How to deal with stress without alcohol?
If you find it hard to deal with stress and anxiety without alcohol here are the top 8 things you can start doing today:
- Spend time with your pet
- Listen to music
- See friends
- Keep a gratitude journal
In the rest of this post we will explain in more depth how to deal with stress without alcohol and give you some ideas that you can start implementing right now.
Do you find yourself saying “I need a drink” when dealing with a stressful situation? Whether it’s money worries or a particularly bad day at the office, we often turn to alcohol to help us de-stress. Alcohol lowers our heart rate and breathing, which can help us to feel more relaxed but over time it can exacerbate anxious feelings and cause more stress than it relieves. When you take a break from drinking, it’s important to learn how to manage your stress levels, particularly if you’ve relied on booze to unwind in the past.
Here are eight things you can do to cope with a stressful day:
Meditation involves deliberately focusing your attention inwards. You can use a guided meditation, repeating a mantra, or simply focusing on your breathing. Taking deep, deliberate breaths is one of the best antidotes to the body’s natural response to stress. Breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds and then exhale through your mouth. It should take you about twice as long to exhale as it does to inhale. You can also try repeating a mantra or positive affirmations like “I am safe” or “I am worthy” to help shift your perception and lift your mood.
Getting up and moving around is not just good for your heart, it’s good for your head. A 15 minute walk at lunch time or a yoga class can really help alleviate tension. Exercise reduces the stress hormones in the body such as cortisol and adrenaline, and it simultaneously produces endorphins which act as a mood booster. Studies have shown that even brief amounts of physical activity can have a really positive effect on stress.
3/ Spend time with your pet
Research has shown that playing with and petting animals decreases stress levels in the same way that exercise does. Pets can be there for us in ways that people can’t. They can offer love and companionship, keep secrets and enjoy comfortable silences. Stroking a cat or playing with your dog decreases the production of stress hormones like cortisol, lowers blood pressure and increases the production of stress-reducing hormones like oxytocin.
4/ Listen to music
Many people have their go-to songs for stress relief and zoning out. Music can help you to take your mind to another place. You might also find it relaxing to listen to the melodic sounds of the rainforest, bird calls or falling rain.
The world-renowned Mayo Clinic recommends laughter as a positive form of stress relief. Laughter activates and relieves your stress response, increases your endorphins and helps to soothe tension. Find a few simple items like photos, greeting cards or comic strips that make you chuckle – then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies, books, magazines or comedy shows on hand for when you need a humour boost. Find a way to laugh about your own situation and watch your stress fade away.
6/ See friends
Just because you’ve taken the alcohol out of your plans, doesn’t mean that an alcohol-free happy hour can’t be stress relieving – especially when you are with the right people. Often isolation or a sense of being disconnected, leads us to feel stressed or overwhelmed. Recognising that you are not alone, and that there are others in the world who can support you, goes a long way to relieve stress. The old adage, a problem shared is a problem halved is very true. The best way to beat stress is to share your feelings – and sharing with someone in the same situation as you, often yields the best results.
7/ Keep a gratitude journal
Taking a few minutes each day to think about the things in your life that you are grateful for can change your perspective on life for the better. Sometimes when we are stressed or anxious, part of what blocks our efforts at healing is that we forget what’s helped us before. When we look back over our notes and remember something that gave us peace or made us laugh, it helps to calm us down. It’s like writing our very own, deeply personal self-help guide.
Make sleep a priority. When we have a good night’s sleep, our capacity to cope with stress is far better than when we’ve slept badly. Giving up alcohol should help your sleep patterns, but try to avoid caffeine and nicotine at night, and daytime napping.
Whilst some of these activities might take practise, it is worth providing yourself with the proper tools to deal with stressful situations, as approaching these with a clear frame of mind can make all the difference. We hope you enjoyed this blog post and now you feel like you can start taking your first steps towards “how to deal with stress without alcohol?”.