Healthy Coping: 5 Tips To Help You Avoid Reaching for a Drink or Medication

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Turning to alcohol on a regular basis to cope is often the sign of underlying problems. Isolation, anxiety, depression, and boredom combined with easily accessible wine, beer and cocktails can be a destructive combination. Here are five tips to help address the issues that may be driving you to drink:

  • Visits are vital. Schedule regular virtual or socially distant outdoor visits with friends, neighbors and loved ones to keeps your social emotional relationships strong. Connection can reduce the likelihood of turning to substances to “fill you up.”
  • Move a muscle. Instead of picking up that drink, look for opportunities to move. See what's happening at your local community center or township building to go on a hike or take a yoga class. Find activities to occupy your time and entertain your mind. Skip the pre-dinner cocktail and head outside. Even a short walk around the block can get your natural endorphins going and boost your mood through fresh air and sunlight.

  • Write Before You Sip. Buy a journal and try writing some thoughts before you reach for that bottle. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel when you put your feelings on paper – and it will delay and distract you from your usual vices. You might even discover you have a hidden memoir in there.
  • Travel without leaving home. Audiobooks and podcasts are easily accessible and just an arm's length away. Instantly stepping away from your thoughts and into a new world can reduce stress, enhance contentment, and create healthy ways to cope – leaving bad habits behind. Likewise, cultural institutions frequently offer free or inexpensive programming and classes available online.

  • A Giggle a Day Keeps the Booze Away. An increasing body of research shows that laughter isn’t just fun – it can have immediate and long-term health benefits like boosting your immunity, improving your mood, and reducing pain. So, tuning into a show that makes you chuckle or watching your grandchild’s latest silly dance moves (even on FaceTime) is a healthier way to “take the edge off” than that extra glass of chardonnay.

Most importantly, if trying these types of activities doesn’t help you reduce or eliminate your need for substances, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Everyone is different so try to have fun exploring new things -- maybe even with a friend -- as you find what works for you. You may require a more comprehensive strategy to address your behavioral healthcare needs. I encourage you to seek professional help to learn about what approach is best for you.

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