How to Unwind Without Alcohol

Wow, it seems like October is full of awareness campaigns – we have World Mental Health Day, Black History Month, Dyslexia Awareness Week, plus others (these can all be found on our free wellbeing calendar). It’s fantastic that there is so much awareness around these key areas!

October also represents National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. We think this is a very important topic to address, especially in relation to workplace wellbeing.

Many of us enjoy a glass of our favourite wine or a bottle of icy cold beer after a hard day! It helps us unwind, relax and put the stresses of the day to rest. Now, to pre-empt – we are not saying that you cannot do this! 

However, there are alternative means to help you to unwind, that are just as effective without the cost or the consequences that can come hand in hand with alcohol.

It is suggested that alcohol can actually cause the opposite of relaxation which may cause issues for some people. Some of these are as follows:

  • Alcohol can prevent you from entering the deep REM stage of sleep. This could leave you feeling “groggy” in the morning, and more tired than you would be without alcohol
  • If you suffer with anxiety and/or depression, alcohol can make this worse as it acts as a depressant on the central nervous system
  • Some alcohol such as wine or cocktails can contain high levels of sugar – this can lead to peaks and crashes in our blood sugar which can significantly impact our mood and ability to manage our emotions

We don’t judge anyone for their relationship with alcohol, however for anyone who may be sober-curious or considering other means of relaxation, we do want to highlight alternative ways of unwinding at the end of the day.

How to Unwind in the Evening

  • Read a book: Reading has a lot of benefits for us, and can naturally help our brains wind down. The lack of artificial light from a book compared to a mobile or TV will help you to fall asleep quicker.
  • Take a hot shower or bath 1 hour before bed: A hot soak in a bath can help relax your muscles which will also relax your mind. Be careful not to burn yourself!
  • Practice Yoga: Yoga is a fantastic way to wind down and relax any racing thoughts or stresses. There are hundreds of 10 or 20-minute guided Yoga videos on YouTube that you can use.
  • Guided Meditation: As with Yoga, meditation can help relax your mind and body. The great thing about meditation is that it can be done in as little as a few minutes! There are many guided meditation videos on YouTube.
  • Avoid Caffeine: Avoiding caffeine after 3pm can help improve your sleep. One study found that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime can reduce sleep by 1 hour. If you do have an alcoholic drink in the evening, be aware of some that may contain caffeine!
  • Journaling: Getting all of your thoughts and stresses of the day onto paper can help clear your mind and help you relax and sleep better. This is free!