Dry January Download the Dry January App About Dry January What is Dry January? Our story Support and policies Our partners Why do Dry January? Get involved Resources Charities In your community In your workplace Fundraising Blog Five ways to relax without alcohol Alcohol can often become a crutch for relaxation, but consistently reaching for a drink to help you unwind can be harmful to health. Dry January is a great opportunity to unwind in other ways, and perhaps introduce new relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Guest blogger Laurie McAllister, who writes the blog Girl and Tonic, shares five of her favourite ways to relax without alcohol. A question I get asked a lot is how do you relax without alcohol? In fact, how do I relax without alcohol is a question I asked myself in the months leading up to and my first few months of going booze free. I didn’t drink alcohol every day, but it was a core part of my relaxation routine. Feeling stressed? Glass of wine. Feeling anxious? Glass of wine. Had a bad day? Glass of wine. Had a terrible day? Glass of wine. You get the picture. Alcohol helps us to self-medicate our minor (and major) issues, and can often become a crutch for relaxation. But the relief we feel is just temporary, and consistently reaching for a drink to help you relax or unwind can be harmful for your health. There are many ways to relax without alcohol – and waking up after your bad day without a hangover gives you a much better chance of having a good day! Here are five of my favourite ways to relax without alcohol: 1. Read a good book Sounds obvious I know but it’s one I often put off in favour of scrolling through my phone. If you can, leave your phone in another room, light a candle and settle down with a good book. I’ve written a few round ups of books that I love which you can read here – and if you struggle to concentrate on reading, why not try listening to an audiobook instead? 2. Take a long bath Baths are often my go-to way to relax without alcohol. I recently moved back to my parents’ house and their bathroom is being redone - I have missed being able to have a bath so much! Turning the taps on, running the bath, using bath oil or bath salts, placing your dressing gown/towel on the radiator so it’s warm when you get out of the bath, lighting a candle and picking out a book or magazine to read – it all adds to the relaxing routine. 3. Get outside and go for a walk Locate some green space, put your shoes on and go for a walk. When I lived in the city (London – sigh), I often used to walk home if I had had a stressful day. Yes it took a long time but by the time I made it home I’d always feel loads better. Sometimes putting on a podcast or listening to an audiobook as you walk can help to clear your head and enable you to relax without alcohol. 4. Practice yoga or any exercise you enjoy I’m a yoga teacher so naturally my recommendation for relaxation is going to be yoga, but if yoga isn’t for you then any exercise you enjoy – running or zumba or crossfit or anything else – can help you relax and unwind. I love yoga because it takes me completely out of myself, but running and other forms of exercise do that for other people. Roll out your yoga mat or put on your running shoes for some active relaxation. If you’d like to try yoga but have never tried it, come to one of my classes if you’re based in East Anglia or hop on over to Movement for Modern Life, they have a fantastic selection of beginner classes. 5. Meditate Sometimes when I’m restless or stressed or anxious, the last thing I want to do is meditate. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to do – in fact it probably means I need to do it more. Getting you bum sat down and focusing on your breathing can help you relax. And in fact, a recent study found that mindfulness helped heavy drinkers to reduce their drinking so it may have a dual purpose on your quest to relax without alcohol. There are plenty more ways to relax without booze - in fact I think I could have kept writing this post forever! I’d love to hear how you relax without alcohol – please let me know in the comments below or tweet @dryjanuary. Check out Girl and Tonic for more tips about being alcohol-free.