Even if you’re a casual drinker, alcohol can have a boomerang effect on anxiety. For starters, alcohol can interfere with your sleep cycle, making it tougher to get a full night of quality rest. And, we know poor sleep contributes to anxiety, so reaching for alcohol to calm your nerves may become a vicious circle.
Five Alternatives to Drinking Alcohol
One key reason for alcohol consumption is it is found in everyday social settings. In addition, many people turn to drinking as a form of relaxation or stress relief for the nervous system.
And while there are plenty of studies touting the so-called benefits of a glass of wine daily, health experts are becoming ever-more vocal about the negative impact this habit can have over time. Even if consumed in small doses, alcohol consumption on a daily basis can mount up to considerable levels over a week.
There are, of course, a broad range of alternatives to drinking for stress relief. One time-tested option is involvement in aerobic activity such as: walking, running or jogging, cycling, swimming, gardening, and sports.
Equally, there are more dedicated options such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and body scanning, which involves progressive muscle relaxation. This approach combines focused breathing with the gradual, intentional release of tension in muscles throughout the body.
We all need to unwind at the end of the day. But if you’ve noticed that the main or only way you’re doing so is by reaching for a beer, glass of wine, or cocktail, we have some alternatives you can try.
Have a Cup of Tea
Choosing tea instead of alcohol is not about depriving yourself of a daily pleasure. Rather, it’s about making choices to support your long-term health, and cultivating a mindful awareness to bring true peace and calm to your mind and body, with a healthful and relaxing cup of tea.
Creating a ritual of drinking tea can serve as a moment for reflection and meditation to naturally let go of the day’s residue to bring about an organic sense of well-being. By bringing your attention to the act of making and drinking tea, you connect with the present moment. Being fully aware of the here and now naturally brings a sense of calm and peace to your being. Green tea can also boost the effects of an intermittent fast.
Take a Shower (or a Bath)
There's something about washing away the day in a super-hot shower that helps the transition into a more relaxed state for the evening so much easier. It helps that you can't be on the phone in the shower, which helps you actually step away from checking email and remember that the evening is yours.
Taking a bath can really boost your mood, too! Make your bath luxurious by adding bubbles, a bath bomb, or Epsom salts, or consider getting a bath pillow. Consider adding spearmint and eucalyptus oil for extra relaxation. You can also pair your bath with a good book or audiobook, candlelight, soothing music, or the Calm app.
Go for a Walk
If you’re used to de-stressing after work with a glass of wine, try a quick burst of exercise instead. If you know you get home at the same time everyday and pour yourself a drink, you could try something different at that exact time instead.
A good idea could be to go for a walk, as moving your body after sitting at a desk all day can help you feel physically and mentally better, as well as more clear minded.
Not only does this occupy the time you would otherwise spend drinking, but it also helps improve your overall health. It also helps you change your frame of mind about fitness and drinking.
In the early days of the pandemic, we were all going for a lot of walks. What happened to that? Taking even just a 5 or 10 minute jaunt around the block helps clear your mind and forget any stressful or anxiety-inducing moments of the day.
Walking is also an easy way to jumpstart a daily exercise program. If you are a person living with type 2 diabetes, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important. Now that spring is upon us, it is the perfect time for you to get outside and walk your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Not only does walking help you increase your fitness levels, but it also helps control blood glucose levels and improves your body's ability to use insulin.
Sparkling juices are made using the same fermentation process as sparkling wine, so they make a great alternative to Prosecco or champagne because they have the same bubbles. Mixing sparkling water with juices, fruit concentrates, or bitters is a great way to mimic the experience of drinking alcohol without any of the effects.
Shrubs (drinking vinegars) might sound odd but they can be the perfect non-alcoholic option for wine drinkers. They are made of fruit, herbs, and apple cider vinegar, so the acidity and the variety of flavors make them a natural swap for wine.
Try a Healthy Mocktail
Modern mocktails tend to have a sense of sophistication, on an equal footing with their alcoholic counterparts. They use a variety of ingredients to cover a spectrum of flavors and colors, adding garnish to deliver a fantastic experience without the alcohol.
Many of the top winemakers have begun offering non-alcoholic alternatives of their top wines, made from the same grapes to achieve the same quality as their alcohol-based wines. Alcohol-free wine also has more nuanced flavors than sparkling grape juice.
If you are more of a wine drinker, wind down with an alcohol-free wine, by a brand you already love.
It may quickly become one of your go-to healthy alternatives to an alcoholic beverage, especially when you use it for sangria and add all your favorite seasonal fruits.
In addition to giving you an alcohol-free alternative, non-alcoholic wine and beer offer a variety of other benefits, including:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Boosts dopamine and serotonin (similarly to alcohol)
- Hydrates you
- Improves sleep
- Promotes bone growth
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces the risk of upper respiratory tract infection
Mocktails and alcohol-free wine or beer can be enjoyed in multiple ways and dressed up to fit the occasion. When ushering in a new season, start a celebratory ritual with a new, seasonal beverage.
So if you’ve been thinking about replacing that glass (or two) of wine each night, try these healthier alternatives. Your body and mind will thank you!