For many of us alcohol is intertwined with so many aspects of our health and wellness, social interactions, and our internal self. For many of us it is even our answer to stress.

Caitlin Padgett is a holistic health coach and women’s leader who’s willing to “go there” for the hard discussions and today she is going to share with us some alternatives to alcohol. For better self care when dealing with stress.

In gratitude and more,

How many of you unconsciously reach for a glass of wine at the end of a long or stressful day?

For so many women I know, this daily ritual is something that happens without much forethought… it’s what we’ve learned to do, and how we’ve learned to cope. We get pleasure from it, it’s easy, it’s soothing, and the effects are predictable.

The downside is that a nightly wine ritual can also lead to numbness, becoming entrenched in a habit that stifles creativity or spontaneity, physical and/or emotional dependency, and can quickly spiral into a more serious problem if we’re not conscious of it.

During my periods of sobriety (yes, I’m still an on and off abstainer… who is currently not drinking any alcohol) my evening wine relaxation ritual is often what I miss the most. I know many women who feel the same way.

That’s why I’ve developed this list of 12 strategies to relieve stress and anxiety and to relax, without alcohol.

  • Create a morning ritual to look forward to. This might seem counter-intuitive to relaxing in the evenings, but it works wonders to start your day with clarity, focus, grounding and balance. Wake up a bit earlier, stretch, do yoga, meditate, journal, drink your favorite tea, make a green juice, go for an energizing walk – whatever feels right for you. The key is to give yourself some “you time” before you launch into your day, which will work wonders for reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Go for a walk. Get outside and into nature if you can! Stuck in the middle of a city? Find a planetarium, atrium, or aquarium to visit.
  • Have a delicious aromatherapy bubble bath. Use scented blends specifically focus on calm, relaxation, or sensuality.
  • Light candles. Again, pick floral or plant-based scents which stimulate the limbic system and life force energy, or “food-based” smells like cinnamon, vanilla etc that provide comfort and coziness, while they turn on our senses.
  • Drink tea. Make sure to have your tea cupboard stashed with aromatic and delicious teas. I love teas that are named with a desired feeling, such as pleasure, calm, zen, relax etc. I find it helps trigger and tell me brain that that’s the experience I’m looking for. Pukka is one of my favorite tea bag brands. I also love teas with roibos as a base, and accents of honey, chocolate, cocoa, rose, vanilla. Remember that you are trying to create a sensory experience for yourself, so enjoy the taste and aroma.
  • Drink cacao-based drink. If tea is not your thing or not rich enough for the moment, try a hot cocoa made with raw cacao. It’s rich in tryptophan, which is a powerful mood-enhancer, crucial in the production of serotonin, which diminishes anxiety and has the same impact as love in our brain. Maca, a powered root from Peru, is also a great additive to your cocoa. It’s amazing for balancing hormones and is a great adaptogen that helps decrease stress levels. (see my cocoa recipe below)
  • Call a friend. Open up about how you are feeling. Ask her to tell you some jokes.
  • Stretch or do yoga while listening to relaxing music.
  • Have sex or give yourself some self-pleasure, or better yet, BOTH!
  • Treat yourself to a movie, or go to the theatre.
  • Cook a delicious meal. Again, go for sensory overload with beautiful colours, tastes and textures.
  • Book a massage or spa treatment. Go to a sauna or hot tub. Get hot and let your body relax.

The more of these tips that you can combine into one evening, the better! Think setting the mood and romancing yourself into blissful relaxing. Or, enlist a friend or lover to help you out if you don’t feel like being alone.

A really important overarching strategy is to think sensory pleasure. Wine (or your preferred end of day drink or nightcap) offers you more that it’s alcohol content. It has a taste, aroma, the bodily sensation you experience as you take the first sip, the way your body feels after you finish a glass (or three)… When experimenting with alternatives, it’s super important to create a similar sensory experience – delight and entertain and satisfy your senses… You will enjoy your wine “replacement” more this way.

I know that none of these will exactly replace that glass of red that you might be craving.  However, any combination of these alternatives will serve both you and your sanity, ease you into relaxation and calm the internal storm or stress.

Have I missed any tips? What are your favourite wine (or other alcoholic beverage of choice) alternatives? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Caitlin web headshotCaitlin Padgett is a Holistic Health and Lifestyle coach and founder of “Evolve,” an unconventional approach supporting women to redefine their relationship to alcohol, their bodies and their lives. For more information on Caitlin and her programs, please visit