No matter who you are, life can be stressful. Work, relationships, and finances are just a few common sources of stress that many of us experience on a day to day basis. 

It is unrealistic to think you can rid yourself of all stress in life. Instead, you should aim to manage your stress in healthy ways. 

Unfortunately, many people fall into the trap of using alcohol as a way to cope with their stress. After a long day, a drink might seem really appealing as a way to ‘take the edge off’ of the stress that you are feeling. 

But what seems like a harmless drink can quickly spiral into a dangerous pattern of relying on alcohol to cope with your stress. This pattern leads to alcohol addiction for many people.

Read on to learn about healthy ways to de-stress and unwind after a long day without alcohol.

#1. Meditate

Meditation is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. In the past, meditation had been made to look like something ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’, and only for select people.

Today, people meditate all across the world because of the variety of benefits it can bring. One of mediation’s primary benefits is stress relief.

There are many different forms of meditation and ways to do it. Most types of meditation involve sitting quietly in stillness, and intentionally looking inward. You may find that focusing on your breath or on a ‘mantra’ can help you focus.

Meditation helps to relieve stress by allowing us to see situations clearly and gain a new perspective on them. Sometimes, rather than taking direct action to change a stressor, we just need to step back and clear our minds.

There are countless books, apps, instructional videos, and online guided meditations that can help you get started. An important aspect of meditation is making it a regular practice. Studies have shown that meditating even for a short time every day can bring you a myriad of benefits, including stress relief.

#2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a specific way of orienting yourself in the present moment. It involves paying attention, right here and now, on purpose and without judgment. Mindfulness and meditation go hand-in-hand. 

Many forms of meditation are focused on cultivating mindfulness so that it can be carried with you into your daily life. Mindfulness is all about being present and accepting what comes up in your life, without judging it or trying to change anything.

When it comes to stress relief, mindfulness can be very helpful. Being mindful creates a space between your stressors and your reaction to them. You might find that it is not situations that cause you stress, but your reaction that does. 

Being mindful can help you to avoid drinking as a coping mechanism. By noticing when you feel stressed and learning to sit with that feeling calmly, you can avoid falling into the habit of going for a drink immediately.

#3. Exercise

We think of stress as something that happens in our minds. But people can also hold lots of tension in their bodies. After a long and stressful day at work, going for a run or to the gym might feel like the last thing you want to do.

But movement can be very healing, even for mental tension. Everyone’s body and mind work differently, so you may find that one form of exercise is a better stress-reliever for you than another.

Yoga, for example, has been shown to increase GABA activity in the brain, helping to calm anxiety. A daily yoga practice might do wonders for some people. Others may find that a short run or some time lifting weights at the gym suits them better.

#4. Keep a Journal

Journaling is a great way to organize your thoughts and clear your mind. You can use journaling in many different ways and there are specific journaling techniques that you can try out.

One popular method of journaling is called a gratitude journal. The idea is simple; you take a few minutes each day to write about the things in your life that you are grateful for. This simple exercise can help you shift your perspective and feel less stressed.

You can also use your journal as an outlet for your emotions and thoughts. While it may feel like drinking is a good respite from the difficulty in your life, using alcohol in this way is only likely to make your problems build up and become even worse. Use your pen and paper as your outlet instead, and work through your problems rather than drinking to avoid them.

#5. Spend Time With Friends

People need community. In today’s world, it can feel easiest to just hunker down and spend your free time alone. Particularly if you are in the process of giving up alcohol, you may find that it is difficult to find activities to do with friends that don’t involve drinking.

But it will be well-worth your effort to find some things you can do to socialize without alcohol. Of course, spending time with people is only stress-relieving if they are a good influence on you. But if you are lucky enough to have good friends and family in your life, don’t forget to make time for them.

Feeling alone can lead to feeling overwhelmed, which an induce anxiety. By spending time with others, you can share what’s going on in your life and be reminded that you are, in fact, not alone.

#6. Listen to Music

Most of us have our go-to songs or artists that help us feel better, even in the worst of times. But even on a day-to-day basis, listening to music can help us stay calm and be more at peace

If music doesn’t do it for you, try melodic sounds such as rainforest tracks, falling rain, the ocean, etc. Many of these sounds are proven to help bring a sense of ease. Sitting quietly and listening to relaxing music or soundtracks is a great way to reset and breathe deep after a long day.

#7. Sleep

Last but certainly not least, be sure to get plenty of sleep! Lack of sleep is one of the most common ways that we add stress to our lives. In many cases, people who need sleep the most (those with demanding jobs or other responsibilities) get the least. 

Sleep is essential to give us the ability to cope with stress. You’ve probably experienced how overwhelming life can feel when you are sleep-deprived. Fortunately, this pattern goes the other way, too. Getting a good night’s sleep helps us reset and gives us energy to deal with whatever life throws at us.

It is also worth noting that drinking negatively impacts sleep. This is just one of the many ways that drinking to relieve stress can backfire against you and end up adding to your stress.

Get Help for Alcohol Abuse

Drinking to cope with stress can be a tough pattern to break. Along with the tips in this article, it might be a good idea to get some professional help for your drinking.

Use our directory to search for amazing alcohol treatment centers in your area. Professional alcohol treatment can help you get control over your drinking and learn to find healthier ways to cope.

Sources: 

  1. Top 10 Ways to Eliminate Stress Without Alcohol
  2. The Link Between Stress and Alcohol
  3. How to Reduce Stress Through Mindfulness

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