5 Dry Ways To Relax Without Alcohol
While many people regard alcohol as a viable stress reliever and coping mechanism, its calming effects are only short-term. If stress is prolonged, the momentary positive feelings that come from drinking alcohol do not suffice. Because drinking alcohol to relax is often seen as a socially acceptable concept, misconceptions of its effectiveness are furthered. Longer lasting and higher quality relaxation can be achieved with other activities that do not include the consumption of alcohol.
Here are 5 ways to de-stress without alcohol.
Regular exercise is beneficial to overall wellness regardless of one’s athletic abilities. At base level, exercise triggers several chemical processes that help relieve stress. While stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol decrease, the brain’s mood elevating neurotransmitters known as endorphins increase. These reactions result in what many people call a “runner’s high”. In addition to the endorphins produced, physical activity imitates the effects of stress on the body. This stress simulation allows the body to unconsciously practice processing the corresponding factors. Exercise can also serve as a distraction from normal day-to-day thoughts.
Stress can be decreased even through simple activities like going for a walk, swimming, or biking. It is best to start with easy activities and build up to more strenuous ones if desired.
Spending a little time outside is another way to relax without alcohol. It could be just the prescription needed to reduce stress according to researchers at Cornell University. The study suggests that just 10-50 minutes of time spent in nature can prevent stress, improve mood, and lower blood pressure. Going on a walk or even just sitting in the grass are activities that can be considered time spent in nature. Setting aside time to be outside can also be a good opportunity to put the phone down and disconnect which can also contribute to stress reduction.
In stressful situations, taking a few deep breaths can help de-escalate. Long inhalations communicate to your brain that it needs to relax which in turn lowers increased heart rate and high blood pressure caused by stress. Deep breathing is an art and learning specific exercises can help lower overall stress.
“Belly Breathing” is the first lesson in developing its stress relieving properties. For this exercise, it is important to sit or lie in a comfortable position. Start by placing one hand below the ribs and the other on the chest. When taking a deep breath in, the hand on the chest should not move, and the stomach should push the other hand out. That deep inhale should be let out through pursed lips almost like a whistle while using the hand on the belly to help push it out. For optimal relaxation results, this exercise should be repeated 3-10 times or as many as it takes to feel more relaxed.
Journaling is another way to relax without alcohol. Putting pen to paper is a way to sort out inner thoughts, underlying fears, and normal concerns. It is most effective to journal daily so triggers and patterns can be easily identified and used to develop a stress management plan. Creating a safe space for the expression of feelings while also maintaining a sense of convenience is imperative to making journaling habitual. To achieve this, journals should not follow any specific structure or format. A journal can be a collection of doodles on scrap paper, a leather-bound book, or even the notes app on an iPhone. Content should be topics that best aid self-reflection.
It may sound like a joke but it’s true that laughter has many health advantages. On top of simulating the heart, lungs, and muscles, laughing affects a person’s stress response by causing heart rates to increase and then quickly decrease. This sudden spike and fall of heart rate in tandem with the production of endorphins creates a feeling of ease and relaxation. A few good chuckles can also alter the physical effects of stress by relaxing tension in muscles and triggering circulation. In general, laughing often can improve a person’s mood and overall quality of life.
Seeing a funny movie, playing a board game with friends, or going to see a stand-up comedian are all fantastic outlets for laughter and another way to relax without alcohol.
Get Help Relaxing Without Alcohol
If being relaxed without alcohol is a difficult task for you, your dependence might be unhealthy. Please reach out to a dedicated treatment provider for more help with this topic.
Author: Emily Murray | Last Edited: August 5, 2021