it’s acceptable to drink earlier, you want to avoid developing a problem that might linger after quarantine is over. Per the Mayo Clinic, addiction isn’t dependent upon the hour of the day one consumes a substance. In fact, drinking earlier in the day might be better for your health, as drinking at night can interfere with the quality of your sleep. Instead, a better indicator of a problematic habit is when consuming said substance interferes with your normal activities. Having a drink at noon while you have nothing else to do is no biggie, but if your drinking impacts your ability to do your job or care for your other responsibilities, it might not be a good idea. The same thing is true of weed and masturbation. If they’re interfering with your ability to complete your obligations, they’re becoming a problem.
Right now there may be no rules, but someday those rules will return. If a mimosa and some Pornhub on a Wednesday morning is what it takes to enjoy this quarantine, so be it. Just keep in mind that there will probably be a Wednesday soon enough when these indulgences are no longer allowed.