Unlock Calm Without Cocktails: 25 Ways to Beat Stress Without Alcohol

There are days when I still feel like I have more stress in my life than there are kernels in the jumbo-sized bucket of popcorn at the movie theater. Alas, it turns out that stress is, in fact, a normal part of everyday life. And – shocker – we aren’t meant to raise a glass and drown our stress in it every time it hits. I know, I know. That one took me an extremely long time to come to terms with myself. The thing is, if every time we feel stress we drink to numb it, we never learn how to process and deal with it. The only thing we end up learning is that one glass no longer does the trick. Because – spoiler alert – alcohol increases stress. So you get stuck in this perpetual doom loop where nothing gets worked out. Never fear though. You can unlock calm without cocktails and I’m bringing you 25 ways to beat stress without alcohol! Let’s go!

25 ways to beat stress without alcohol - relax written in the sand

Work It Out

One of the BEST ways to beat stress without alcohol is by getting physical. It turns out that exercise naturally releases the same endorphins that we get from exercise. I’ll let you figure out which method is healthier for you! Now I know most of us conjure up an image of hitting the trail and running that stress out but that’s not for everyone.

Here are some unique ideas on how to work up a sweat and work out the stress.

25. Go Line Dancing! Boogie down definitely gets your heart pumping and you get the added bonus of jamming out and laughing a bit while you do it. That’s a three-for-three stress buster right there!

24. Do Something Extreme. Try a sport you haven’t done before – surfing, skateboarding, parkour, bungee fit – there’s so many options out there. Using your brain and challenging it will also go a long way towards alleviating stress.

23. Kick The Stress. Does stress ever leave you feeling like you just want to hit something? JUST DO IT! Kick-boxing, MMA, Karate, etc all let you kick the daylights out of that stress. Actually, they encourage you to do it. So if stress has you steaming, pick an activity that lets you kick it!

22. Get Competitive. Is part of your stress from the fact that you feel isolated? Or like you can never win? Join a group sport! The camaraderie of a team gives you a built-in network for talking through your stress, and there’s definitely an endorphin rush when you compete to beat the opposing team.

21. Just Add Water. There’s something about the water that just has a soothing effect and seems to wash stress away. Go for a swim, take a kayak, go paddle boarding, or try your hand at sailing, waterskiing, or another water-based activity that can make your stress ebb away with the tides.

Woo-Woo Ways To Beat Stress Without Alcohol

Okay, I don’t think these are Woo-Ways to beat stress without alcohol but the alliteration sure did work. These are really centuries-old techniques that have been proven by both anecdotal and scientific evidence to work for managing stress. They might seem fanciful and awkward to us at first but it can’t be any weirder than sipping on a cup of liquid poison to make ourselves feel better. (Touche. Touche!)

Embrace the woo when you –

20. Poke the Pain Points. Try giving acupressure or acupuncture a try when things get to be too much. This ancient Chinese technique dates back over 3,000 years. If you’re wary of needles you can get simpler benefits from practitioners that apply pressure to specific points on the body.

19. Dig Into The Stress.
Massage is another time-honored way to dig into your muscles and release the stress within. If you’re uncomfortable with full body massages go for a chair massage or find someone who practices reflexology using the feet. Mental tension turns into physical tension and a massage can help you release both!

18. Get Centered. Find a way to get in touch with yourself and quiet your mind. Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, journaling – they are all options that can ground you and offer a new perspective on what has you tied up in knots.

17. Say It Again. The idea of chanting affirmations might seem really out there but science backs up that it works. Chanting stimulates the vagus nerve and promotes relaxation. And chanting affirmations is even more impactful.

16. Get Grateful. I know, I know. Who in the world practices gratitude when they want to scream at someone or pound down a drink just to forget it all? Well, people who want to learn ways to manage stress without alcohol. That’s who. Gratitude offers a shift in perspective. It can take a crappy situation and make us see how small that issue is when we have so many other things going right in our lives. Or it may offer the perspective that something needs to change because of how that issue impacts our ability to show gratitude.

Healthy Ways To Beat Stress Without Alcohol

One of the reasons many of us turn to alcohol to beat stress is that we’ve adopted some unhealthy habits along the way. These can be passed down from our upbringing, from relationships at work, or our personal lives, or simply due to our personality style. Adopting healthier habits and mindsets is key to overcoming those toxic ways to beat stress.

15. Stop Doing It All. Society glorifies this idea that we should be able to do it all. Maintain top-notch careers, keep our home pristine, raise perfect children, hit the gym, volunteer for special causes, and socialize regularly. That isn’t realistic or sustainable. Permit yourself to say no to the overwhelm and turn down commitments that will push you over the edge.

14 . Prioritize Sleep. Too often, sleep is sacrificed for productivity or leisure. (Because logic doesn’t factor in when we choose relaxing over sleeping.) However, quality sleep is foundational for coping with stress. Establish a calming bedtime routine and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep to help your body and mind recover and strengthen.

13. Connect with Loved Ones. Social interaction is crucial for our well-being. Spend quality time with friends and family who support you and make you feel good. Strong social connections provide a sense of belonging and buffer the effects of stress.

12. Disconnect to Reconnect. In our hyper-connected world, constant digital stimulation can be a major source of stress. Schedule regular breaks from your devices: silence your notifications, put your phone away, and savor the quiet moments.

11. Flex and Release. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups throughout your body. This technique helps to release physical tension and promote feelings of calmness.

Embracing Creativity to Combat Stress

One of the most enriching and enjoyable ways to combat stress is through creativity. Engaging in creative outlets offers an escape, allowing us to express ourselves, explore new realms of possibility, and disconnect from the sources of our stress. Often we get so lost in what we are creating that we’re whisked away – albeit temporarily – to a place where our stressors don’t exist.

10. Start a Blog or Write Online. Share your thoughts, experiences, and creativity with the world. Writing can be a therapeutic outlet and a way to connect with others who share your passions.

9. Knit Something Warm. Whether it’s a scarf, a hat, or a cozy blanket, knitting can be a rhythmic, meditative activity that soothes the mind.

8. Throw, Shape, Fire. Try your hand at pottery. Throwing the clay to make it malleable is an excellent stress-buster and the process of shaping the clay, firing it, and painting it can be incredibly soothing as well.

7. Furniture Restoration. Give old furniture new life, applying your creativity and craftsmanship to transform pieces. You may discover some synchronicity in that endeavor as the process breathes new life into you.

6. Dance to the Beat of Your Own Drum. Learn a new instrument, write your own lyrics, use music production software to create your own unique soundscapes, or dance it out to some tunes. Music has a way of soothing us and has been proven to lower blood pressure along with releasing dopamine and creating feelings of relaxation and happiness.  

Additional Ways To Beat Stress Without Alcohol

Often it can feel like we’ve exhausted all our options in the fight against stress, reaching for a drink out of habit. But remember, this feeling is just a limiting belief! It’s time to break free and explore other powerful tools to combat stress effectively. Here are 5 additional ways to prove to yourself that a stress-free life is achievable, completely ditching the alcohol:

5. ACT on it. This stands for Awareness, Clarity, and Turnaround. It’s a technique that helps you detach from overwhelming emotions and observe your thoughts objectively. By analyzing the thought process behind cravings and replacing negative thought patterns with healthier ones, you can rewire your brain and break the cycle of unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Here’s a breakdown of the ACT process:

  • Awareness: Notice the thoughts and feelings arising when you experience a stressful situation.
  • Clarity: Examine the impact of those thoughts. How do they make you feel emotionally and physically?
  • Turnaround: Challenge and replace unhelpful thoughts with more empowering beliefs that promote healthy coping mechanisms.

4. Read a Book. Escape into other worlds or gain new insights by diving into a good book. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered with these book suggestions!

3. Listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks. Find podcasts or audiobooks that interest you, whether for entertainment or education. We often think that we always need to be working on bettering ourselves but letting loose and doing something just because it brings you pleasure or a few laughs is just as worthwhile!

2. Take a Day Off. Unplug from electronic devices to recharge your mental and emotional batteries. Stock up on comfort foods or dine out. Ignore the chores, ignore it all. Sometimes you really do need to unplug and spend some time in nature (or in your bed) to get away from it all.

1. Don’t do anything. Yep, you read that right. Permit yourself to not plan anything, to not be in charge, and to not micromanage. Discover how freeing and relaxing it can be to just be. You may find that much of your stress has been due to decision-making fatigue. Freeing yourself from that obligation might just change everything!

You Do You – Without The Booze

This arsenal of 25 stress-busters proves that a calm and collected you is absolutely achievable. From physical activities like line dancing and water sports to the “woo-woo” world of acupressure and meditation, there’s something for everyone.

Remember, self-care isn’t selfish. Prioritize sleep, connect with loved ones, and take digital breaks. Embrace the power of creativity, explore new hobbies, or simply allow yourself to just be. You deserve a life free from the clutches of stress and the deceptive allure of alcohol. Take a deep breath, and let’s get started!