25 Ways To Relax Without Alcohol

Published On: November 29, 2022

Have you ever come home after a stressful day and craved a glass of wine to help you relax?

You may be surprised to learn that these are the times when you should steer clear of alcohol. Using this substance to relax may feel good in the short-term, but it can have a devastating impact on your life in the long-term.

Thankfully there are many ways to relax and unwind that don’t involve alcohol – see below for a list of effective and sustainable relaxation methods that won’t compromise your health.

Why do some people use alcohol to relax and cope with stress?


We all know that alcohol is bad for us, so why do so many of us turn to this substance when we need to relax?

Alcohol is a depressant meaning that it slows down your brain and body functions, which in turn can lead to a feeling of relaxation. [1]

Due to these effects, alcohol can make you feel more relaxed in the short term.

Many people turn to alcohol when they are feeling stressed as it can help them to forget their problems temporarily.

You may feel giggly, carefree and light-hearted when you drink alcohol, but it can actually make you feel more depressed than you would ordinarily feel. [2]

Many people can enjoy a drink now and then without consequences, but the trouble starts when you begin to rely on this substance in order to relax.

25 ways to relax without alcohol

Adventure Therapy

1. Get stuck into a good book

Reading can take you out of your own life and problems, transporting you into an entirely new world.

Depending on the type of book you choose you may find yourself in a gritty crime novel, adventuring in faraway lands or even levelling up your own life with the assistance of a self-help book.

2. Soak in the bath

A long hot bath can be the perfect antidote to stress as well as a highly effective way to relax and wind down before bed.

You can use essential oils and fragranced bath products to create a calming environment for your bath, and soak in the tub while reading a book or listening to music.

3. Go for a walk outside

Exercise has been scientifically proven to relax us and improve our mood, and walking is an easy way to achieve this.

Going for a walk cause endorphins to be released in the brain, and these chemicals can cause us to feel relaxed and happy.

Next time you feel the need to relax, lace up your trainers and head outside for a walk.

4.Try yoga

Yoga can help you to relax both physically and mentally, and it’s something that anyone can try regardless of your fitness level.

Try taking a regular yoga class or follow along with instruction videos on YouTube – just make sure to go at your own pace and don’t try to force anything.

5. Give meditation a try

A combination of breathing exercises, inner focus and regular practice make meditation one of the most relaxing activities that you can try.

You don’t have to meditate for long – even just a few minutes a day can make a drastic difference to your mood.

Meditation can put you into an intense state of relaxation, and these positive effects can last for hours after your session.

6. Play with your pet

Studies have shown that playing with a pet can cause the brain to release excess dopamine and serotonin, the ‘happy hormones.’ [3]

As a result, this activity can be extremely relaxing and soothing.

It can also lower your blood pressure, reduce feelings of loneliness and reduce the levels of cortisol in your body.

7. Watch a TV show or film

Immersing yourself in a good TV show or film is another great way to relax and escape from your problems.

Of course, you should set limits on your screen time and ensure that you aren’t living vicariously through this type of media.

But when done in a healthy way, watching a good TV show or film is a great way to relax without alcohol.

8. Write in a journal

Writing out your thoughts and feelings can clear your mind and leave you feeling more relaxed.

You can try prompts and questions to help you get into the regular practice of writing, and over time you will find that you can pour out your innermost thoughts onto paper.

Some people destroy or throw away the paper after writing on it, while others like to keep them and reflect back on their thoughts over time.

9. Practice breathing techniques

Breathing techniques are so effective for relaxation and stress relief that even the NHS promotes them.

Try placing one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose and pay attention to your hands – the hand on your stomach should move while the hand on your chest should remain still.

Breathe slowly out through your mouth and repeat this 10 times, twice a day.

10. Learn how to play an instrument

Learning an instrument isn’t relegated to schoolchildren – it’s a chance to develop a new skill and try something completely different.

Another benefit of learning to play an instrument is that it can be an effective way to regulate your breathing if you choose something like a trumpet or flute.

This skill can help you to relax and calm yourself down even when you don’t have an instrument in your hands.

11. Spend time with friends and family

One of the most effective ways to relax is by spending time with good friends – you may watch a film together, eat good food or just enjoy each other’s company.

Likewise, if you get along with your family then spending time with them can be extremely relaxing.

When you’re with the right people you’ll likely feel safe, grounded and comfortable which can help to make your worries feel a little smaller

12. Try muscle relaxation techniques

Physically relaxing your muscles can help you to feel calm and centred, and there are many ways to learn how to do this.

One technique is known as progressive muscle relaxation and involves tensing and relaxing specific muscles in your body.

This can help you to manage stress and feel more relaxed in general.

13. Talk to someone you trust

Not everyone has access to a professional therapist or counsellor, but talking about your feelings with someone you trust such as a partner, friend or family member can take a load of stress off your shoulders.

If you feel anxious, worried, overwhelmed or simply don’t know what to do with your pent-up emotions, turn to someone who cares about you instead of a bottle of alcohol.

14. Get a massage

Many of us recognise the relaxing and therapeutic effects of a good massage, and it can be much more effective than alcohol.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to a professional massage, ask a close friend, partner or family member to lend a hand.

Alternatively, you can use a self-massage tool to perform regular massages on yourself.

15. Stretch your muscles

Much like yoga, stretching your muscles can feel relaxing and help your brain know when it’s time to wind down.

Learning how to safely and effectively stretch can improve your posture, relax your body and help you sleep better at night.

You can take a professional class on stretching or simply watch a couple of videos to pick up the technique.

16. Pamper yourself

A fresh haircut, new manicure or a new outfit can work wonders for your mood and can help you to relax without reaching for alcohol.

It’s easy to forget that we benefit from regular maintenance and freshening up, just like a car.

Take some time out of your day to pamper yourself and see just how much more relaxed you feel both during and after the treatment.

17. Cook a new recipe

If you’re inexperienced in the kitchen, the thought of cooking may be the very opposite of relaxing.

But anyone can learn to cook a simple recipe, and you may be surprised at how soothing and meditative it can be.

Baking bread from scratch is simple enough, and the action of kneading the dough can be extremely relaxing. Plus, you get to eat something delicious at the end of it!

18. Learn a dance routine (or just improvise!)

We all know physical exercise is good for our mood, but did you know it can also help you relax after a long day?

Dancing is a simple and effective way to boost your mood, whether you learn a routine as part of a dance class or simply bop away at home.

You can quite literally dance your problems away, at least for a while.

19. Try a non-alcoholic drink

If you’re in the habit of reaching for a drink to wind down after work, why not whip up some non-alcoholic options?

There are so many non-alcoholic drinks available on the market today, from beer to wine and even spirits.

Get creative and make your own non-alcoholic cocktail – it might even taste better than your old favourite.

20. Start a new creative hobby

There are few things more relaxing and gratifying than making something with your own hands.

Knitting, sewing and crocheting are just a few of the many relaxing and creative hobbies out there. You could also try woodwork or metalwork, writing a blog or painting.

No matter what you choose, if you enjoy it then you will likely get into a ‘flow state’ in which time passes quickly as you are so absorbed in your work.

21. Watch something funny

Laughter is the best medicine, and watching something funny is a great way to relax in a healthy way.

Try watching stand-up comedy or your favourite funny film and let yourself laugh out loud. Inviting someone else to join in the fun is even better!

22. Listen to music

While music can energise you and get you ready for a party or a good workout, it can also help you to relax and unwind.

Try listening to slow and soothing music while you go about your day, such as classical music or a score from your favourite film.

You can even combine it with another tip from this article and practice deep breathing techniques at the same time for an, even more, relaxing effect.

23. Get into gaming

Whether you prefer board games, video games or immersive role-playing games, they can be a great way to relax without alcohol.

Games can keep your hands busy and your brain active, entirely focused on the task at hand.

This can prevent you from worrying and ruminating over other things and allows you to wind down from the day in a healthy way.

24. Practice aromatherapy

There’s something incredibly relaxing and soothing about essential oils and the practice of aromatherapy, and many people swear by their effects.

Lavender is thought to be one of the most calming scents, so consider purchasing a diffuser along with lavender oil, or make your own from dried lavender.

Remember that essential oils are not edible and some people may be allergic to them, so it’s best to avoid using them orally or topically.

25. Learn a new language

Engaging your brain in a new way is a great way to relax, and what better way than by learning a new language?

Many languages have completely different rules to English, such as always capitalising nouns or identifying the subject first.

This is a great challenge for your brain and will keep it occupied without the need for alcohol or other substances.

What are the downsides to using alcohol to relax?


If a glass of wine can help you to relax, then what’s the harm?

You may be surprised to learn that there are many downsides to using alcohol as a coping strategy. It is not a harmless substance with no consequences – in fact, it can completely take over your life.

1. You are at risk of developing an addiction

The more you rely on alcohol to help you deal with stress, the more likely it is that you will develop an addiction to this substance.

Over time you may feel as though you are unable to cope with anything without using alcohol, and this can change the physical structure and chemistry of your brain.

Addiction can destroy your life, and in the worst cases, it can be fatal.

2. You will have more trouble dealing with stress

Drinking alcohol to help you relax and cope with stress is actually counterproductive, as it can leave you even less likely to deal with negative emotions.

Alcohol can disrupt your sleep, leaving you tired and unable to think clearly. The depressant nature of this substance can also cause you to feel more unhappy and anxious than you were in the first place.

3. You may encounter more problems and stress

Alcohol usually causes more problems than it solves.

You may find yourself too hungover to go to work the next day, potentially causing problems with your employment. You may injure yourself or other people, say or do things that you regret and place yourself in dangerous situations.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3797525/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860387/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826684/



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