The day started with high hopes. Your plan was to get in a quick morning workout before going to the office to return some phone calls and check in with a colleague about a proposal due next week. You were really looking forward to catching up at lunch with one of your best clients. After lunch the goal was to stay out, taking time to pop in on a few clients you haven’t seen in awhile plus a new prospect or two.

You manage the workout but…it all goes downhill from there.

When you arrive at the office you find everyone gathering in the conference room for an impromptu sales meeting. When sit down next to your colleague you find out the proposal that was due next Friday is now due TOMORROW. As the sales meeting wraps up your boss reads a Post-It note reminder (her admin LOVES Post-Its) about the compliance training you’ve been putting off… which also happens to be due tomorrow. You take time to eat a real meal (vs the protein bar in your desk) only because you have a lunch meeting and you race back to the office to spend the afternoon with spreadsheets and webinars.

By the time you leave the office you are mentally and physically drained from too much sitting, not enough water, rapid-fire questions from your boss about the data you crunched and mind numbing web-based training. All you want to do is slip into your pajamas and watch HGTV with a glass of wine or two and put the day behind you.

I hate to burst your bubble but wine isn’t really helping you or your fitness goals.

In the moment a glass of Chardonnay does make the stress melt away. Popular culture also tells us (thanks Sex in the City) that it’s the way smart and successful women relax, but in the long term your nightly wine habit will only hurt you.

If your best coping mechanism is a nightly cocktail or two, here are few things I want you to think about.

  • Alcohol is not a good sleep aid.
    You may fall asleep faster but your sleep is more likely to be disrupted. You’ll have trouble reaching the deeper part of the sleep cycle (REM sleep) and wake more often during the night.
  • Alcohol calories are unlike any other.
    They CANNOT be stored and must be burned before any other calories consumed. That means while your body is trying to burn off the Pinot Noir, the calories from your dinner are probably being stored for later use.
  • Wine is not always heart healthy.
    There are actually a host of health issues that are made worse by a nightly glass or two of wine. Your risk of both heart disease AND breast cancer both go up with 8 or more glasses of wine a week (the amount formally considered heavy drinking).

This is why I want to offer you some alternative evening relaxation rituals.

Here is a list of 10 relaxation techniques you can do after a hard day to de-stress without worrying about how you’ll feel tomorrow.

  1. Have a cup of tea.
    Even in the summer, a cup of hot tea with ingredients like lavender or valerian help me wind down after a hectic evening in the gym. My current favorite is Sleep from Amoda Tea.
  2. Take an Epsom salt bath.
    This time honored recovery trick will help your muscles and mind relax. Add some lavender or rose oil for a real treat. If you’re used to sipping your wine in the bath try some sparkling flavored water or iced jasmine green tea instead.
  3. Drink your magnesium.
    The magic ingredient in Epsom salts is also found in supplement form. (Calm is my favorite.) Mix the powder in a little water before bed. Bonus points if you add it to your hot tea. (DO NOT drink Epsom salts!)
  4. Journal about what you are grateful for.
    A gratitude practice is a great way to put away the stress and focus on the joy in the day. It can be as simple as listing three things you are grateful for in your planner or create a dedicate gratitude journal to make it really special.
  5. Find a quite place (even if it is in the car before you walk in the house) to rest with your breath.
    If you need help quieting your mind, try a guided meditation from the Budhhify app. Let your body be still for ten minutes.
  6. Grab a grown up coloring book.
    Staying in the lines helps me let go of whatever is stressing me out. You can also do this while listening a good book on Audible to really block out the world for a bit. (May I recommend the Cormoran Strike series? You will lose yourself in the fast paced detective stories.)
  7. Walk the dog.
    Ten minutes of green exercise can do you a world of good. It’s not too strenuous (you don’t want to amp you back up before bed) and the dog might sleep a bit better too.
  8. Pet the cat.
    How you be stressed out with a cat purring in your lap? Impossible. She’s also a great listener so feel free to discuss your current office drama without judgement.
  9. Read aloud.
    Whether to yourself, your spouse or your cat, this is a great alternative to zoning out to the television. Find a classic you’ve been meaning to read  or something that will make you laugh. (Laughter is also great as a stress reliever.)
  10. Eat a snack.
    Foods rich in tryptophan like nuts, seeds, eggs, oats and turkey will help you sleep a little better. Don’t worry about eating after 7 pm. The calories don’t magically turn to fat.

I challenge you to try these rituals this week instead of your evening glass of wine.I know you will feel better by the end of the week. Sometimes we don’t realize how much a habit is really holding us back until we can step away from it.

Not convinced it’s a habit you do need to step back from? I also suggest giving the book Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol a read. It might give you a different perspective on moderation and more reasons to form a new evening relaxation ritual.

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