Many people turn to alcohol use as a way to unwind at the end of the day, deal with hardship or to let loose and have fun. Although alcohol in moderation can be a component of a healthy lifestyle, when it becomes a crutch or interferes with other areas of life, it’s time to find a new way to relax.

Thankfully, there are endless ways to find rest and relief that can replace an alcohol habit. This article will explore how to de-stress and reduce anxiety for a successful recovery.

The key to replacing problematic drinking

The trick is to find something that is both enjoyable and meets whatever need you to use alcohol to address. People use alcohol for numerous reasons – consider your reasons and find activities that offer the same pros without all the negative consequences. 

Check out this chart for examples of why people drink, and the best replacement activities.

Reason to drink Replace it with
A social outlet Sign up for a class at a gym, library or college
Avoiding emotional issues Therapy 
To have fun Join a sports league
To manage physical or emotional pain Spend time with a loved one or volunteer
Gain confidence Exercise

The key to finding ways to de-stress without turning to alcohol is to find activities that you’ll be happy to turn to when the temptation strikes. Choosing a replacement strategy before a high-pressure situation will help you to kick the habit for good.

Ways to de-stress

Here are the top tips for how to de-stress from school, work or life in general without substances.

  • Move your body

Physical activity is an all-around healthy practice that will increase your confidence, improve your mood, decrease the risk of various medical conditions and give you mental clarity. A study published by the American College of Sports Medicine shows that exercise reduces stress not only during a workout but for several hours after too. It also gives you a break from thinking about stressors since you’ll need to focus on the workout.

  • Engage in spiritual practices

Turning to a faith practice can offer individuals comfort and hope and infuse a person’s life with meaning. Your spiritual activities can be ancient or new, a few seconds or hours long, participating in prayer or meditation can offer peace in a busy world.

  • Do a mindless activity

When our jobs and our lives require focused brain-power all day long, doing a monotonous task can offer relief. Whether it’s washing dishes or painting a room, a hands-on, repetitive task can be soothing and even fun.

Gardening, for example, has been shown to decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) and improve our mood. Pulling weeds may seem boring, but that’s the point. The repetitive motions and pleasant surroundings give you a chance to mentally recharge.

  • Go outside

Time in the great outdoors is one of the cheapest, most accessible and enjoyable ways to de-stress. Not only are there a wide variety of outside activities – from hammocking to water skiing – but getting out of the house offers a change of scenery, fresh air, a quiet retreat and the opportunity to explore.

It may be a no-brainer that spending time outside can be good for your overall well-being, but the science backs it up too. A 2020 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that even 10 minutes spent outside daily can reduce depression symptoms and prevent stress. Moreover, vitamin D, which is absorbed through exposure to sunshine, can help in the treatment of mood disorders.

  • Read

There’s nothing like curling up with a good book. An old favorite can bring comfort and a new novel can offer a brief escape from the stress of life. Reading materials are easy to access online, through a library or a local bookstore, and everyone can find reading material suited to his or her personal interests.

There’s proof that it helps, too. A study in the American Journal of College Health found that recreational reading reduced psychological distress and decreased frustration among college students.

  • Visit a friend

A friend who supports your sobriety is one of your best assets in recovery. After a hard day, everyone needs someone who can make them laugh and forget their troubles for the moment. 

Strong social support is one of the best protective factors against mental health and substance use issues. Take advantage of the loved ones you have around you and schedule a standing commitment, maybe brunch on Sundays or a Wednesday evening walk. You can use this time to process your struggles out loud or forget about them for a while.

De-stress with an expert

Although having positive social support from friends and family can help you to forget your worries, there comes a time when you need to deal with stressors in your life – especially the stress of problematic alcohol use.

At Silver Ridge Recovery you’ll find the support you need to overcome alcohol addiction and find the freedom you long for. A professional can help you learn how to de-stress and be the happiest version of yourself. Call 855-945-7788 to learn more and get started today.