Five ways to relax without alcohol

Laurie McAllister | January 2023 | 7 minutes

Alcohol can often become a crutch for relaxation, and lots of us may have found ourselves turning to alcohol during stressful times. Guest blogger Laurie McAllister, who writes the blog Girl and Tonic, shares five of her favourite ways to relax without alcohol.

A question I get asked a lot is how do you relax without alcohol?

In fact, how do I relax without alcohol is a question I asked myself in the months leading up to and my first few months of going booze free. I didn’t drink alcohol every day, but it was a core part of my relaxation routine. Feeling stressed? Glass of wine. Feeling anxious? Glass of wine. Had a bad day? Glass of wine. Had a terrible day? Glass of wine. You get the picture.

Alcohol helps us to self-medicate our minor (and major) issues, and can often become a crutch for relaxation. But the relief we feel is just temporary, and consistently reaching for a drink to help you relax or unwind can be harmful for your health.

There are many ways to relax without alcohol – and waking up after your bad day without a hangover gives you a much better chance of having a good day!

Here are five of my favourite ways to relax without alcohol:

1) Read a good book

Sounds obvious I know but it’s one I often put off in favour of scrolling through my phone. If you can, leave your phone in another room, light a candle and settle down with a good book.

I’ve written a few round ups of books that I love which you can read here – and if you struggle to concentrate on reading, why not try listening to an audiobook instead?

2) Take a long bath

Baths are often my go-to way to relax without alcohol. I recently moved back to my parents’ house and their bathroom is being redone - I have missed being able to have a bath so much!

Turning the taps on, running the bath, using bath oil or bath salts, placing your dressing gown/towel on the radiator so it’s warm when you get out of the bath, lighting a candle and picking out a book or magazine to read – it all adds to the relaxing routine.

3) Get outside and go for a walk

Locate some green space, put your shoes on and go for a walk. Sometimes putting on a podcast or listening to an audiobook as you walk can help to clear your head and enable you to relax without alcohol.

4) Practice yoga or any exercise you enjoy

I’m a yoga teacher so naturally my recommendation for relaxation is going to be yoga, but if yoga isn’t for you then any exercise you enjoy – running or crossfit or anything else – can help you relax and unwind. You can do yoga at home for free. There are lots of online tutorials to help get you started.

I love yoga because it takes me completely out of myself, but running and other forms of exercise do that for other people. Roll out your yoga mat or put on your running shoes for some active relaxation.

5) Meditate

Sometimes when I’m restless or stressed or anxious, the last thing I want to do is meditate. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to do – in fact it probably means I need to do it more.

Getting your bum sat down and focusing on your breathing can help you relax. And in fact, a recent study found that mindfulness helped heavy drinkers to reduce their drinking so it may have a dual purpose on your quest to relax without alcohol.

Check out Girl and Tonic for more tips about being alcohol-free.

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