30 Things to do instead of drinking. When you first quit drinking or even when you are just thinking about it, you might feel overwhelmed at the thought of all that time stretched out in front of you and what to do with it.
I remember wondering what on earth I would do for a whole weekend, two full days that wouldn’t be spent drinking, what to do instead of drinking?
The problem when we spend so much time drinking, thinking about drinking and recovering from drinking is that when we remove it, there is any empty space to fill. It is not just about getting through cravings but also when we no longer drink, we wonder what it is that we actually like to do. I had no clue what I was going to do instead.
To be fair, I spent an awful lot of time in the beginning walking and sitting on the sofa with tea and chocolate, but there are of course so many more things to do instead of drinking, better things, fun things, soul nourishing and enriching things.
Gradually I began exploring new activities and in the process saw that there is a whole other world out there, a beautiful one, an inspiring one, a world filled with so much growth, healing, joy and fun. I started doing things I never imagined and I still do many of them today.
For some fun and inspiration here is a list of 30 things to do instead of drinking
Go for a walk.
This has to be top of my list, there are so many benefits to walking, spiritually, physically and emotionally. My dogs had their butts walked off in the early days of my sobriety and it got me through many a craving.
Read a book.
Again a saving grace for me in my early days of quitting drinking and something I had sadly neglected when I was drinking. It is no fun reading with one eye closed with the book held out at arm’s length watching the words swim across the page. Reading about other people’s journey to sobriety is also a huge comfort and inspiration.
Yoga is my go-to in the winter when I need to move but it is too cold outside. I love any type of yoga and have recently discovered Kundalini yoga, which is a whole other world waiting for me to explore. You can go to a class or put a YouTube video on and feel the stress leave your body and mind.
If you miss the ritual of drinking then buy yourself a teapot and have fun experimenting with flavours and infusions. I am still very much a Yorkshire Tea girl but do enjoy trying new herbal infusions and of course, the many benefits that come with drinking something calming and soothing.
A lockdown activity you are all probably familiar with! There is nothing quite like the smell and taste of homemade bread, cakes, biscuits pies, cookies……..
Go to the beach
If you are lucky enough to live close to the sea then take an afternoon out and walk along the sand, dip your toes in the sea, hunt for seaglass or explore the rock pools. I love going to the beach in winter followed by fish and chips. I think a trip to the UK is on the cards!
Go on a nature trail
Wherever you live, find a nature spot and go on a nature trial. See how much wildlife you can spot and maybe bring some small items of nature back with you to bring the outdoors in. I love collecting pinecones with my kids, well, the little one anyway!
Go wild swimming
Something I’ve not tried as I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold water but I understand that this is a very invigorating and often life changing experience. Check out your local area for safe places to go and there might even be a group you can join to enjoy this with other people.
Have a luxurious bath
If you like your water warm and full of bubbles then treat yourself to a lounge in the bath. Light a candle, fill the water with glorious scents and soak away your troubles for an hour or so.
Learn to meditate
One of my clients has literally transformed her days and her life through meditation. She was reluctant at first so we started gently and now it is her top tool for sobriety. There are so many wonderful apps and resources out there if you have never done it before and the benefits of meditation are so far reaching you will wonder how you lived without it. Even my ten year old is a fan and I can see such a change in him. What will it do for you?
Have a nap
Oh the joy of taking 20 minutes out of your day and having a little nap. Rest is hugely important and when things get too much, lie down, close your eyes and drift off for a while. Try to nap for no more than twenty minutes and you will wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
Turn your bedroom into your sanctuary
It is important to have a warm, loving space that you can go to which you don’t associate with drinking and that makes you feel good. Try changing your bedroom around, invest in some lovely bed linen, declutter your space, make is smell gorgeous with essential oils so you can escape and relax. Having a lovely bedroom will also help hugely with your sleep. Read this blog post for more tips on sober sleep.
Take up knitting
Not my thing personally but there is a whole world of knitters out there, many of them sober. One of my first interviews was with ‘the sober knitter’ and this pastime is so soothing and calming, plus it gives you something better to do with your hands than lifting glass after glass to your lips, and you end up with a beautiful creation to love afterwards.
Another popular activity is gardening. There is nothing more satisfying than filling your outside space with colour and life. Even if you don’t have an outside space to work with you can still grow a whole manner of things in pots on your windowsill, balcony or terrace.
Explore your creative side
Many people tell me that being sober has allowed their creative side to emerge. The old thinking that drinking makes you creative is just not true, you need discipline and clarity of mind to really allow the ideas to flow and come out. So, grab your pen, paint brush, pencil or musical instrument and let your creativity spill out.
Learn something new
Have you ever wanted to try something new like a skill, hobby or pastime but found that drinking got in the way? This is probably one of the most productive and satisfying things to do instead of drinking. Make the most of your new found energy and the extra time and do that thing you have always wanted to do.
Go to bed. Early
One of my favourite things to do instead of drinking! Going to bed early and having a soothing evening routine will help so much with your sleep and it feels a bit luxurious to crawl under the covers when you would otherwise be propped up in front of the telly. Take your book or journal, do a meditation or some bedtime yoga. You can sleep peacefully in the knowledge that you are nourishing your body and soul with some gorgeous rest and restoration. You will also wake up the next day feeling fabulous!
Play a board game
Except Monopoly of course! One of the best things about not drinking is that we get to have some proper family time together and occasionally I do allow a board game of some sort to take over the evening. Jenga is always fun and I never laugh so hard as I do when we play Accentuate. Battleship is tolerated for one round only as I get very anxious but you can forget dominoes I’m afraid.
Be a tourist in your town
Instead of sitting in your own little world, why not get out and about and explore your local area (current climate allowing of course!) I bet there is so much you haven’t discovered yet about where you live. Visit the parks, the museums, galleries and theatres. Find the hidden coffee shops, the bakeries, the small out of the way places you never knew existed. Get out and about, be curious, explore and you might be surprised at what you find.
Do a cloud meditation
Remember trying to spot animals and other shapes in the clouds when you were a kid? Take some time out, grab a blanket or your yoga mat and lie back and watch the sky. Looking at the clouds as they move and shift shapes is such a relaxing activity to do and will help to bring some calm and quiet to your day.
Declutter your wardrobe
There is something very satisfying and therapeutic about going through your clothes and having a good old clear out. Only keep what you absolutely love and donate the rest to charity or even sell on Ebay for some extra cash. Now is the time to let go of the past, old clubbing clobber included!
It is hugely rewarding to give back to your community in whatever way you can. Donate your old clothes to a shelter or take some food along to your local food bank. Spend time with others who are also recovering from addiction or visit a women’s shelter to offer an ear and some support.
Writing is very cathartic in whichever form you choose. Write in your journal, start a blog, get your thoughts down on paper and out of your head. In the Transform program we journal every single day and the process has such positive and healing effects.
Talk with a friend, talk with a loved one, talk with a stranger or talk to me. When we are alone and unable to express our feelings, or share our worries, doubts, fears, hopes or dreams it can be so easy to find solace and company at the bottom of a glass. Reach out to someone, anyone and I promise you will feel a whole lot better.
One thing that being sober has taught me is to be grateful and appreciate what I have every single day. A practice of gratitude allows you to see that actually, there is a lot to be thankful for, not least your health. Spend some time every day and write down five things that you are grateful for, focus on the little things like your coffee in the morning or waking up without a hangover and you will see that life is worth living and sobriety is the gift that will give you your life back.
Make a vision board
Allowing yourself to dream and be excited for the future is one of the joys of sobriety and something to keep coming back to again and again. Let your imagination go wild and think about what it is that you really want to do with this second chance at life. Connect to the feelings and create a vision board full of images and words that represent your dreams.
It is no secret that exercise is good for you on all levels. Exercise is also a great way to beat cravings and boost your happy hormones. Find something that you love and try and dedicate 30 minutes a day and get your body moving. Whether you want to try spinning, weightlifting, running or pilates, commit to your practice and watch the benefits roll in!
Listen to a podcast
Along with reading and watching films and documentaries podcasts were a great source of comfort for me when I was trying to get through the early days of sobriety and there are so many to choose from! I have my own podcast too which is full of inspiring stories of people who decided to take the step to an alcohol free life. Listen to one today and be inspired.
Cook a fabulous meal
Admittedly, I swapped drinking with eating, especially at the start of my sober journey and rediscovered my love of cooking. I find it very soothing and there is nothing better than enjoying a home cooked pan of warming nourishing broth on a cold day or creating a bright, healthy colourful dish that the whole family can enjoy together. I now enjoy the preparing, making and of course eating of delicious food instead of getting distracted with drinking and then being too drunk to enjoy what I made.
Make a list of things you want to do with the extra time and money
My list is just a starting point for you to give you some ideas. I’d love for you to take some time and come up with your own ideas of what it is you’d like to do instead of drinking and share them in the comments below. I am so excited to see what you will do!
If you are ready to see just how much life there is on the other side of drinking then join me for three months in my group coaching program, Transform. Transform your drinking, transform your life.