Did you know that 78% of Americans feel stressed at least one day in a typical week - and 15% feel stressed every single day? As we get older and take on greater responsibilities, stress is an emotion that becomes more and more prevalent in our lives. It’s important to have coping mechanisms to deal with stress because too much long-term stress (also known as chronic-stress) can lead to various health problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. In fact, studies have shown that stress can be more harmful to the body than smoking. With greater demands and responsibilities, coupled with the endless stream of information we take in on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that people often turn to alcohol to self-medicate and quiet the brain in times of high stress.

The problem is, drinking alcohol doesn’t help with feelings of stress, it only masks them. Not to mention, relying on alcohol to cope in times of stress can lead to alcohol dependence. If “I need a drink” has been your auto-pilot reply to all stressful occurrences in your day-to-day life, you’re not alone. Read on to discover five ways to deal with stress without alcohol.

1. Mediation

If stress has you anxious, tense, and worried, consider trying mediation. Spending even just a few minutes in mediation can help you restore your sense of calm and inner-peace. By focusing your attention inwards and away from the situation that is causing you stress, meditation can help you gain a new perspective. The exciting part about mediation is that you can practice it wherever you are; whether that’s out for a walk or in between difficult meetings at work. The Reframe app offers guided meditations for those new to the art and may need some guidance.

2. Breathwork

Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after taking a deep breath? Focusing on your breath is a powerful tool that can help you ease stress and feel less anxious. There are so many different types of breathworks that can aid in the reduction of stress including:

  • The act of deep breathing which requires you to take large breaths, all the way into your belly.
  • Breath focus involves deep breathing while focusing on a picture or phrase in your mind that helps you feel more relaxed.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing a specific muscle group as you breath in and realizing it as you breath out. Do this from your head all the way down to your toes.

Whichever breathwork method you choose, try to not overthink it. This will only cause more stress.

3. Movement

People enjoy drinking alcohol during times of stress because it leads to the release of dopamine in areas of the brain that produce pleasure and reward. But, did you know you can acquire those same "feel good" hormones with movement and light exercise? Moving your body in any way whether that’s through walking, dancing, stretching, or exercising can ease muscle tension and induce positive feelings. Next time you’re feeling particularly stressed, try getting up from your chair and moving your body! You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel afterwards.

4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

When we are well rested, our capacity to cope with stress is much better than if we’ve slept poorly. Some tips for making sure you get a good night’s rest include going to bed and waking up at the same time daily, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and incorporating movement into your day.

5. Reach Out to Others for Support

If you feel as though stress is consuming your life enough to the point where you are self-medicating with alcohol, try reaching out to a loved one for support. You are not alone in this journey and chances are, there are other people in your life who are feeling the same way. In order to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, we need to be okay with being open and honest about how we’re feeling. Talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can help reduce your stress and anxiety.

Now that you have some tools under your belt for managing stress, take the next step and download Reframe to help you remain motivated, supported, and accountable.