Many people begin their drinking careers enjoying the effects produced by alcohol. People who may be naturally shy, withdrawn, or self conscious sometimes find that alcohol helps them to relax and open up socially. Other naturally gregarious people may find that alcohol “enhances” their social experiences. However, what starts off as an enjoyable way to unwind can quickly turn into a concerning dependency on alcohol—particularly because of its links to the nervous system. If you’re struggling to find ways to relax without alcohol, read on.
The Science of Alcohol and the Nervous System
Alcohol affects the central nervous system by altering the levels of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells. Specifically, it increases the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that produces calming effects. According to an article by Sukhes Mukherjee in the National Library of Medicine, “Alcohol interacts with the brain receptors, interfering with the communication between nerve cells, and suppressing excitatory nerve pathway activity.” This is why initially, alcohol consumption can lead to feelings of relaxation and reduced anxiety.
Alcohol Dependency and Relaxation
The use of alcohol as a relaxation tool can quickly escalate from casual use to dependency. It can be challenging to determine whether you simply have alcoholic tendencies, or whether you’re venturing into alcohol use disorder. If you’re asking yourself How many drinks per day is too many? some early signs of alcohol dependency include:
- An increasing frequency of alcohol consumption
- Relying on alcohol to overcome social anxiety
- Failing to fulfill work, school, or home responsibilities because of drinking
- Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol
- Experiencing health problems related to drinking, such as liver issues, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular problems, or mental health issues like anxiety or depression
- Having strong urges or cravings to drink
Ways to Relax Without Alcohol
Want to learn how to overcome social anxiety without alcohol? There are several healthy ways to regulate your nervous system.
Here are some tips to learn to cope with stress without alcohol:
Exercise: Physical activity, such as walking, jogging, yoga, or swimming, releases endorphins, natural mood lifters that can reduce stress.
Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness or engaging in meditation can help calm your mind, reduce stress, and improve your overall sense of well-being.
Deep Breathing Techniques: Simple deep breathing exercises can be incredibly effective in reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
Hobbies and Creative Outlets: Engaging in hobbies or creative activities like painting, writing, gardening, or playing a musical instrument can be a great way to unwind and focus your mind on something enjoyable.
Nature Therapy: Spending time in nature, such as hiking, walking in a park, or just sitting outside, can have a soothing effect on your mind and body.
Reading: Getting lost in a good book can be a wonderful escape and a way to relax.
Listening to Music or Podcasts: Music can have a calming effect, while podcasts on topics of interest can be both relaxing and engaging.
Social Connections: Spending quality time with friends or family, or engaging in community activities can provide support and reduce stress.
Warm Baths or Showers: A warm bath or shower can be soothing and help relax tense muscles.
Mindful Eating: Enjoying a meal mindfully, focusing on the flavors and textures, can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Guided Imagery or Visualization: Using guided imagery or visualization techniques can help calm your mind and transport you to a more peaceful place.
Practicing Gratitude: Reflecting on and appreciating the good things in your life can shift your focus away from stressors.
Getting Adequate Sleep: Ensuring you get enough quality sleep is crucial for stress management and overall health.
Professional Help: If stress and anxiety are overwhelming, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor who can provide strategies to cope without alcohol.
Transforming Lives at The Ohana
As a luxury rehab center on the big Island of Hawaii, The Ohana offers a comprehensive approach to recovery. Here, we’re exclusively dedicated to providing a rich, healing journey through medical detox and residential inpatient programs immersed in the spirit of Aloha. We believe that everyone deserves to lead a life free from alcohol dependency and are committed to providing the highest level of care and support.
Join Us at The Ohana
We understand the journey to recovery is unique for each person. Our alcohol rehab programs are tailored to meet the specific needs of our clients, helping them find peace and stability, and teaching them highly effective ways to relax without alcohol.
Don’t rule out luxury residential treatment just because of potential costs. Learn more about Ohana by reaching out to our admissions team and starting the process. We’re here to make it easy and financially accessible for you to get treatment and live the life you’ve always wanted.