How will I have fun with my girlfriends? How do I brunch without bubbly? How will I ever enjoy a party or a wedding?
Not to mention sober dancing or even sober dating! In other words – How will I ever have fun sober?
These are the questions which torment us when/if we decide to ditch the drink..
Indisputably those early days of sobriety do feel a bit “flat” – you feel just a bit “raw and exposed” and if all your free time has been devoted to either “socialising” (aka drinking wine with my friends) or “relaxing at home” (aka drinking wine while watching Netflix) then you will need to re-callibrate big time.
Here are 10 ideas to help you adjust…
- Create a mindshift – I think us drinkers tend to be hedonists – we also tend to be very successful/hardworking – “work hard, play hard” kind of people. When I got sober I began to think a bit more deeply about life – after all I now had plenty of time my hands!
I came across this quote by Viktor Frankl which was a bit of a “lightbulb” moment for me:-
“Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life”
The trick is to realise that we were not put on this earth to be happy every single minute – to be human is to run the whole gamut of emotions, to learn to sit with them – and know that they will pass. The upside of this is when you do feel happy it will be genuine and deep – not a brief chemical high.
- Dayfun – in Catherine Gray’s fabulous book “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober” she devotes a whole chapter to what she calls “Dayfun” – or you could call it “Normal People Stuff”. For everyone of us that loves to drink there are many people out there who are just not that interested in alcohol – and somehow they manage to have “fun”. They do things like going to the movies, hiking, playing with kids/dogs and enjoying nature. Just check out meetup.com if you are curious about “normal people stuff” – there are hundreds of activities on there.
- Feel the Awkward and do it Anyway! – socialising sober is something us ex-drinkers have to learn. The trick is to accept that it’s not going to be easy at first. Socialise sober – feel awkward – go home and journal about it. Again and again. It may take a few months but one day you’ll be writing up your journal and realise that it wasn’t awkward at all – in fact you had “sober fun” for the first time! – yay!
Your subconscious has now accepted that yes it is possible to have fun without drinking – who knew?
- Make a list – did you know that just crossing a task of your “to do list” will give you a dopamine hit and make you feel good? – not to mention reduce your mental clutter and give you a sense of progress. When our bodies have been relying on alcohol to make us feel good it takes a while for the dopamine transmitters to self-correct and do their thing, which is to give us some “natural highs”.
List making is just one way to get that natural high – here are some others…
- Meditation and Yoga – numerous studies have proved that these activities will boost your sense of wellbeing along with improving your flexibility and mental health.
- Exercise! – regular exercise has to be part of your journey – whether it means getting a “fitbit” and walking for 10,000 steps a day or training for a marathon find something that works for you and just do it – every.single.day. Apart from the endorphin release which will improve your mental state it’s a great way to deal with cravings. Of course while you are exercising you can
- Listen to music – music is so powerful at lifting our spirits and affects several different parts of our brain – make up your own sobriety playlist and enjoy!
- Get creative! – paint a picture, do arts and crafts, start a blog, take photos – any creative activity will increase those dopamine levels
- Eat dopamine increasing foods – you need essential amino acids and Tyrosine which you will find in eggs, green tea, watermelon, coffee (yay), almonds, bananas, dark chocolate (yay) and yoghourt – enjoy!
- Be Yourself – In her book “Quiet” Susan Cain explains that 50% of the population are “introverts” and the other half are “extraverts”. The pressures of our corporate and social lives require us all to become extraverts and some of us end up relying on alcohol to get us there. So use your sobriety to get in touch with who you really are – treat it as a journey of self-discovery and be true to yourself.
Finally its worth remembering that “happiness” (which is deeper and less transient than “fun”) comes from personal growth – it comes from finding something meaningful to do with your life and then working towards it.
Experiencing the full gamut of emotions will enable you to develop your emotional maturity as well as the crucial skill of resilience.
Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events.
Personal growth is a lifelong journey and the “process” of working towards it will bring you joy…
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