Nine healthy strategies for managing stress without using alcohol.
Physical activity. Moving our body and light exercise is great for stress. It eases muscle tension and induces positive feelings. Go for a walk, run, or stretch daily. Different forms of exercise provide different results, so try different activities to see what works best.
Connect with others. Seek support from peers, mentors, or trusted family members to talk through the stressful situation with. Sharing the details of stressors can eliminate some of their burden. If feeling overwhelmed by stress and are self-medicating with alcohol, reach out for help and get support to make healthier life choices.
Breathwork. Utilizing deep breathing techniques can help ease the physiological changes experienced when stressed. Most people are more focused and able to think clearer when the body is calm. Even the simplest 5-breath focus effort can yield incredible results.
Music. Many people have go-to songs for stress relief and zoning out. No matter what songs or style you find relaxing, listen to music for 20 minutes.
Sleep. A good night’s sleep enables people to cope with stress while poor sleep has the opposite effect. Incorporate good sleeping habits such as noise reduction, going to bed and waking at the same time daily, and avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or napping.
Altruism. Volunteer to help others. Research shows that altruism improves mood and takes our focus away from our own struggles. It can be as simple as helping a fellow Marine at work or volunteering for a community organization.
Mindfulness. Try a mindfulness technique to ground you by activating all senses. Here’s how: focus on five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This is just one version of mindfulness or paying attention to something without judgment.
Meditation. Meditation involves deliberately focusing attention inwards either with or without specific guidance. It can give a sense of calmness, while gaining a new perspective on a stressful situation.
Gratitude Journal. Five Minute Journals can change your perspective for the better. Try it every morning to help prepare for the day and shift thinking towards gratitude instead of resentment or anxiety.