10 things to do instead of drinking
With the winter nights drawing in, it's all too easy to reach for a glass of wine to help get yourself through another cold, dark night. Take a look at some suggestions of new hobbies to keep body and mind healthy and happy.
Dry January is a great opportunity to give up alcohol for a month. It allows you to think about the amount you’re drinking and break any bad habits. Here are ten simple things you can do instead of drinking alcohol to improve body and mind during January (or indeed any month).
New things to do instead of drinking
1. Join an evening class
An evening class is a good way to get out of the house, broaden your skillset and avoid drinking at the same time. It's a great way to meet like-minded people as well as opening yourself up to new ideas and hobbies. Why not try joining a sewing or bread making class, or even learn a new language?
2. Take up baking
Why not try your hand at baking? It’s great for calming the mind and helping you to switch off, making it an amazing alternative activity instead of drinking alcohol. “Explore healthy alternatives like beetroot brownies and banana pancakes,” says TerriAnn Nunns, founder of the TerriAnn123 Diet Plan.
Local councils are always looking for people to volunteer, and not only will it give you a purpose and make you feel involved, you’ll be helping others too. Please check your local restrictions to see if you can do this at the current time.
4. Join the local gym
Working out at the gym is one of the best hobbies to replace drinking, not only will you be healthier from avoiding alcohol, you’ll benefit from the exercise at the same time. However, it doesn't have to mean sweating it out on a boring treadmill. Most modern gyms offer a wide range of facilities and classes. Get your friends to sign up too so you’ve got some moral support. If you prefer a more budget-friendly exercise, why not get outdoors for an hour or two?
5. Leave reality behind
For an hour or two at the cinema or theatre. From action packed adventures to cracking comedies – a trip to the movies is perfect for those looking for things to do instead of drinking. Many venues offer cheaper tickets on certain days and evenings of the week.
6. “Make lists”
Says Laura Willoughby, campaigner and founder of mindful drinking movement Club Soda (joinclubsoda.co.uk). “The experience of putting it all down on paper will provide you with a template for what to do the rest of the month and is a distraction from drinking.”
7. Go for a walk
January’s cold, crisp days are ideal for wrapping up warmly and stretching your legs. If you can’t get out into the countryside, visit your local park on a sunny day. Not only is walking a good activity to instead of drinking, it comes with a host of great benefits for your body and mind.
8. Visit a new place
Travelling - near or far - is a brilliant way to broaden your mindset, and is yet another thing you can do instead of drinking alcohol. As there may still be some restrictions on travel, why not pick somewhere closer to home that you may not have realised was accessible?
9. Go to the library
“It’s free and allows you to pick up books you might not want to take a chance spending money on,” says Helen Foster, author of Quit Alcohol (For a Month). “My rule is to choose the first five books that catch my eye no matter what they’re about. If you don’t enjoy them you just take them back.”
10. Drink something else than alcohol!
If you're thinking what to replace alcohol with but you don’t want to miss out on a treat, swap your evening glass of wine for an alcohol-free option. There are a wide range of beers, ciders, wines and spirits on the market that look and taste like the real thing, but without the negative effects on your health.
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Medically reviewed by Llinos Connolly in December 2022. Next review date: December 2023.