Relax Without Drinking… Yes, It’s Possible
If you ask most people why they enjoy alcohol, they’ll probably say it helps them relax.
In fact, some people rely on alcohol so much that they don’t really know how to relax without it.
Lucky for you, you don’t have to be one of them.
Quitting alcohol can be hard work, but the benefits surely outweigh the early discomfort.
While winding down after a long day takes more effort than knocking back your favorite spirits, the effects last far longer and are all positive. Read on for 8 effective ways to really relax now that you’re sober.
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1. Get Physical
Exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous to have stress-relieving benefits. In as little as 10 minutes, walking outdoors in fresh air or getting bendy with light yoga can go a long way in loosening your body and helping you relax.
Furthermore, physical activity may help reduce cravings. The rewarding feeling you get after exercise may act as an alternative to the mixed results from drinking. Even if this isn’t the case for you, when you crave, doing anything else for any length of time is time that you aren’t drinking, allowing the craving to pass.
2. Write Your Heart Out
When we say we want a drink to “relax”, sometimes it helps to think about what wound us up in the first place. Drinking to calm down after stressful or negative circumstances rarely helps. It is highly avoidant. If something is bothering you, writing your thoughts and feelings out may help. I recommend getting a really cute journal, like this one. Sometimes what you need is to release your thoughts and face them, not attempt to smother them.
This is why I extol the virtues of starting a sobriety blog. Whether public or private, it’s a brilliant way to relax, release your feelings, and also have something to look back on when you are further along your path.
3. Phone A Friend
Sometimes what we really need when we want to relax is to get things off our mind completely. Alcohol is great for that, but if you are on this page, you already know it is an unhealthy distraction for you. Phoning or visiting a friend is a much healthier alternative.
Spending time connecting with others is one of the best things you can do. You know that crazy friend who always has some insane drama going on? Call her… she’ll have you either laughing in tears or thanking heavens for your tiny problems!
4. Take Care Of Your Body
Engaging in physical self-care is a great way to relax. It may sound like little stuff, but taking extra time to groom yourself can be incredibly soothing. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. Deep-conditioning your hair, trimming your nails or even flossing your teeth can all be little things that have a big impact. Being mindful of yourself and boosting your self-care is great for quieting your mind and relaxing without alcohol.
5. Create Something
Drinking excessively is so destructive. Being constructive and creating something is the exact opposite of that and is incredibly relaxing. In 11 Ways To Spend Your Alcohol-Free Time we discussed tapping into your creative energy as a fun way to kill some time. This same thing can give you the mental escape alcohol used to give. Even if you’re not super-creative, you could still do something like color in one of those awesome adult coloring books that were so popular a couple years ago. Try it!
6. Practice Gratitude
This sounds new-agey and I get it… if you’re not that type it’s like “what the heck”? But it really works.
I have a gratitude journal where I only write positive things I’m grateful for. Making this a regular practice has helped calm my mind a lot.
It gets really good once you’ve been doing it a while because then you have this huge vault of positive things that are all true in your life to look back on.
Sometimes instead of writing in the gratitude journal, I sit back and read it. And wow… just all those beautiful things that I know are true and real for me? I instantly get all of the feels and want to really be present in that amazing moment. It WORKS.
7. Make A Delicious Non-Alcoholic Beverage
In How To Stay Sober On Vacation, I suggested keeping your hands occupied so you don’t feel like they need to be occupied. This works for any time you need to relax as well. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of mocktails. I think they’re often sugary or caloric. But I love tea, smoothies, sparkling beverages and things like that.
If you’re interested in cocktails, why not try a new mocktail recipe? Or make yourself a delicious cup of tea. Many of us in recovery buy La Croix by the caseload.
There’s reason for that. Shit’s bomb.
8. Take A Long Bath
I know this sounds super basic, but really it’s not. See, I’m an advocate of long special baths. Since I quit drinking I’ve saved a ton of money on alcohol, dining out, and bad, expensive decisions. The way I see it, I owe it to myself to pamper it up! So… bath bombs. Luscious, luxurious, lathery bath bombs like this excellent choice. And scented candles too.
It’s so heavenly and beyond relaxing to soak in something so silky and wash the day away. You really, really deserve that if you’re doing something so powerful as giving up alcohol!
So Many Ways To Relax Without Drinking Alcohol
While there are many, many more ways to relax without alcohol I think just focusing on a few big ones to start is a great idea. As you progress in sobriety you’ll find your own little groove. And honestly, while sobriety doesn’t fix or change everything, genuinely learning to cope with bad days and relax overall will serve you well. You’ll find that you are more relaxed and upbeat in general.
A well-circulated quote among the sober is “my worst day sober is better than my best day drunk”. With time, this will likely hold true for you as well.
Just keep going.