Australia has a well-established drinking culture. Whether for enjoyment, relaxation, to quench a thirst or to fit in socially, people drink alcohol for a variety of reasons and in many situations. Some people rely on booze to help cope with boredom or everyday life issues, and this can become a habit. Unsafe drinking creates physical and mental health risks, and might affect someone’s school, work, relationships or finances.

Taking part in an alcohol-free activity or suggesting a booze-free catch-ups are helpful ways to promote a healthier lifestyle. Here are some places you can go to shift the focus away from drinking:

  • Physical activity. Exercise is key to everyday health and most activities can be enjoyed with a partner or in a group. Obvious ideas are gym classes, running, swimming or cycling, but the possibilities are almost endless. Maybe you can find a beautiful track for a hike, go rock climbing, take each other on at lawn bowls, or hit the ice skating rink. For a something a little more zen, try a local yoga or meditation class.
  • Sign up for a class. Gain knowledge or spark creativity by developing a new skill or practising a shared hobby. Whether it’s playing an instrument, dancing, attending a cooking class, learning a foreign language, or being inspired by arts and crafts, there’s plenty of healthy activities out there to distract from ones involving alcohol.     

    A yoga teacher sits on stage looking out over her class

  • Take in some culture. There's bound to be a movie, performance or other live event which catches your eye. While a lot of venues sell alcohol, the focus should be on the entertainment rather than the catering, and there are usually non-alcoholic refreshments available (arrive just in time for the event, so there’s less standing around beforehand).
  • Booze-free eating. At cafés and restaurants, food and alcohol often go hand in hand. But if the weather’s clear, you could load up on supermarket supplies, or takeaway, for a picnic. Don’t rule out sit-down eating completely – a Google search should list some options without an alcohol licence.
  • Back to nature. Stay outside to embrace your inner green thumb. Gardening can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve concentration and self-esteem. Get involved at a community garden, or visit a market or nursery to grab bargains for your own garden or veggie patch.

You'll soon realise that alcohol is not a prerequisite for having an enjoyable time. And you'll feel great the next day!

Related reading: Five things in nature to lift your mood

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