10 Ways to Unwind Without That Nightly Glass of Wine

How can you relax without a drink? Here are some ways to replace alcohol as a way to relax – because alcohol isn’t the only way to relieve pandemic stress. Here are some non-alcoholic alternatives (some of which will give you a real boost of energy!).

Different ways to relax without alcohol

In this unprecedented era of confinement and social distancing, alcohol has become a major coping tool. A recent survey of 1,540 adults, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that alcohol use is up 14% from last year. Women appear to be particularly vulnerable, especially when it comes to heavy drinking. Meanwhile, another survey showed a 54% increase in alcohol sales between March 2019 and March 2020.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that alcohol can turn your life upside down almost as much as the pandemic. “Alcohol and other substances may make you feel good in the moment, but their long-term – and even short-term – effects can actually produce the opposite of what they were intended to do for you,” says Brittany LeMonda, a senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. It’s really important to choose healthy ways to relax.”

Here are different healthy and thoughtful ways to replace alcohol.

#1 Putting together puzzles

Like alcohol, puzzle sales have exploded since the pandemic began. By April, manufacturers had already sold out, and one company reported a phenomenal 370% increase in sales over the previous year.

Why, you may ask? According to Professor Marcel Danesi, there could be several explanations. One is that puzzles bring order to chaos by giving us a sense of control. And, let’s face it, things really do seem to be out of our control right now. Puzzles also distract us from the chaotic world we are currently immersed in and are a way to get the mind and body in sync. When your head and hands put together the pieces of a puzzle, confusion and uncertainty fade away. And that’s not counting the reward at the end!

If puzzles don’t appeal to you, try coloring books for adults (there are even pandemic-themed ones). A pre-pandemic study published in February 2020 in Academic Emergency Medicine found that people who waited in emergency rooms while coloring for about an hour suffered less anxiety than those who didn’t color. The bottom line? Emergency rooms and pandemics are two situations that generate a lot of stress.