How to unwind without drinking: When we get to the end of the day, we all need something to help us to let go of the stresses, strains, the busyness and the chatter. There is nothing more satisfying than feeling yourself relax and ease into a place of peace and calm. Usually we do this by drinking.
Alcohol is a depressant so immediately numbs out everything we’re feeling and thinking and you do get that initial relaxing sensation as your body and mind sigh in relief. However, that feeling rarely lasts and we end up chasing that initial soothing feeling that never comes, we drink more and more and end up feeling worse, usually in the middle of the night.
The more we drink, the more we feel the negative effects of alcohol which outdo that moment of stress relief and relaxation we get with the first sip, so how do we unwind without drinking? What else is there and how can we get that glorious feeling as we kick off our shoes and sink into the chair without feeling bad?
The key to learning how to unwind without drinking is to be curious, explore and experiment. When it comes to wine o’clock, what are we really looking for? We think we are using alcohol to relax or unwind but what we are really doing is dulling how we are feeling about the things gone before, the never ending to-do list, the crazy work load, family pressures, demands of our kids and all the other things that come with life.
What we really should be trying to do is to find other healthier, fun ways to feel the way we want to feel!
Awareness is key and if we are going to transform our relationship with alcohol, whether that be to take a break, cut down or stop drinking altogether, we should try and bring in some awareness to our current drinking behavior. What is it we are trying to achieve? And, how else can we do this? Here are some ideas on how we can unwind without drinking.
Do something fun
Making an effort to do something fun, whatever that looks like for you is a fabulous way to relax, unwind and make you feel good. It does take some effort though because it is not as easy as just opening a bottle. However, the rewards and the long term benefits far outweigh the quick fix you get from drinking.
What is fun for you? What would you like to do? Fun family activities are great ways to spend time with your loved ones, boosting your happy hormones, creating memories and savouring moments. Even just going to the park with your kids or playing board games (unless it is Monopoly of course!) are fun, relaxing and entertaining.
What about a new hobby or outdoor activity that you have always wanted to try? They key to not drinking and feeling good about it, is to replace the alcohol and the drinking time with something far more enjoyable, fun and interesting.
I know, I know! I keep going on about exercise but for good reason. Doing some sort of exercise, especially if you can do it outdoors has so many wonderful benefits, not least in sobriety. Exercise is a great way to manage cravings, get out of your head for a while and enjoy being in nature. You can do any kind of exercise you like, it also comes under the ‘fun’ category and you can do it alone or with friends and family.
Plus the benefit of exercise in terms of winding down is that after actively using your muscles, your body will naturally relax, as will your mind. Again, choose something you like and if you haven’t done anything for a while then start small. A brisk walk every morning is a perfect way to begin.
Drinking and mindfulness are complete opposites, most of the time we drink without really thinking about it and often rush through our drinks just to get the end result. However, when you take the time to really be aware and mindful of whatever it is you are doing, you will notice the effects and the results far more. You know what it is like when you are completely absorbed in an activity, are in the flow and don’t realize the time whizzing by and are not distracted by anything else? That is mindfulness and it is deeply relaxing too.
“Exercise is an excellent example of a mindful activity, as is yoga, cooking, knitting, sewing, colouring in, or creating anything”
Exercise is an excellent example of a mindful activity, as is yoga, cooking, knitting, sewing, colouring in, or creating anything. Choose something that brings you joy and you can easily get lost in for a while, this is such a loving way to unwind without drinking.
Actively chill out
Sometimes though, we don’t want to be outside, move our bodies or actually ‘do’ anything. When this happens, just try and chill out, that is to say do something that doesn’t require much energy or thought but still makes you feel good. A great way to do this is to just sit and look out of the window, or light a candle, close your eyes and just take a break.
We are so used to rushing through our days that we hardly ever do ‘nothing.’ Listening to music, reading, doodling, meditation, watching a movie or lying in the bath are lovely, rewarding ways to relax, soothe and unwind without drinking.
While it might be a bit tricky at first to learn what to do instead of just numbing out with wine, you will get better and find more and more ways to unwind without drinking. Yes, drinking might bring you a quick fix, but the negative effects of alcohol have such a far reaching impact on our lives, that that brief moment of relaxation comes at a heavy price.
When I work with women in my one to one coaching program we spend a lot of time exploring, experimenting and getting to the bottom of what it is we are really searching for. It is not enough to just remove the alcohol, but it is a journey into self discovery and awakening.
If your drinking is not relaxing anymore, if your drinking is causing more stress, anxiety and negative chatter then maybe it is time to focus on something else which is more soothing, restorative and nourishing.