Ten Ways to Celebrate and Feel Good without Alcohol

In my Facebook group yesterday, I was asked about ways we can celebrate and reward ourselves without alcohol.

You know the feeling…

You’ve got a new job, you’ve cleaned the house, you got through the day without screaming at the kids/boss/husband/every other driver on the road….you want to celebrate.  You deserve a drink.

But what if you are trying to quit, or you have quit?

How do you celebrate those moments of ‘I DID IT’ when you can’t crack open a bottle to raise a glass?

I put my thinking cap on and came up with 10 ways that I would choose to celebrate something amazing in my life!

Get your hair done

woman having her hair coloured

Instead of spending loads of money on a night out, which will leave you feeling groggy, hungover, shamefaced and ill the following day, why not spend the money you would spend on booze and get a new haircut instead?  The effects will last much longer, and you’ll be able to look at yourself in the morning and think ‘hey gorgeous’ instead of not wanting to look!

This could also be extended to other indulgences such as getting a massage, manicure, pedicure etc.  If you feel that you look good, you will feel even better!

silhouette of people dancing with disco ball above themDance to your favourite music

Music can touch us deeply in our soul, and can really spark some amazing emotional responses.  I have found myself crying for no apparent reason at music recently, to then find myself with an ear to ear grin at the next song that comes on, it is a remarkable thing!

Putting on the music that speaks to your soul, that brings your body to life, and moves your entire being can bring  such joy, can lift the lowest of moods, and can turn any room into a party!  Dancing freely and without inhibition gives you all endorphins of an aerobics class, but with the added benefits of the music and free expression of the music moving through you.

I used to think I needed booze in me to be able to dance.  Until I stopped drinking.  Then I discovered that sober I actually enjoy dancing more, I am better at it (less stumbling into furniture or people) and when I’m out, I don’t have to worry about spilling my drink!

Photo with grateful thanks to Bob Peters Photography (UK)

Long luxurious soak in the bath

AKA ME time!

Time spent in a warm, deep bubble bath, with some candles, music, a good book, facepacks, deep hair conditioning treatments, with warm, clean towels, clean pyjamas, creamy body lotion and a clean bed to get into cannot be beaten for the ultimate in self care and reward!  Throw in a plentiful supply of your favourite non alcoholic drink, and you’re set.  Get the kids to bed, tell the husband that you are not to be disturbed (or take him with you if for maybe a different sort of bath experience), and indulge.  Use some essential oils to create the atmosphere and get the emotional effects you are seeking.

Cook a really special meal

I’m not talking about throwing in some ready meals and sitting in front of the tv.  Get out the recipe book and cook something you have never tried before, maybe something you have always fancied, get the ingredients and make the whole thing an experience. Play some good music when you’re cooking, lay the table nicely, light some candle, use the best plates…make it an experience you will remember.  Invite friends around to enjoy it with you, or enjoy it on your own.  Get some fancy soft drinks as well to add to the special feeling of the meal, and bon appetite!


Get some culture

theatreIs there a film you have been really wanting to see?  Go and see it!  Check out your local independent cinemas, the local arts centre that shows more unusual films, expand your mind with cultural experiences.

Or maybe you’d prefer the theatre, the opera, the ballet, a comedy night, a rock gig, an evening of traditional Slovakian dance…whatever grabs your fancy, give it a try.  When we take alcohol out of the equation, we might discover that there is a world of cool nightlife out there that we didn’t know about!

Go out for a meal somewhere fancier than you normally would

shard restaurantIf this is a celebration, and you are looking for a real sensory treat, then why not try out that fancy restaurant that you keep looking at but wont go in because it is too expensive?  You won’t be drinking the wine, you could just ask for a jug of tap water to drink, and treat yourself to that beautifully presented, exquisitely flavoured, gastronomic delight!

Don’t forget to take a picture and put it on Instagram and tag @soberlivingrocks J

Have an early night!

woman sleeping in bedIf the reward or celebration is the result of lots of hard work (maybe you got a promotion at work but you’re exhausted from the stress of the interview), or just getting through a difficult day without reaching for the bottle, why not treat yourself with an indulgent….early night and great night’s sleep!

Don’t roll your eyes and think I must have just aged 40 years… I am not kidding.  There are few pleasures I love in my life now than getting into a clean bed, in warm, clean pyjamas, in a clean, tidy house and bedroom, picking up a good book which I can read without having to squint to make my alcohol compromised eyes work, drinking some herbal tea, listening to some relaxing music, then turning the light off, settling down and falling into a deep, restful sleep.  The feeling of waking up in the morning when I planned to, with clear memories, no furriness on my tongue, no shame, plenty of energy and optimism for the potential of the new day is one I will never tire of.  Mornings like this eluded me for decades when I was drinking, I get such a buzz from this.

If sleep has been something you have always considered ‘for losers’, then I urge you to give yourself this gift at least once, I promise you will want more!

Do some yoga

One of the reasons we drink alcohol is because alcohol mimics the neurotransmitter GABA.  GABA is a chemical messenger that affects the functioning of the nervous system, reducing the symptoms of stress and anxiety.  If our GABA levels are low, we are prone to stress and anxiety, and a glass or two can make us feel less so.

To a point.

If you are reading this, you are probably aware that beyond that point, alcohol actually contributes to stress and anxiety.

So how can we get that state of calm without alcohol?

Well, you can get GABA supplements, or you could practice Yoga (it had to come into the discussion at some point, really, didn’t it?)

Esther Nagle in her yoga room, happy and at peace in Sukka asanaYoga doesn’t just mimic the effects of GABA the way alcohol does.

Yoga actually increases the level of GABA in the brain!

This means that you don’t just get in instant “hit” of calm that disperses in time.

No, Yoga practice done regularly leaves you with overall higher levels of GABA in the brain.

Even one session will give you a massive boost!

No wonder yoga practitioners have that calm, happy glow about them!

So, for a great way to feel great and celebrate life, try some yoga, you will be feeling the high for days to follow!

Iced Tea Tea Time Tea Summer Person Tea PartyDrink tea with friends

Instead of getting the wine out, why not get the teapot out and have a tea party, grown up style?

There is an amazing array of tea available in the world these days, and, unlike alcohol, it has numerous health benefits!

Connecting with friends doesn’t need alcohol, it needs friends.  Get some unusual teas, some fancy china cups and a tea pot (charity shops usually have these in abundance!), and spend a fun evening experimenting with different teas.  You never know, you might discover a love of tea beyond PG Tips!

Go for a walk in the hills or by the sea

poppies and wildflowers in long grassI don’t know if there is anything that boost my mind, body and soul quite like being in the hills, surrounded by trees or by the sea.  Yoga, music, friends, learning, all do that, but there is something so special about breathing deeply surrounded by trees, wide open spaces, sea and sand.

I have had some of my most profound spiritual moments in the hills or at the coast.  I have laid waste to problems, unhappiness and overwhelm.  I have had some of the best conversations with people, sometimes having deep, life changing conversations with people I barely know.  I have felt my soul soar, my body sing for joy, my mind clear and get inspired.

I ALWAYS come back from time spent in nature feeling uplifted, joyful and inspired – even if I am cold and wet to the skin!

Time in nature as a way to celebrate something in your life can become a celebration of life in general.  Pay attention to the connection between you and the place you are in – breathe the air in deeply, experience it with all your senses, be hyper aware of what is around you, stop and watch the waves, the cloud, the trees, the birds, become part of nature and realise that you always were.  That truly is something worth celebrating!

We know that there are numerous ways that being close to nature helps us, restoring us emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

What would be your preferred way to celebrate?

These are just a few suggestions of ways we can celebrate the joyful moments in life without alcohol.

I am sure that you can think of many more.

If you would like to explore the ways that life can sparkle without the need for alcohol, the new 8 week programme, Sparkle in Sobriety, will guide you through ways to embrace a life of sobriety as a cause for celebration and joy, not a thing to be feared, or seen as a punishment.

Find out more here, or get in touch to find out more

Esther Nagle

After 20 years of alcohol addiction that she couldn’t and wouldn’t acknowledge, Esther was forced to face all her demons at once when she had a breakdown. This led her to Yoga Teacher training, where she learned to bring her demons out, to talk to them, to soothe them, forgive them and loosen their grip on her life. On October 12 2014, she decided she never wanted to feel the pain and shame of a hangover again, and, by living the yoga she was taught, she has been sober ever since. She is now a Yoga teacher, recovery mentor, author and host of the Sober Living Rocks podcast

One Response to “Ten Ways to Celebrate and Feel Good without Alcohol

  • Wow It’s Nice… for avoiding our alcohol addiction, you shared such grateful ideas, it is helpful to people, thanks for sharing such a nice article….

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