What To Do Instead Of Drinking – 11 Ideas To Inspire You
When you have decided that alcohol should no longer be a part of your life, you will inevitebly find more time on your hands. But what will you do with this spare time? The answer – so much! There is a whole life out there without alcohol, it is now just a case of deciding what to do instead of drinking. I have compiled a list of inspiration for you to think about.
The time that you get back from not drinking alcohol is immense really. Morning times without a hangover, afternoons, free evenings – it does sound cliche, but you really are gaining a whole new life. The benefits of stopping alcohol is truly amazing. And with this, a whole new timetable to fill with fun and interesting pastimes. The benefits of stopping alcohol is truly amazing.
Some of these suggestions I have embraced with open arms and they have really helped me on my own journey to sobriety.
Exercise is a great addition to your sober life
Exercise releases endorphins – your natural feel-good drug. Instead of drinking, absolutely consider taking up some physical activity. The benefits are truly amazing. Removing drinking from your life, you will naturally feel more awake and alert. Adding exercise into your life’s routine will enhance all aspects of your life.
There are lots of sports or activities, that cater all levels from beginner to advanced. Maybe you just want to feel your way and start gently, especially if you have not been active for some time. Youtube is a goldmine of virtually any guided fitness that you could possibly want.
I would personally recommend the Couch to 5k programme. It is endorsed by the National Health Service UK, and in a nutshell, it is designed to get anyone who does not run or has never run before, to be able to run for 30 minutes by following their guided sessions.
What to do instead of drinking? – Try reading
Reading was something that I did as a kid and loved it. As the years have passed, I read less – and also with the explosion of the internet it became less and less that I actually picked up a physical book.
When I started my alcohol-free journey, I was recommended to read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. This was the book that was the catalyst for my teetotal lifestyle. Since then, I have started reading more and more. At first, I was only reading ‘quit lit’ books – books specifically related to becoming alcohol-free. As the months passed, I found that reading was a great replacement to fill my time for what to do instead of drinking alcohol all day and night. It has helped me relax, which has definitely helped me sleep better – a problem that I had a lot in the early days of AF (alcohol-free).
Now I read lots of topics, from motivational and inspirational books, to light-hearted stories, to educational topics.
Reading, coupled with lack of beer running through my system has certainly sharpened up my brain. In fact, The Healthline (see link below) cites the following benefits from regular reading –
improves brain connectivity
increases your vocabulary and comprehension
empowers you to empathize with other people
aids in sleep readiness
lowers blood pressure and heart rate
fights depression symptoms
prevents cognitive decline as you age
contributes to a longer lifeHealthline.com
I can agree with most of the reasons above from personal experience. When you are thinking of what to do instead of drinking, choose a genre that excites or interests you, and grab a book to fill your time.
Get into cooking as a replacement for your drinking habits
Now you have stopped drinking, your body is actually using all of the goodness from food and nutrients are swirling around your body making you healthier as the days go by. What better way to fill your time than to get your head into nutrition and cooking?!! Not only is it a fantastic pastime but you will be gaining or regaining life skills that you can eat and enjoy.
Consider learning a specific cuisine, maybe master how to cook the perfect Italian dish, or immerse yourself in Spanish food, or maybe Mexican might be to your tastes. I am getting hungry just writing this!
Seriously though, what could co more hand-in -hand when looking for things to do instead of drinking alcohol, than spoiling yourself with lots of food goodness. When I finally said goodbye to alcohol, being able to eat again was a pleasure that I totally forgot about – and it was like an old friend returning home when my appetite returned. Every morning I wake up and look forward to my pepper and onion omelette. It has been a staple meal for me, and I truly believe that it has been a major part of my own recovery process.
Get those pots and pans out, and get cooking 🙂
Find a new hobby, or rekindle an old one
As a kid, we all had hobbies that we enjoyed doing. Playing football or soccer, making dens, musical instruments, Lego (now available for adults too!)….we all had things that we simply loved. But as we got older, life takes over and we let go of our fun things. Time becomes a constraint and commitments become more – such is life, eh?
Well, when you have been drinking for a long time and committed hours to that pointless drug in your life, you are blessed with time back – so think back to what you used to enjoy and try your hand at them again!
Since becoming Alcohol-Free, I have been picking up my guitar more and forgotten just how nice it was to play. That is just one of quite a few things really that I have got back to doing. I have started running again, guitar, reading and even bought a violin!
I played the violin as a kid and had memories of really enjoying it, and being quite good at it. Turns out….I am not so good and sounds a bit like a hurt cat. But just picking it back up has brought back so many fond memories, times forgotten. Had I continued to drink, there is no way I would have had the chance to experience these feelings – and they are so nice! Even if my family are not real supporters of my violin skills, I am thankful that I have revisited this.
Also gaming. As a kid, I was an avid gamer – at the time it was all about the Atari – times have moved on now but it is still a lot of fun to play games.
When you consider what to do instead of drinking – think about what you enjoyed before you were drinking. Get back there and give it another go, whatever it is.
Volunteering can be a very rewarding way to spend your spare time.
Volunteering can make a difference to your community, help the environment, give you a chance to be part of a team and many other great things that can enhance both your life and the lives of others. What an amazing way to spend your time instead of drinking your life away!
When we use the word ‘volunteering’ – whatever the word may conjure up for you, it might not grip you right away. But with volunteering, the opportunities really are endless. You can get some inspiration here for some fantastic activities you can do in a volunteer capacity – plus it looks great on a resume, with potential or future employees usually very impressed that someone uses their own time for the greater good.
You have finally ditched the drink, now get out there and live life!
Spend more time with your family
After spending around 2 decades drinking, one thing that hit me hard was the things that I have missed out on. Ok, I was ‘there’ and did what was expected of me…but I really was not there for my family. I have learned, and now make sure that every second counts. Instead of drinking, instead of spending hours sat on the settee throwing beer after beer down my neck, I am now finding that I have the time AND the desire to make every second count.
Get out with your family, take them on a day out somewhere. It doesn’t have to even cost a penny other than throwing together some sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Go exploring your local area…something that people forget to do when they actually live there. If you have children, you are creating memories that will last a lifetime with them.
Maybe take a ball with you and have a kickaround, or just go for fresh walks. Check out some great family ideas here that you could do together if you need inspiration.
Whatever you decide to do, cherish every moment.
Focus on your mental health – sleep, meditation
When you were drinking, if you were feeling down or bored you may have often grabbed a drink of your booze of choice. By doing this, your brain learns to continue with the choices you make, and it turns into a habit. Using meditation can not only help break this cycle, but it can improve your overall feeling of ‘being in the moment’.
By using relaxation and meditation, instead of drinking to dampen your brain and thought processes, you are using your brain to learn to appreciate what is going on around you. In this list of ‘things to do instead of drinking’ – improving your overall mental health is one of the most productive things that you can do. For you. For your family. For those around you. For your life. Mindful.org – introduce five free apps that they recommend trying.
When you start to heal your mind and body, alcohol-free sleep is an absolute gift. I had long forgotten what it was like to wake up without either a hangover or at least some effects of what I had been drinking the day before. I would go so far as to say that sleeping has been one of the best changes in my life that becoming alcohol-free has done for my overall health.
Making yourself happy, focus on doing things that make you happy and the impact on your life will just amaze you 🙂
Take Up Writing
Writing is an excellent therapeutic tool, and also an extremely productive way to use your newfound time.
Writing has been used for years within therapy settings, with research showing that writing strengthens not just a person’s mind but also their immune systems. Writing is a fun, creative way of expressing a person’s thoughts.
Now that you have your mind back, instead of drinking your days away, use your mind to your full potential.
There are lots of learning opportunities for adults in most areas. Night school could be right up your street – literally! Since stopping the booze, I have gained 3 qualifications. Normally, qualifications for me were strictly related to work, but now I have learned new skills that I studied just for the fun of it. Consider taking a look at your local colleges and see what courses they run.
Maybe you want to brush up on the more traditional subjects like English, Mathematics or Geography – or you could fulfil a goal that you have had inside your thoughts that has zero to do with your career. Courses such as flower arranging, psychology or new digital skills could be of interest to you. The list of things out there is truly endless. Take a look, and see what catches your eye 🙂
Create A Blog
Ok, so I have a bit of a bias here. When I stopped drinking, I started this very blog. Aside from it helping me to focus on something else when I stopped drinking, I also learned lots of skills. All about how to actually create a blog, buying a website name, publishing online and lots of other techy stuff inbetween.
I have found blogging to be extremely therapeutic, and since doing so I have also helped others with their own drinking habits. I have learned about social media, getting the word out on the benefits of stopping drinking on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Blogging is an amazing hobby, and can be turned into a career if you were that way inclined. The world of bloggers is a massive one, and a fun world to immerse yourself into.
Asking yourself what to do instead of drinking? Enjoy nature
When I was drinking, it was rare that I actually paid attention to my surroundings. Now, I love getting out and exploring.
There are lots of great ways that you can get out and enjoy what nature has created. Birdwatching is a very popular hobby, and takes you co places that you may otherwise never visit. Another hobby that can be taken up is learning all about what types of plants grow in your area, or identifying different types of trees, or even collecting plants.
If collecting isn’t really your scene then you could consider just grabbing your bike and going for a long bike ride, swim in a local lake or river, or even just enjoy some fresh air at your local park.
Enjoying nature will give you more chances of learning and developing a bigger respect for wildlife and your surroundings. I love it.
Whatever you choose to do, I guarantee that it will be far more productive than wasting your life away guzzling down alcohol. And you will feel so much more fulfilled spending your time doing something that is so much more rewarding.
Enjoy your journey, and the ride 🙂