Last week I was delighted to be back on the Eusebius McKaiser Show. We usually chat about how to GET sober but this time the emphasis was on how to STAY sober. We came up with 15 tips as we were prepping the show but once we got on air the calls flooded in and we didn’t get through our list!
So as promised here are those 15 tips!…
- Re-configure your life! You can’t just stop drinking and leave everything else the same – you will always feel as though something is missing. The key is to create new routines, find new interests and make new connections.
- Be ready to deal with your emotions. If you’ve been numbing your feelings with alcohol for years then it can be a shock to have to deal with them. Learn to sit with your emotions and know that they will pass. In spite of what you may think when looking at some Face Book or Instagram feeds we are not put on earth to be happy 24/7!
- Keep perspective. Recovery is not a linear process – there will be ups and downs but hang in there and you will make it. Celebrate those milestones – 100 days, 6 months, that first Soberversary – be proud of yourself – you are doing something amazing.
- Be prepared for cravings in the early days. Take a deep breath and they will pass within a few minutes. You are going through a grieving process. If alcohol has been your best friend then you are going to miss it. Avoid obvious triggers – bars, drinking buddies, stressful family gatherings etc.
- Set some goals for the next 12 months. When you stop drinking you have time on your hands. Time to achieve those things you always wanted to do. If you can’t think of any goals then book a couple of sessions with a life coach.
- Find your tribe! You need a support network of people who understand what you are going through. Go to AA meetings or join Tribe Sober. Get connected because “connection is the opposite of addiction”. To join WorldWithoutWine click HERE
- Discover your natural highs. If you’ve been relying on alcohol to give you a “buzz” for years then your brain may have got lazy and stopped producing dopamine. It can take up to 9 months for the brain to start releasing dopomanine again. Experiment to find new interests, learn a language, take a course, become a volunteer, travel. Do something creative – art, cookery, write a book!
- Have your go-to drinks. Experiment with AF drinks until you find your favourites. Be prepared to drink sparkling water at restaurants. If a glass of wine is thrust at you at a function be assertive. Ask them what alcohol free choices they can offer.
- Get moving! Make sure you have a daily exercise routine. Run or walk or box or go to the gym for at least an hour. Every.single.day. An essential mood changer which will clear your mind.
- Keep a journal. So many studies are showing the benefits of journalling. It will help you to process your emotions and track your journey to sobriety. Get those thoughts out of your head and into the journal to reduce your stress. Include a gratitude practice and note 3 things you are grateful for every day.
- Listen to music. Create a soundtrack to your life. Make playlists of your favourite music. A real mood changer – especially listening while exercising.
- Have your story ready. People are nosy and in our alcohol drenched society they will want to know why you are not drinking alcohol. You don’t have to tell them your life story. “I’m on meds”, “I’m driving” or “I’m on a 100 day health kick” will do for strangers. Confide in those people who care about you and will support you.
- Find your purpose!
“Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life.” Viktor Frankl
- In the early months you probably won’t enjoy socialising much but you must do it. Don’t become a recluse! Treat each event as a challenge to be ticked off and eventually your subconscious will register that you CAN have fun without alcohol and it will just get easier and easier.
- In the end it comes down to choice. Once you’ve crossed a line with your drinking then there is no going back. You need to choose an alcohol free life – and then do the work to make it a good life!