In this blog article, we’re going to explore how to relax without alcohol, whilst defeating stress.
Many drinkers believe that they need alcohol to help them wind down after a long day. They say they use alcohol for stress-relief and relaxation.
We’ll begin by exploring these beliefs in more detail. We’ll look at what happens when people stop drinking alcohol. And then, finally, we’ll discover some practical tips on relaxing and de-stressing without alcohol.
The Alcohol/Stress-Relief Routine
After talking with hundreds of problem-drinkers, the same reasons for drinking come up again and again.
Stress-relief and relaxation are two of the most common reasons given.
The scenario might look something like this:
Wake up hungover from the night before
Go through the ritual of regret and vowing never to drink again
Have a quick shower, get ready for work
Skip breakfast because your stomach can’t handle it
Go to work
Just about manage to get through the morning on coffee
The sickness starts to subside
Manage to eat half of your lunch
Go back to work
Barely hold your focus on the task at hand
Today was a bad day
Get home, exhausted
Feel slightly agitated at home
Forget how bad you felt in the morning
Open a drink, and all of a sudden, the stress and agitation disappears
The drinker now feels relaxed
After going through this routine, the drinker is convinced that alcohol has somehow helped them to relieve stress and relax.
“I’ve had a stressful day of work. I deserve this. It helps me relax.”
And in that brief moment of time, the stress disappears and the drinker feels peaceful.
But, what is really going on here?
Does Alcohol Help With Relaxation and Stress Relief?
The drinker, in the above story, may well have had a legitimately stressful day. The drinker may feel mentally or physically exhausted after a long day of work.
Or, the drinker may be experiencing a legitimately stressful time in their life.
But, we’re currently missing a critical part of the equation.
We first need to ask ourselves these questions:
Why would the drinker almost always turn to alcohol, when there are plenty of other relaxation methods available to them?
Why wouldn’t the drinker occasionally use alcohol for stress relief, but also delve in regular yoga, meditation and massage to relax?
Why is it almost always alcohol that needs to be consumed to relieve the stress?
Well, we need to explore the other side of the equation.
And, what I’m about to say may well surprise you.
It’s all about the craving.
Alcohol, The Craving, and Relaxation
Most drinkers don’t even realize that they have cravings.
When I used to think of a craving, I would often imagine a drug addict who’s shaking and desperate for their next fix. Or, a drug addict begging on the streets so they can go and buy drugs.
And because I had this clear idea in my mind of what a craving was, the vast majority of my cravings would go unnoticed.
Now, just for the record, I’m not talking about withdrawal.
That’s a very different thing, and some people that stop drinking may experience physical symptoms.
I did write a post about quitting drinking cold turkey that can be accessed here if you want to learn more about that.
Alcohol cravings are very different from what we expect.
They aren’t in your face.
This is the exact reason people can drink for 20, 30 even 40 years and still think that they don’t have a problem.
They say they can “take it or leave it”.
This is totally ignoring the fact that they never leave it.
And then they’ll come up with the same excuses for drinking:
“It helps relax me. It helps me destress.”
Well, why is this?
It’s because the craving is almost imperceptible.
It’s not a burning desire where all you need to do is drink alcohol.
It’s more of an empty feeling.
The craving is more a little niggle that never goes away. It feels like something is not quite right.
It feels like there’s something missing.
So, back to our story about the drinker who just got home from a hard day of work wanting to relax…
As soon as the character in our story drinks a drink, the feeling of discomfort disappears. They feel relaxed again.
There’s no doubt about it.
But, what’s actually going on here?
The drinker has some legitimate stress at work and gets through it without alcohol.
However, once the drinker arrives home, there has now been a gap in between his/her last drink.
So, you have that tiny, imperceptible feeling that something is not quite right. This feeling causes some stress and makes it very difficult to relax.
If the drinker doesn’t have a drink, he/she will feel discomfort.
But the drinker drinks a drink, and the feeling of discomfort disappears.
What’s really going on here?
What Happens When People Stop Drinking
In the above instance, alcohol is not helping the drinker relax. In this instance, all alcohol does is relieve the craving caused by alcohol in the first place.
So, contrary to what most people say about alcohol relieving stress – we actually uncover that alcohol is a cause of stress.
It’s a never-ending cycle.
Am I saying that your stress will immediately disappear if you stop drinking? Absolutely not.
What I am saying, on the other hand, is that stopping drinking makes relaxation much easier.
Because you remove the craving. You remove that nagging feeling that makes relaxation difficult in the first place.
Once you have removed alcohol, you no longer need alcohol to relax.
You are able to relax without it.
In other words, once the alcohol has gone, it becomes possible to use more traditional relaxation techniques. Techniques that actually calm you down after a challenging day.
So, the first step to relaxing without alcohol is to stop drinking it.
If you want to learn more about how to stop drinking, I recommend you click here to watch this free training I created.
But for now, let’s talk about some real relaxation techniques once the alcohol has gone.
Free Video Training:
How To Use First Principles Thinking To Get Control Of Your Drinking
How To Relax Without Alcohol
Now, as mentioned, once the alcohol has gone, that doesn’t mean that stress will immediately stop in your life.
Stress is a part of every-day living.
And, for that reason, you need to have tools and techniques to deal with stress when it arises.
The great thing is, once you have stopped drinking, stress becomes much easier to deal with.
I’ve heard countless people that have gotten sober using Soberclear say that they feel as though life becomes much easier to handle.
They say that fog has been lifted from their eyes, and they are able to see things much clearer.
So, normal jobs like work or caring for children, whilst still being stressful, become more manageable.
Relaxation, however, is still important.
Proper relaxation and stress-relief can still be an excellent tool when trying to build a better life without alcohol.
I want to share 3 great ways to relax without alcohol and help you relieve stress.
Whilst I could share the normal things such as going for a walk, going for a massage, and lighting incense, I want to try and remove the problem at its root.
So these 3 things might be a bit different from what you’re expecting.
The first on the list is meditation.
Meditation is a fantastic practice to help you relax without alcohol.
If, for example, you have had a stressful day at work and you arrive home and still feel stressed, meditation can benefit you massively.
Meditation brings awareness to the present moment.
My personal meditation involves setting a timer for 10-minutes, closing my eyes, and focusing on my breath.
Then, you’ll find that your mind will eventually drift off and you’ll start thinking.
The trick to meditation is to allow these thoughts to enter your mind. You bring awareness to the thoughts but don’t attach any emotions to them. Just accept them for thoughts.
Then let go of the thought, and bring your awareness back to your breath.
I’m probably not the most qualified person to teach meditation, so I recommend an app you can download called Headspace.
I believe the first week or so is free, and it’s a great introduction to meditation.
The next relaxation technique is journaling.
Journaling is a great way to get your thoughts down and put them on paper.
If you are able to organise your thoughts and see them laid out in front of you, this can help you see things more clearly.
This can be a great way to relieve stress.
My technique for journaling just involves writing a full page as fast as possible. I just let ideas flow. If I don’t know what to write, I literally write:
“I’m struggling to write today, but…”
And then ideas just come from nowhere.
I don’t allow the pen to come off the page. I just write quickly and whatever is on my mind eventually gets put on paper.
I’ve found journaling to be very effective if I’m dealing with a challenging period in my life.
Seeing my thoughts on a page, and being able to organise the noise helps relieve a lot of stress.
3. Planning Your Day
The final stress reliever is to plan your day. Probably not what you were expecting.
Stress is often the accumulation of tasks. If you have high levels of stress, relaxation is challenging.
So, by planning your day, you’re tackling stress at its root.
You may have heard of this before, but
“Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance”
If you are able to plan your days and make time for the important tasks, stress levels can plummet.
I like to plan my days in the evening and write down everything I have to do.
I like to write out the times for each task, for example:
- 9.00 – 11:30 – write “how to relax without alcohol” post
- 11:30 – 12:30 – edit blog post
- 12:30 – 12:50 – find the images for this blog post
- 12:50 – 13:30 – eat tuna salad and mango smoothie
Having a clear plan for the day, and being able to organise my time, helps me relieve stress massively.
Most people think that alcohol helps them with stress-relief and relaxation
Most people don’t even notice that they’re craving alcohol
One of the best ways to relax without alcohol is to stop drinking it
You can click here for a free training I created to stop drinking alcohol
Three great ways to relax and relieve stress without alcohol include meditating, journaling and planning your day
If you’re looking for a great support group, I recommend you check out the Sober Inspired Pirates Facebook group. You can do so by clicking here.
And let me know which of these tips you will implement in the comment section below.