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How to Relax Without Alcohol

7 Ways to Relax Without Alcohol

Many people drink alcohol to relax. 

Alcohol is a depressant. Consuming it can also act as a coping mechanism. Many people use it as a tool to self-medicate or numb anxiety, anger, and physical pain.

But using alcohol in this way isn’t healthy or safe.

While an occasional drink won’t cause much harm to the average person, using alcohol as an emotional crutch becomes risky.

The good news is there are plenty of other things you can do to relax without alcohol.

1. Engage in Hobbies

Finding a hobby you enjoy is one of the best tools to help you relax. Hobbies distract you from stress, soothe your anxiety, and in some cases, provide an opportunity to socialize.

Some of the most popular hobbies that allow you to relax include:

  • Reading
  • Crafts
  • Golf and other sports
  • Cooking or baking
  • Watching movies
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2. Try Deep Breathing

Breathing is something you do automatically without thinking about it. 

When it comes to relaxation, you can breathe mindfully. Mindful breathing focuses on breathing deeply to relax your mind and body.

If you’d like to establish a deep breathing practice, commit to doing it for 5 to 20 minutes at least once a day. 

To start, sit or lay comfortably in a quiet, comfortable environment. Breathe in through your nose and pull the air into your belly. 

Hold it for a few seconds and then breathe out slowly through your nose. Repeat this cycle slowly and notice how your body relaxes with each breath.

3. Meditate

Meditation is one of the world’s most popular relaxation tools.

Meditating can be challenging when you first begin, but with practice, it’s effective for dealing with a wide range of mental and physical issues. 

If you struggle to meditate or are new to the practice, consider using video or audio recordings for guidance.

In addition to helping you relax without alcohol, meditation is also effective in dealing with anxiety, depression, and many other mental health disorders. 

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4. Reduce Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is a stimulant. It helps you feel awake and energized, but it can also trigger anxiety.

Some people even experience increased blood pressure, anxiety, and heart palpitations after consuming caffeine. 

If you feel anxious or jittery after consuming caffeine and you turn to alcohol to ease these feelings, consider giving up caffeine or reducing your intake. 

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5. Practice Yoga or Other Exercises

Exercise is extremely beneficial. It improves your overall health. It’s also a great tool for managing stress. 

Yoga is one type of exercise that can help you relax. 

Many people consider yoga even more beneficial than other forms of exercise. This is because the practice combines physical movement, deep breathing, and mindfulness. 

6. Spend Time in Nature

Getting in touch with nature is one of the most beneficial ways to relax without alcohol. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve gone outside for a walk, try it the next time you feel anxious. You can walk while listening to music or a podcast, or walk in silence. 

Some people find engaging in activities in nature to be helpful. For example, hiking, fishing, birdwatching, and skiing are all outdoor activities that relieve stress. 

7. Indulge in Self-care

Self-care is a popular term used to describe a wide variety of activities. In general, it applies to things you do to make yourself feel better and improve your health. 

What qualifies as self-care varies from person to person. Some of the most common self-care practices include:

  • Bubble or herbal hot baths
  • Massages
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Cleaning your space
  • Going to bed earlier than usual
  • Eating a favorite meal

One method of self-care that people sometimes overlook is self-education

Learning more about your desire to drink alcohol can help you understand your motivation to drink when you feel stressed. You can make positive changes and create a plan for how to relax without alcohol.

Signs of Addiction & Ways to Get Sober 

If you suspect your alcohol consumption might be problematic or is developing into alcohol addiction, consider the following symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD):

  • Trying to limit or quit using alcohol without success 
  • Spending increasing amounts of time drinking or recovering from drinking 
  • An inability to control the amount of alcohol consumed
  • Neglecting school or work obligations 
  • Failing to quit using alcohol despite physical, social, or interpersonal problems
  • Giving up social life, activities, and hobbies in favor of drinking
  • Obsessing over the next opportunity to drink 

How Can You Get Sober?

There are several steps you can take if you want to stop drinking

You can:

  • Speak to your primary care physician
  • Attend a 12-step meeting or join a peer support group
  • Ask loved ones to assist you
  • Contact an alcohol rehab center for information about enrollment
  • Begin therapy to help you identify why you drink and how you can avoid the temptation
  • Focus on proper nutrition and your overall well-being to improve your overall mental and physical health

If you believe you’ve developed a problem, speak to your doctor about treatment options. 

What are the Benefits of Sobriety?

Living a sober life offers many benefits. For example:

No More Hangovers

You’ll never lose a morning or entire day to feeling bad after drinking too much.

Less Exposure to Toxins

Alcohol is filled with toxins. 

It’s one of the reasons why you feel horrible after drinking too much. Your organs have to work harder to flush these toxins from the body.

Not drinking alcohol means your liver, kidneys, and intestines will be healthier.

Healthier Skin

Alcohol is dehydrating, which causes temporary and permanent issues with your skin. Long-term heavy drinking tends to make people look older than they are.

Giving up alcohol means your skin will be healthier, and you’ll look your best.

Better Sleep

People sometimes make the mistaken assumption that alcohol helps you sleep. 

This isn’t true - sobriety improves the quality of your sleep and allows you to build a more consistent sleep routine.

Increased Energy

Alcohol is a depressant. That’s why it can feel as if it helps you relax. Although the relaxation you feel might seem pleasant, drinking zaps your energy. It makes you drowsy and interferes with your quality of sleep. 

When you stop drinking, your energy levels will return to normal.

Dietary Changes

People tend to make poor food choices when they drink. 

Avoiding alcohol usually correlates with an improved overall health.

Most people who give up alcohol end up making better overall food choices. One positive health change serves as the foundation for more positive choices that improve overall health, including your diet. 

Mental Health Improvements

Although people drink alcohol to alleviate mental health issues, it’s rarely an effective solution.

No longer drinking allows you to think clearly and address mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Instead of masking the symptoms of mental health problems, you’ll have the opportunity to tackle them with a clear mind.

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Updated on March 24, 2022
5 sources cited
  1. Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 14 Sept. 2011. 
  2. CDC. “CDC - Fact Sheets-Alcohol Use and Health - Alcohol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018.
  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).” Nih.gov, 2017.
  4. Harvard Health Publishing. “Relaxation Techniques: Breath Control Helps Quell Errant Stress Response - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health, 13 Apr. 2018.
  5. NIMH» Home.” Nih.gov, 30 Jan. 2020. NIMH» Substance Use and Co-Occurring Mental Disorders.” www.nimh.nih.gov, Mar. 2021.

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