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Drinking Without

10 Ways to Relax Without Drinking

Stephen ZeiglerGetty Images January has rolled around and we’re all setting our new year’s resolutions, or more like promises we’d like to keep to ourselves. Yours might be to quit drinking or simply reduce how much you indulge in on a daily or weekly basis. Previously reported by Men’s Health, constantly living in the drink/repeat…

man laying on sofa

Stephen ZeiglerGetty Images

January has rolled around and we’re all setting our new year’s resolutions, or more like promises we’d like to keep to ourselves. You might decide to stop drinking, or reduce the amount of alcohol you consume on a daily and weekly basis.

Previously reported by Men’s Health, constantly living in the drink/repeat cycle could lead to fatty liver, a silent disease more common in men who drink above the “moderate” (more than two drinks per day) level. According to Rotonya Carr, M.D., hepatologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, cutting back or even quitting alcohol could reverse the damage

Not only does overdrinking do damage to your liver, drinking too much can damage your entire body, including your heart, skin, penis, and muscles.

So if you drink to unwind or even get some rest, you may be doing more harm than good. A review of studies in 2013 found that alcohol may help you fall asleep quicker, but it’s more likely to disrupt sleep later in the night.

So if you’re looking to cut back, you’re probably wondering about your options. Experts reviewed the studies and we helped you to find a new way to relax without reaching for the bottle.

Whether you’re participating in Dry January, or simply want to make some strategic cutbacks, deploy these tips to put a cork in stress and keep your spirits up at the end of a (very) long day.

1

Have fun

Laughing generates gamma waves. These are the same high-frequency brain waves that occur during meditation, according to Loma Linda University, California. The anticipation of laughter can help reduce stress hormones. Start with Seth MacFarlane’s Star Trek spoof The Orville: New Horizons.

2

Play an Pickup game

You may not miss the alcohol, but you will probably miss the bar. So round up some fit friends and/or coworkers and schedule a weekly run, pickup basketball game, or lifting session. These activities are fun and don’t require many people (unlike kickball or pickup baseball) and leave time for the things that make bars great: conversation.

3

Fly solo

You can do the yard work and grocery shopping by yourself, so why not enjoy the fun stuff too? Research has shown that solo trips to the cinema, concert or art gallery have mental-health benefits comparable to those made by people who go in groups. This is a great excuse to go out for a nice meal.

4

Let it drop

Chills in your favorite workout song indicate that your brain is producing dopamine, which is a pleasure chemical similar to alcohol. Get more workout tracks from Men’s Health on Spotify.

5

Take a bath

Try a different type of liquid refreshment. Study participants with depressive symptoms who took a warm bath for 30 minutes felt better than those who did about 45 minutes of aerobic exercise, German researchers found. Although a bath can be a hassle, it is good for your health.

6

Write It Out

Anxious times can cause the mind to run wild. Reach for a pen instead of a drink, says Freddie Bennett, a former drinker who’s now an ultrarunner and a host of the podcast Over the Influence. For ten minutes, write non-stop. You’ll get all that random shit out of your head and maybe discover why you were anxious in the first place.”

7

Try new recipes

If you have ever felt fulfilled by trying a new recipe, then researchers can help you. A study in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who frequently take on small, creative challenges–like cooking a meal they haven’t before–report feeling content and relaxed. Check out more 31 new ways to shake up dinner time here.

8

Slip something else into your drinking schedule

Most people have a consistent drinking pattern. Take note of when you are most likely to reach out for a glass. Then, prebook another event on those dates and times. FaceTime with your family is a great option if you are prone to drinking and chasing the Sunday Scaries. FaceTime with family will save you the stress of learning self-control.

9

Get some rest

Even one drink can cause headaches and morning fog. So instead of a nightcap, order up that good rest you keep saying you need. Gradually shift your sleep-wake times; aim for 10 P.M. to 6 A.M. That way, you’ll have a use for your newfoun

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