We all lead stressful lives, and many people use alcohol to relax and relieve the stress of a busy day. The problem with using alcohol is relax is that it only offers temporary relief, and the problems always come back later. The pleasure that we feel when we drink alcohol never lasts for very long. Worse still, the inevitable let down just makes us want to drink more alcohol. But drinking too much just adds to the stress that was already in our lives. And it just doesn’t seem to solve the problems, it just postpones the issues for another day. If we truly want to find a way to relax, then we need to find alternatives to alcohol.
Alcohol makes the problem worse
The problem with alcohol is that it becomes a form of self medication for the issues in our lives. Things such as suppressed emotions, or painful memories can cause the type of emotional conflicts that seem to feel better with alcohol. But in actual fact, alcohol only adds to the problem, and never seems to resolve anything. It becomes a sort of a crutch that we depend on as a coping mechanism. Alcohol can form negative associations with suppressed emotions. It can quickly develop into a bad lifestyle habit, and we soon come to depend on alcohol. Or worse, we can become addicted to alcohol, even if we are not even aware of the danger that we place ourselves in. The irony of using alcohol to relax is that it actually becomes the ultimate stress, and creates a vicious cycle.
Alcohol can have negatives impacts on health
Not only is alcohol a dangerous and addictive drug, but it is also toxic, and is bad for health. In the short term, alcohol poisoning can cause black outs, vomiting, and headaches and hangovers. As if this is not bad enough, alcohol is responsible for many types of cancers, liver disease, and brain damage. When you consider all of the problems with alcohol, it just doesn’t seem worth the risk in the pursuit of relaxation and happiness!
What are the alternatives to alcohol as a way to relax?
Unfortunately, our society has come to associate medication as the way to cure all ills. The problem here is that trying to overcome alcohol dependence with a medical solution is not a reliable protection from relapse. When we rely on a chemical intervention for our alcohol problems, we are not addressing the underlying causes for the problem with alcohol. When we continue to suppress our hidden emotions, or painful memories, then we are still at risk of alcohol relapse.
Alternatives to alcohol
Instead of searching for a medical intervention for alternatives to alcohol, we need to understand the power of the subconscious mind. When it comes to the urge to drink alcohol, then that is at least partly coming from the subconscious mind. If you rely on will power alone to overcome the subconscious, then it simply will not be strong enough. Eventually the subconscious mind will overcome, and the result is to return to the unwanted behaviour. Even medical intervention may not be strong enough to overcome the subconscious mind. All that one needs to do is to skip the medication for a short time, in order to return to the unwanted behaviour. Of course, at this point the unwanted behavious actually looks favourable.
Healthy alternatives to alcohol consumption
To avoid a big problem with alcohol, we need to find healthy alternatives to a focus on drinking. If we find a better way to use that time that we normally waste when drinking, there is a whole world of opportunity. There’s the opportunity to become fit and healthy, more organised or more mindful. Without doubt, there are huge benefits to getting some fresh air and exercise. A healthy diet is also very important to living a healthy lifestyle. So too is spending happy time with friends and family. Many people choose to become involved in a hobby, activity, music or even reading more books. These types of activities can help to break the bad habit that formed around drinking alcohol. Importantly, they can help to form new, better habits.
Physical alternatives to alcohol
Without a doubt, physical activity is one of the most important alternatives to alcohol. Whether you choose to walk, run, swim, cycle, or simply go outside for a deep breath of fresh air, it is important to be active. Physical activity is good for the bones, good for the muscles, good for the heart and even good for the brain. Exercise also helps to alleviate stress, and it releases endorphins which is one of the best natural alternatives to alcohol. Exercise makes you feel good, makes you look good, and is a much better way to spend time than just focusing alcohol.
Besides, all those empty calories from alcohol can tend to cause weight gain. Then this causes difficulty when it comes to physical exercise. When you’re in the grip of the addiction it’s probably impossible to “go for a walk instead”. This is because the craving to drink is still there. But go for exercise anyway. As you work on other areas that help you deal with the addiction, the benefit of exercise will support you to feel better.
Mental alternatives to alcohol
Many of the reasons we drink alcohol are due to mental issues, such as stress, anxiety, habit and dependence. There are better ways to relieve stress, such as meditation, which helps people to feel calm and more self aware. There are many different forms of meditation. So even if you don’t want to do traditional meditation, there are many ways to spend a little quiet time. Even as little as 10 minutes of quiet time per day can help. Meditation or just taking some quite time to contemplate can reduce blood pressure, and help people to stay focused and calmer throughout the day.
Fun and laughter are good alternatives to alcohol
One of the sadly mistaken ideas is that we need alcohol to have fun. When we meet up with friends and family, we actually feel good due to the fun associations of being with them. We feel better due to the smiling and laughter associated with being together. We really don’t need to associate alcohol with the natural high of being with people we know and like.
New hobbies and activities are good alternatives to alcohol
Rather than waste time sitting around drinking, there are many ways to better use that spare time. Take up painting, reading, listening to music, or even knitting as a way to release stress and to find some calming influence. Try something new, meet new people, and re-ignite a passion that you have not had time for lately. Some people even find studying or learning new things is an effective way to stimulate the brain. No matter what you choose to do, it will be a better way to spend time as an alternative to alcohol.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol, then we can help because we have been there and we understand. Click here to get help to stop drinking.
Also published on Medium.