10 Ways to Relax Without Alcohol

Relaxing and unwinding are entirely possible without a glass of wine or bottle of beer in hand. It might not seem like it, but it is. Unfortunately, a global pandemic of drinking to relax has erupted globally. Downing a glass or two has become standard practice to free us from tense circumstances and unwanted emotions and feelings.

The daily consumption of alcohol is so embedded in our millennial culture that many think nothing of drinking daily or having friends and family members do so. Who hasn’t seen the many novelty gifts online or in card shops, stating ‘Wine Time’ or “Shut up Liver, You’re Fine.’?

An increasing number of bottomless brunches or boozy bunches, novelty gifts and alcohol-related memes found online is another indication of this global alcohol pandemic.

Shockingly so, the Yorkshire Cancer Research centre find that twenty-one per cent of drinkers regularly drink more than the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week, with one in ten people drinking daily. Yet, as scary as this figure is, the study also found that seven in ten participants weren’t aware that any amount of alcohol could increase the risk of developing cancer.

Even worse, seventy-nine percentage of people said they’d continue to drink. [1]

With the apparent indication of the harmful effects of even small amounts of daily alcohol consumption on the body, it’s clear that prevention is better than cure. If you’d like to give prevention ago, carry on reading to try out ten of the best ways to relax without alcohol.

1. Exercise That Stress Away

‘What, exercise? To relax?’ Yes, that’s right. Exercise is well known to improve sleep, mood and reduce depression. However, if running or the gym isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other exercises to try. Stretching with yoga or getting fresh air with a brisk walk is equally beneficial in improving mood and relaxing. Some of the best activities to put you in a meditative state are walking, running, cycle rides and yoga.

Don’t do anything you hate. Making yourself miserable with exercise defeats the object of exercising to relax. If you’re unsure which activity you’ll enjoy, try out any exercise; if you don’t like it, try another. Even the most self-professed couch potato will find a workout that they enjoy. Other excellent exercise options include tennis, squash, swimming, or hiking.

Even though alcohol fools us into believing it reduces our stress levels, it worsens our negative thoughts and emotions as a depressant. In contrast, exercise truly does relax the mind and body, reducing stress in the short term and long term. In addition, exercise also helps with your physical health, which again casts a positive impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. [2]

2. Enjoy Some Suds in the Bath

Grab a different type of bottle, a bubble bath bottle. A relaxing bath is one of the simplest ways to relax and unwind after a long day. Pair a warm bath with Epsom salt, bubble bath, a good book, audiobook, candlelight, soothing music, the Calm app or even a Netflix binge. What’s better than a giggle or two as you soak and enjoy a feel-good movie simultaneously.

3. Create and Inspire

Indulging in creative arts is a tremendously relaxing activity. Channelling your creative energy is an inspiring and empowering way to boost your mood and reduce stress. In addition, there’s nothing quite like that boost of holding something in your hands that you’ve made. Finally, there’s nothing quite like the indescribable feeling of accomplishment you get when you create.

After a long, hard day, why not join an evening class, fish out those drawing pencils, fill in an adult colouring book, sign up for music lessons, or try your hand at creating writing? The options are endless. But whatever you do, create in the knowledge that taking up creative hobbies can aid you emotionally and physically by reducing stress and anxiety. [3]

4. Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques can help process negative feelings such as stress, anxiety, and anger. Mindful practices also teach you to be present in the moment, training your mind to wander less.

Practising mindfulness can help you recognise when negative thoughts are taking over and separate yourself from them. Mindfulness through mindful breathing, sitting quietly, taking long walks, journaling, meditating, and reflecting are all effective at dealing with complicated feelings. [4]

5. Meditation

Another essential M-word. Meditation is proven to help addiction recovery as it helps you feel calm, less stressed, and more able to avoid triggers and relapse. In addition, it’s an essential holistic tool to aid in reducing alcohol consumption.

Take a seat on a chair, bed, floor, or anywhere you’re comfortable and focus on the feeling of your breath and your body. Then, of course, your thoughts will try to invade your meditative state. Still, eventually, you will become accustomed to focusing only on your body and breath, and the thoughts will gradually dissipate.[5]

6. Escape Reality with A Good Book

There is no better escape from the stresses and strains of daily life than escaping into another reality. Researchers from The University of Sussex 2009 study found that reading can reduce stress up to a whopping 68%. Ultimately this could be due to how reading lowers the heart rate and eases the tension in our muscles. Furthermore, reading is one of the most efficient and quickest relaxation techniques.[6]

7. Try a New Hobby

Hobbies and recreational activities are excellent sources of stress relief. Recreational techniques are much healthier forms of stress relief and relaxation than drinking alcohol. Some wonderful activities include sports, such as Golf or Tennis, the gym, yoga, taking an acting class or creative writing class. Not only do recreational activities improve your mood, but they also help you to make new friends and solve problems of loneliness.

8. Socialising Friends and Family

There’s no reason why you should miss out on summer BBQ’s, parties, family events, work do’s, just because you’re not drinking.

So rather than asking for wine or beer, ask for a refreshing glass of ice water or other non-alcoholic drink. Most people start to relax and forget they’re not drinking when they’re deep in conversation and reminiscing.

But what about the dreaded question, ‘why aren’t you drinking?’ Say you’re learning to have a good time without alcohol, or you’re trying to take better care of your health. Bringing non-alcoholic beer or wine with you is also a good idea if you don’t want to be questioned; it may also encourage others to drink less.

9. Be Aware of Triggers

Perhaps a phone call with your mother sends you reaching for that large glass of wine. Has a disagreement with a co-worker sent you over the edge? First, individuals need to learn what triggers cause them stress, anxiety, or boredom. Only then can coping mechanisms be set up to ensure that reducing their alcohol intake doesn’t give in to cravings.

So why not set up healthy coping strategies when you have good days, ready for bad days?

10. Wisdom is Power

Doing research and understanding how alcohol can negatively impact the body and our lives is one of the most important ways to find the freedom to relax without alcohol. It is commonly misconstrued that alcohol is a perfectly safe way to relax and unwind. However, alcohol can have the opposite effect and exacerbates stress.

Frequent and excessive alcohol consumption can result in problems with all areas of life and health, causing more stress. Alcohol also actually reduces a person’s ability to manage or cope with stress and anxiety. If people knew this was the case, they probably wouldn’t drink. However, if you are dealing with alcohol-induced stress, sobriety can help reverse this effect.[7]


  1. https://yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk/news/fifth-of-drinkers-exceed-governments-recommended-alcohol-limit-every-week
  2. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/physical-activity-its-important
  3. https://www.headtohealth.gov.au/meaningful-life/purposeful-activity/hobbies
  4. https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mindful_breathing
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-meditation-can-do-for-your-mind-mood-and-health
  6. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/reading-stress-relief
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860387/