One of the fears of addiction recovery that many people have is wondering how they’ll get by without alcohol. It has played such a prominent part in their recent life that the thought of going without can be scary. Will sobriety be boring? How will they fill their days?
Alcohol also tends to be a go-to resource when people feel stressed or anxious. They drink to relax and unwind. To feel more at ease and forget about their problems. But really alcohol is just a temporary fix and can end up exacerbating problems. When you become too reliant on alcohol, it can disrupt your sleep, interfere with memory, contribute to risky decisions, and put a strain on your health, relationships, finances, and more.
So what are some ways that you can unwind without reaching for a drink?
- Turn to your friends.
There’s always the funny, witty one in every group. The person who can make you smile no matter how badly your day is going. Make it a point to spend more time with people who make you laugh and feel good about yourself. Whether you spend a few minutes talking on the phone or meet up for coffee, know who you can turn to. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself and push everyone away. While time to yourself can be nice sometimes, so can breaking that negativity bubble with friends.
- Zone out with a pet.
Dog is considered man’s best friend for a reason. They’re faithful, loving, and loyal. In this case cats, rabbits, and other animals could do as well. When you’re feeling your stress rising, take a time out and enjoy the company of a pet. Simply stroking their fur and sitting close can lower your blood pressure and make tension fade away. How can you resist that adorable face? Plus pets are great listeners. They don’t judge or talk back and they provide unconditional love.
- Stay active.
For some people, the best way to relieve stress and relax is to keep moving. Whether you swim a few laps in the pool, hike your favorite trail, go for a bike ride around town, or start a pickup game of basketball, you’re able to burn off excess energy. Some people do their best thinking when they’re exercising, while for others it’s a way to clear their mind and refocus. Sitting idly and perseverating on your problems can increase temptation to drink. Keeping yourself active can actually help you to relax in the long run.
- Find places of comfort.
Where are you most at ease? Is it watching the ducks swim at the park? Sipping coffee and listening to live music? Building things with your hands in your garage? Pay attention to where you spend your time. If you know going to a certain restaurant will trigger negative thoughts and make you feel uncomfortable, suggest somewhere else that you’re more at ease. Find those places where you can relax and enjoy yourself. Your sphere of comfort may be small at first, but as you become more confident in your recovery, it will start to expand.
- Change what you’re doing.
If you’re constantly feeling stressed out and tempted to drink, it’s time to make some changes in your life. Perhaps you should rethink your current job, friends, or activities. Identify what it is that’s making you unhappy and what you can do to fix it. Although this can be easier said than done and can take some time, it’s worth it in the end. Maybe it’s time to start delegating more at work, declining the offer to be troop leader or coach for an activity your kids are involved in, or restructuring how you spend your evenings. Even small changes can make a difference.
There are also plenty of other things you can do such as meditate, engage in yoga, take up a sport or club, curl up with a good book, or dance it out to your favorite music. Keep a running list of things you enjoy and find calming. When you know you have a big event or demanding project coming up, be proactive in making time to unwind and de-stress. The more you practice these holistic approaches, the easier they will come to you.
If your drinking has become problematic and is your go-to coping mechanism when you feel stressed, engaging in an executive rehab program at Chapters Capistrano can help. With customized treatment plans, you can find what works for you and your individual needs. Don’t let stress and drinking get the best of you. There is help and hope. Contact Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 to get started.