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Alcohol can be complicated for many people, and KB wants to explore some alternatives to sitting in the sun with an alcoholic drink.

There is something that happens, I have never really been able to pin it down; but when the sun creeps out and the sky isn’t overpowered by the daunting clouds we know too well, a lot of us get the urge to day drink. Lately, my sunny days have been filled with the frustrating feeling of suppressing this urge because I have found it too easy – to drink at the park at a pub at a barbecue etc. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink but as the sun comes out more and my drinking becomes more consistent, it is an understatement to say you can find yourself in a rut that isn’t as temporary as the woozy pleasurable feeling you initially get from 2 for 1 cocktails.

Consistently drinking can put a dent on your mental health and this can manifest itself in a range of ways. You might have realised that drinking results in a narrowed perception and intensifies underlying feelings which may result in anxiety especially if what is being fixated on is negative in any way such as a past trauma. Alcohol also depresses serotonin transmission in the body and this neurotransmitter has the role of mood regulation, therefore its inhibition may open an array of outcome; aggression, anxiety attacks and even depression. The hangovers a lot of drinkers suffer from, including myself, may seem like a temporary hell but if consistent; the lack of rest and disrupted sleep causes mental burnout and also affects other body systems.

Therefore, I have decided to make a little list of fun things to do with the pals that don’t include drinking just to try and sustain my mental health. Here goes!

1. Playing badminton:

The other day I took my speakers, some orange and mango juice, an old wall tapestry and journeyed to my favourite park with my closest friends. Full disclosure: that was the first time I ever played badminton. Although I was exhausted at even the thought of letting go of the comfort of my bed and laptop, it was actually very rewarding. Badminton demands a lot patience as a beginner but the constant silly mistakes are a source of laughter. You also have to run – a lot – therefore, it’s also a source of unintentional exercise that keeps those serotonin levels on a high. Also, being in an open space in nature is not only visually pleasing but does a lot psychologically because you embrace your surroundings and focus on that instead of the soul sucking stresses of life.

Life hack: badminton sets go for as little as £5!

2. Flower pressing:

While at the park why not pick out the flowers that have fallen down, take them home and indulge in some flower pressing? My housemate, Martha, is a fan of this activity. I think it’s a form of preserving good energy because what you create by preserving those flowers is a reminder of a lovely memory.

Also the process itself; picking out the right flowers and colours and visualising it before you create is a stimulating experience and I’d highly recommend it for anyone who is mentally exhausted, having a creative burnout and is need of some calm vibes.

3. Salsa classes:

dancing is an art-form that even today is sometimes not perceived as exercise by some (although it is) because it is simply more fun than other conventional methods of exercise. Salsa classes with a friend can enliven you; imagine laughing with your friends as you accidentally step on each other’s toes whilst envisioning yourselves as Dancing with the Stars contestants. The classes can go for really cheap and also boost your self-esteem, so I’ve heard.

(NB – I haven’t tried it yet but I am trying to go to places alone as part of my self-love journey so I might just brave this one out and laugh at myself.)

4. MasterChef it out:

Last week my friends and I made a Setswana meal and each of us had allocated ourselves a dish to make. Music was blasting and we were singing to our favourite jams and – we were just happy. All our senses were being stimulated and the night provided some friendly competition and banter between friends who have become family. Baking too can be an alternative option because it can be perceived as a form of meditation. The two activities demand one to be precise and attentive.

Additionally, you usually have to be resourceful with the ingredients which results in added pride when tasting the final product. Honestly, it is such an outlet and also a bonding experience; there are just so many ways to say ‘I am here for you’.

5. Movie Marathons:

I am a fan. I love watching things with my friends because of all the commentaries that we give throughout the movie; there is just so much laughter and so many critical and thought provoking reviews – it can get a bit noisy but a couch, a safe space and your friends screaming to a horror scene that you find funny is sometimes just what you need.

 

So there it is, my list of small joys that cost less, financially and mentally. There are so many more substitute activities out there either than drinking and I hope you all discover even more. Sending you all those positive serotonin-filled healthy vibes!

What are your alcohol-free activities that you enjoy during the summer? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

If you have something you want to say about mental health send us a pitch to cai.burton@freedomofmind.org.uk

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