Everyone needs time to unwind, relieve anxiety and escape from life’s stressors. But if your primary way of doing so is with an alcoholic drink in your hand, this coping mechanism can develop into an addiction. When alcohol becomes a substitute for dealing with complex emotions, drinking can trigger a self-sustaining cycle of increased use. It can also cause or worsen mental and physical health problems like depression, chronic stress and disrupted sleep.
Alcohol and other addictive drugs affect brain chemistry, changing how you experience pleasure. Over time, drinking may replace all your other hobbies and pastimes, and you could start neglecting your responsibilities as your priorities change. If drinking alcohol is how you fill time, here are some alternatives you can try to drink less.
1. Work up a Sweat
Exercise naturally alleviates the stress that might make you want to drink. When you work out, your body releases endorphins, which create the characteristic “runner’s high.” However, you don’t have to run to get these benefits. A walk, hike, bike ride or fast-paced yoga flow can have the same effects. To elevate your sweat session to the next level, take it outside – being in nature is a natural mood booster that will leave you feeling good about yourself long after your cooldown.
2. Start a Meditation Practice
Using alcohol to mute stress only provides short-term relief. Ultimately, it is counterproductive because a drinking habit will keep making your anxiety worse over time. On the other hand, meditation retrains your brain to focus, be still and live in the moment. By establishing a daily meditation habit, you can stay calmer and release regrets.
3. Connect With Friends
Addiction can be isolating when it starts affecting your relationships, but even the most introverted people benefit from socialization and connection. Spending time with sober friends is a healthy alternative to drinking because they will help you have fun without alcohol. Support is essential to achieving any goal, especially one that can affect every other aspect of your life. You can meet new sober friends in a support group or by enrolling in addiction treatment.
Discover the Difference of Sober Living
Committing to an alcohol-free lifestyle will improve your overall quality of life by giving you time back, allowing you to sleep better and have more energy and enthusiasm for daily tasks. However, you might have trouble cutting back if drinking is a long-established habit and you struggle with withdrawal symptoms. A treatment program can help you break the cycle of substance abuse by giving you healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with complicated emotions.
Pillars Recovery is here to guide young adults on their journeys toward happier, healthier lives. We know it is possible to overcome addiction because we have all discovered the freedom of sustained sobriety. If you are looking for a single-gender recovery environment, we have separate residential homes for men and women in beautiful, sunny Southern California. To learn more about our continuum of care, connect with us today. It is our honor to help you on every step of your journey.