An essential piece of living a healthy lifestyle and achieving your body goals is taking time to de-stress and relax.
For many of us, that equates to indulging in alcohol, but alcohol is one of the worst things for your weight loss aspirations and general well-being. Most of us are aware of the dangers, but having a few drinks to unwind is a social norm that's deeply embedded in our culture.
Here's how to blow off steam, improve your mood, lower inhibitions, and relax naturally without the toxic empty calories of alcohol...
5 Ways to Relax Without Drinking Alcohol
Originally from the South Pacific, KAVA (or Kava-Kava) root can be purchased in a variety of forms including teas, supplements, powders, and extracts. It’s a mild sedative with a traditional history of social, ceremonial, and medicinal uses. Like alcohol, Kava eases anxiety, elevates mood, releases inhibitions, and promotes relaxation, but UNLIKE alcohol, it saves you the empty calories.
If alcohol is your go-to social lubricant or post-work tension-easer, Kava may be an alternative way to chill out and/or reduce social anxiety. Kava exerts its calming effects without diminishing mental alertness or transforming you into... THAT girl (you know, the one who texts her ex and loses her purse). It is non-addictive and won’t leave you with a nasty hangover.
2. Raw Cacao
Get on the RAW CACAO craze! In Europe, some club-goers are replacing booze (and other toxic mood-altering substances) with raw cacao. In high doses, raw cacao can induce mild feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and reduced social inhibitions. Whereas sedative alcohol can turn you into a drowsy, bumbling idiot, energizing cacao actually has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory (PLUS there is growing evidence of a correlation between regular cacao consumption and increased weight loss!)
(Try adding a spoonful of cacao powder to your favorite protein smoothie to craft your own guilt-free chocolate "milkshake"!)
3. Essential Oils
Rub ESSENTIAL OILS on the bottoms of your feet or your temples, inhale, or use a diffuser. Lavender, bergamot, chamomile, and ylang-ylang are just a few of the powerful oils that absorb rapidly into the bloodstream, quickly affect brain chemistry, and help to dissipate stressful and negative emotions. Essential oils smell awesome, especially when blended, so they can also double as your new favorite chemical-free perfume (Because they are extremely concentrated, just one drop goes a long way. You may want to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil like jojoba or almond to avoid skin irritation).
Skip the bar and get high on endorphins instead: GO EXERCISE! Running, swimming, or spinning are great ways to get your blood flowing, reduce nervous tension, and boost your mood. In general, keeping a regular exercise routine is one of the most powerful ways to promote a positive mental state and manage the stressful emotions that trigger cocktail cravings in the first place.
5. Drink Cold-Pressed Juice!
Cold-pressed juice can have a powerful influence on how you feel each day. That's because it is such a highly concentrated dose of essential nutrients.
It might surprise you just how much the nutrition you take in affects your state of mind. Although a person's mood and mental state is complicated and affected by many variables, the food you eat actually does directly impact neurotransmitter activity in your body and brain, your mental clarity, and your day-to-day energy levels. Thus, if your body is deprived of adequate nutrition, it can be a serious struggle to manage anxiety or to "think positively".
Leafy green juices, in particular, are a rich source of nutrients that play a major role in the way you feel including folate, magnesium, and selenium. They're also a spectacular way to instantly banish brain fog and boost your energy.
...And if you can't resist the urge to have a cocktail, try using cold-pressed juice as a mixer. It will help to prevent hangover symptoms and save you from empty calories!