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Guest Features2018-05-08T10:45:30+02:00

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7 Tips for Living Alcohol-Free

7 Tips for Living Alcohol Free

If you’re looking to cut down on your drinking or even you give it up entirely, there are some things you can do to make the process easier, from setting realistic goals to finding alternative activities to filling up your time.

There are many reasons why someone might choose to live alcohol-free. Perhaps you want to improve your health, or you’re trying to save money. Whatever your reason, giving up alcohol can be a challenge. Here are some great tips for living alcohol-free.

1. Get rid of all the alcohol in your home.

If you want to live alcohol-free, the first step is to eliminate all the booze in your house. You won’t be tempted to drink when you’re feeling down or stressed out. Give away any bottles of wine or liquor to friends or family members who don’t mind taking them off your hands.

2. Make a list of reasons why you want to stay sober.

When you’re trying to stay alcohol-free, it can be helpful to remind yourself of why you made this decision in the first place. Write down a list of your goals for staying sober, and keep it somewhere where you can see it every day. Refer to this list when you’re feeling tempted to drink.

3. Find a hobby or activity that you enjoy.

One of the best ways to stay sober is to find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. It can help take your mind off drinking and give you something positive to focus on. If you’re not sure what hobbies or activities you might like, try something new until you find something that sticks.

4. Spend time with people who support your decision to stay sober.

If you surround yourself with people who support your decision to live alcohol-free, it will be easier to stick to your goals. Spend time with friends or family members who don’t drink or try to stay sober. There are also many support groups for people trying to live alcohol-free.

5. Avoid places where you’re likely to be tempted to drink.

If you know that certain places will trigger your urge to drink, do your best to avoid them. It might mean avoiding bars, clubs, or other places where drinking is the norm. If you can’t avoid these places altogether, try to go with a friend who will help you stay on track.

6. Make sure you’re eating healthy and staying active.

Eating healthy and staying active is important for overall health and well-being, but it can also help you stay alcohol-free. When you’re taking care of your body, you’re less likely to want to damage it with alcohol. Eating healthy meals and getting regular exercise can also help reduce stress, which can trigger drinking.

7. Talk to someone if you’re struggling to stay sober.

If you find it difficult to stay alcohol-free, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Talk to a friend, family member, therapist, or even a support group. Sometimes just talking about what you’re going through can make it easier to handle.

Quitting drinking doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right mindset and a little planning, you can do it. Use these tips to help you make the transition to an alcohol-free life. You may be surprised at how easy it is once you get started.

If you’re trying to live alcohol-free, these tips can help you achieve your goal. Just remember to take things one day at a time and be patient with yourself. You can do it!

It may be time to consider taking a complete break and going to a rehabilitation clinic. Follow up your stay in rehab by joining tribesober.com to keep you on track! link for Tribe Sober

Rehab link for USA Clinic

What Drinking During my Alcohol-Free Challenge Taught Me

Hi! This is me, Nikki. Almost two years Alcohol-Free and only found Tribe Sober now! I have been a member of OneYearNoBeer and LoveSober from the beginning so I am happy to find a forum with more South Africans. I want to socialise with people on my kind of journey. This blog explains what I have learned being AF. Community is everything!

I Drank While Alcohol-Free During the Time of Covid

I came into The Time of Covid while on an Alcohol-Free challenge. Today, I am Day 280+2glassesofwine. Those two glasses of wine explain a lot about my alcohol-free journey, if you read between the words. From Day One, I was subconsciously waiting for that glass of wine – because when did my Alcohol-Free experiment end, and how?

Well, it didn’t end with those 2glassesofwine. It was strengthened by those 2glassesofwine.

I never said to myself “One Year” or “Forever”. Because I can test and change this experiment when I want. Because I did and learnt so much.  I learnt that I am still susceptible to life, even while Alcohol-Free, that I am allergic to alcohol and that giving away my newfound joy is pretty easy.

Stumbling into the Alcohol-Free Journey

In a god-send move, I went Alcohol-Free in October 2019 – well before Covid.

I woke up on a random Friday morning, to a sinking feeling before registering light. After a little party by myself the evening before, I got up dry-mouthed and scratchy-minded.  Kids, work, logistics. Same routine, so familiar, nothing out of the ordinary. But just a step closer to losing something, some rationality, the hope of something better than this. A step closer to crossing a line I did not know was there.

The uneasiness had been growing for a few years, and I remember asking my Hubby sometime in my mid-40s if he thought I should go to AA. But that is for alcoholics (!), he and I both agreed.  And I am not an alcoholic. If the definition of alcoholic is physical dependence. So no accident scene here – just keep on moving. Until that Friday morning, at the ripe young age of 48.

I didn’t think, I didn’t decide, I just did. The next day I signed up to OneYearNoBeer.

Lockdown and Financial Stress Taps into Old Wounds

So that first glass of 2glassesofwine was on a Friday after an angry week, the only time since going Alcohol-Free where emotions rolled through me rampant and prickly, like they used to.  I did not feel secure in my job in the early months of Covid lockdown. In my mind, the owners of the business were closing ranks and shifting me out to save costs.

This threw me back to when I was five. The ugly girl playing outside on the gym, only understanding that her playmates had changed their minds about her when she looked around, and found she was alone. Only this time, the boys had stolen her lunch money and Mom was certainly not coming to pick her up any time soon.

At the same time as my primary job was under threat, my second source of income – the family business – also came to a grinding halt, and started swallowing all available cash. Financial lack and loss came flooding back – a theme since my teens.  So I hit the button and had a glass of wine.

Drinking was Way too Much Fun and Then Not Fun at All, But I Wanted More

Hubby and I loved that first half an hour. We sat by the fire, reminiscing on the good old days of playing grown-up while having deep and meaningful conversations.  And the wine we had opened was a brilliant bottle of red we had bought personally from a wine farm in Cape Town. After hitting the button again and getting a top up, I found myself losing my train of thought and hiding the glass from my boys, as I had spent the previous months explaining the effects of alcohol on the brain.  After the wine, Hubby hit a mood downer before dinner, and I got a whopping headache within the hour.

Loved the Taste? Tick.  Loved the First Bit? Tick.  Hated the Drop? Tick.

The next Friday rolls around and, with the seal broken, we had another bottle of red. And suddenly I felt the well-worked road beneath my feet. I was back to having wine every Friday to unwind from a hard week. And I could clearly see the Thursdays and Saturdays and Wednesdays and Sundays and Tuesdays and Mondays creeping back in.

Because the question now would always be: ‘why not’? And I wanted to be back on the other side of alcohol, asking: ‘why bother’?

Giving up Too Much, and Knowing Too Much, to go Back

Thanks to those two [large] glasses of wine, I am now solidly, healthily petrified of losing what I have gained being Alcohol-Free. And it was apparently so easy to turn my back on it all!

Turning my back on the bright eyes and sparkly mind; wide awake start to my days; meditation as an anchor; the expansive space in my core. And on the flip side, no more underlying and constant anxiety (which I didn’t know I had until it went away, how is that possible?!) and no depression. I am fully present for Hubby and my kids, energy in the moment, not waiting to sit down and relax (with wine in hand). Steady-state and steady mood.

Finding the Peace that is Only Possible Without Alcohol

Free of alcohol and all grown up is the most peaceful I have ever been in my life.  A state I can always find my way back to, hopefully in the face of any global pandemic or personal depression which may be lurking around the next corner.

I mistakenly believed wine was a permanent life ingredient. Like milk. Which we all know now is completely a choice, even if you grew up in the 70s.  And drinking milk for some people brings on an allergic reaction. As does alcohol. Except alcohol plays with my mind making me want more.

And I drank a little alcohol, not milk, because of a very old, deep trigger. I unintentionally proved to myself that I am still susceptible even while positively Alcohol-Free. So note to self: stay alert. I proved that I am physically allergic, and that I have way, way too much to lose to play around right now.

 

 

OcSober Anyone? – Lebo Pule

So, most of you know that I went on an alcohol-free journey from 2019.

I had been trying to cut down my wine drinking since 2017 – and finally, from September 2019, I stopped completely.

I must just explain that I was a ‘social’ drinker like most sophisticated, upwardly mobile women. I drank expensive wine every weekend, at events, over lunches at restaurants. The idea was never to get drunk. I can count on my fingers the occasions that I was drunk. I drank my beautiful wine happily, you know, it was normal, it was social, it was a lifestyle.

But that started bothering me. I got even more bothered when I tried to have a wine-free weekend and I couldn’t!

That was in 2017. To cut a long story short, in 2019 I began a Sober Spring program that is run by the incredible Janet Gourand in September every year – and I never looked back.

I had not touched wine from that moment! I went through 2019 December wine-free! And the entire 2020. Yes, I think lockdown helped, I really do, but even after the government opened liquor sales, I didn’t go there.

Whenever I craved wine, I would have the non-alcoholic versions. Some are great – such as the Lotus range from Woollies. And some are just bad. I also rather enjoyed the non-alcoholic beers – especially Heineken.

So… this year, however, I had occasions when I had wine. About 2 glasses with company. I never have it alone because that’s part of the issue. I have probably had wine 5 times this year. And it’s been strange – my relationship with wine is definitely not the same. It no longer has that intense hold on me. I even forget it exists…

That’s all I wanted – to be in control of my life and not to struggle with impulse control. Now that I seem to have found that during lockdown, I’m wondering if I should stop completely… that I should lead a full-on alcohol-free life….  Decisions, decisions…

To be continued…

Anyone doing Sober Spring or OcSober? And also, if you don’t mind, how’s your relationship with alcohol?

 

This is from Lebo Pule’s Facebook page:

 

“Allow me to reintroduce myself: I am Lebo Pule, teacher and founder of stretchschoolsa. Aka Principal.

The school is officially open. We launched it on the 1st of September with a free mini-course. You are welcome to enroll and do the free course.

The free course includes:

  1. A mini-Orientation on the school and what subjects I cover. The orientation is also meant to let you in on my teaching style and vibe. If you vibe with me, well then you can stay.
  2. Basic Teachings on Understanding Universal Laws. I cover the first 3 laws very briefly.
  3. A summary of the overall laws.

 

Enroll and try it out. Who knows, the stretch program may just be exactly what you need.

Here is the link to join the school: https://stretch-school-sa.teachable.com/p/home

And here is the link for the free course:

https://stretch-school-sa.teachable.com/…/understanding…

Stages of Change Worksheet

Tribe Sober member, Lynn, kindly put this helpful worksheet together – to help anyone on their way to an alcohol-free life.

(Transtheoretical Model: Prochaska, DiClemente & Norcross)  

Changing your health behaviours (such as ditching the drink) can be difficult but NOT IMPOSSIBLE. We all go through different stages when changing our behaviour and if we have the right tools to move through each of these stages then we are much more likely to succeed in changing our behaviour.

We may have different goals (e.g. successfully completing the Sober Spring Challenge or staying alcohol-free) and be in different stages of change. Being able to identify which stage you are in and having a plan for moving through the stages makes it much more likely that you’ll be able to maintain your alcohol-free life 😊

In each of the stages, we need a toolkit i.e. different types of support, tools and resources to help us move to the next stage and to stay in the maintenance stage.

How can I move to the maintenance stage and make sure that I stay there?

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN, AND PLAN SOME MORE!!

            

  • Task 1: Identify the stage of change you’re in at the moment
  • Task 2: Plan what you need to do to move to the next stage and the next stage and …. until you have reached the maintenance stage
  • If you’re already in the maintenance stage then put together a plan to assist you to stay in this stage and to think about how you would handle a lapse/relapse
  • As you might move back and forth through the different stages, you may want to plan what you would do for the earlier stages as, if you move to a previous stage, it’ll be much easier to get back on track if you already have a plan in place

Below is a brief description of each of the stages and some suggestions for your toolkit.

Create a plan by selecting the tools you think will work best for you. You can also add your own ideas.

Tips: Be creative with your plan and make sure it’s easily accessible or visible. Keep adding to your plan as you discover new resources. Share your plan with the group so we can benefit from each other’s wisdom and experience. Be compassionate and patient with yourself as change can be tough. Add in a reward system – you deserve it!

Stage 1: Precontemplation stage

You have no intention of quitting drinking or you don’t believe that you can or should. You are in this stage if you don’t think that you have a problem or you think that you can successfully moderate your alcohol intake. Alternatively, you may not know that that drinking is harming your health or how beneficial living an alcohol-free life can be.

Toolkit: Start becoming sober curious and start listening to your instinct / what that little voice in your head is telling you about your drinking

Connection: Keep an open mind about what others are telling you about your drinking; connect to groups such as Tribe Sober, connect with others via the Tribe Sober platforms e.g. WhatsApp group, Facebook Live and Zoom Café

Knowledge: Find out more about alcohol and its effects on your health and wellbeing e.g. look for articles online, listen to podcasts and Facebook live, read quit lit.

Observe: Take note of the positive changes you see in others who have ditched the drink and who are thriving in their alcohol-free life.

 

Stage 2: Contemplation stage

You are in this stage if you are aware that you have a problem with alcohol and are thinking about ditching the drink (but you haven’t made any efforts to do this yet).

This is an important stage as becoming aware that you have a problem or can’t successfully moderate your drinking is a huge step. Many people find it difficult to move from wanting to quit to actually quitting. You may have been in this stage for many years or have suddenly realised that you want to quit drinking. With good planning and support, you CAN move into the next stage.

Toolkit: Move toward making the decision to ditch the drink 

Observation: Take note of your drinking behaviour and the negative effects it’s having on your health and other areas of your life. You may want too to keep a log or a journal e.g. How much you are drinking? What do you feel like the next day? How is alcohol negatively affecting your life? What are your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about alcohol?

Connection: Connect with others on the different Tribe Sober platforms. You’ll find that many of us aren’t able to moderate our drinking and that this isn’t anything to feel ashamed or guilty about. Sharing your story and listening to other people’s stories can be powerful and seeing that change is possible will help you to realise that you too can change.

Knowledge: Find out more about what to expect when you quit drinking and the amazing domino effect that doing this can have on other areas of your life e.g. look for articles online, listen to podcasts and Facebook live, read quit lit.

Change your mindset: Move from ‘I should quit drinking’ to ‘ I want to quit drinking. Complete Lucy’s Why Exercise to help you find your WHY.

Commitment: Make the decision to quit drinking and set a realistic goal e.g. try one of the Tribe Sober challenges or decide that you want to stay alcohol free.

 

Stage 3: Preparation stage

Now that you’ve decided to ditch the drink and have set a realistic goal, it’s a good idea to do some preparation. In the previous stage, you would have discovered that the first few days, and even a few weeks, can be difficult as your body and mind adapt (and protests) to no longer getting the alcohol it’s used to getting. Don’t worry too much though as it does get easier and planning ahead will help.

Toolkit: Practical steps to take

  • Set a quit date. Print your tracker. Download an app to count your sober days, get motivational messages and see how much money you are saving e.g. ‘I am Sober’
  • Attend a workshop and/or book a coaching session
  • Make an appointment to see your doctor if you’re worried about experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about vitamins you can take
  • Know your triggers: Write a list of things that are likely to trigger cravings
  • Coping with cravings: Write a list of things that you can do when you experience a craving e.g. wait for 20-minutes, go for a walk, listen to music, drink an alcohol-free drink, do something creative, reach out
  • Stock up on alcohol-free drinks or other alternatives e.g. sparkling water, herbal tea
  • You may crave sugar so stock up on some sweet snacks (ideally healthy ones)
  • Write a blacklist (list of all the things you regret doing when drinking). You’ll need it for the next stage
  • Decide what you will tell people if they ask you why you aren’t drinking and how to respond to people who are pushy
  • Buy another journal – you’ll need it 😊

Some people prefer to move straight into the action stage. If this is you, then you can incorporate some of this planning into your plan for the action stage.

Remember to keep connecting with others and carry on gaining as much knowledge as you can

 

Stage 4: Action stage

This is the stage where you have changed your behaviour i.e. ditched the drink 😍😍 Well done!!

Everyone’s experience of this stage (the early days of being alcohol-free) will be different.

Toolkit: Keep connected, look after yourself, use your tools and add to them if needed

Connection: Keep connected with the Tribe Sober members on the different platforms and to family/friends who are supportive. Social support is very valuable in this stage as it can help you to stay motivated, get advice, support and encouragement, and to be accountable (e.g. by sharing your tracker). It’s important to reach out to others if you feel lonely or the cravings are intense.

Self-care: Take it one hour/day/week at a time. Look after yourself and give yourself what you need (except alcohol). E.g. if you’re tired have a nap, if you’re hungry eat something if you’re anxious to do something relaxing such as deep breathing, meditating, having a hot bath, listening to music. If you’re bored do something e.g. a new or creative activity.

Tools: Keeping track of your progress on your tracker, journal writing, reading your blacklist, playing the movie forward (think about what will happen and how you’ll feel if you do have a drink), using your coping with cravings list, update your toolkit if needed, reward yourself. In the early days, it’s a good idea to avoid situations/people that are strong triggers.

Knowledge: Keep listening to podcasts, Facebook Live and reading quit lit. You can find a list of recommended books on Tribe Sober’s members’ area.

 

 Stage 5: Maintenance stage

In this stage, you’re working on staying alcohol-free and resisting the temptation to drink again. There’s no set amount of time that needs to pass before you move into this stage. However, research shows that it takes 66 days to create a new neural pathway so, it’s likely to be sometime after that. You should notice a change in your mindset, a feeling that ‘you’ve got this’ and that you don’t want to go back to drinking again.

This stage isn’t only about staying sober but also about personal growth and moving toward thriving in your alcohol-free life. To do this you will need to develop a deeper understanding of yourself, your relationship with alcohol and other issues in your life that you need to address.

Toolkit: Resisting temptation, tools to help you thrive in your alcohol-free life

Resisting temptation: Read your blacklist, play the movie forward, have alcohol-free alternatives available, plan ahead for situations where you know there will be alcohol available or that you strongly associate with drinking, keeping your tracker up to date, and share it on the group to stay accountable. Get the support of a sober buddy.

Changing your relationship with alcohol: Identifying and overturning your limiting beliefs about alcohol, celebrating your sober firsts (e.g. the first time you had lunch with a friend, went to a wedding or went on holiday and didn’t drink), writing your goodbye to alcohol letter.

Knowledge: Keep listening to podcasts, Facebook Live and reading quit lit. There’s always something to learn.

New activities: Now that you’re alcohol-free, you’ll have more time (and money) and you’ll be feeling more focused and clear-headed. This is a good time to start a new activity/hobby/project/venture.

Personal growth: You may find that new thoughts and feelings emerge for you (particularly if you were using alcohol to numb your inner world) or that you become aware of issues that you need to deal with (e.g. unresolved trauma, relationship and family problems, problems at work). Journal writing can be helpful for understanding and expressing these thoughts and feelings. However, you may also want to consider seeing a psychologist, counsellor, or life coach if you feel this will be beneficial for you. On the Tribe Sober website members area, you’ll find the contact details for a nutritionist, yoga instructor, hypnotherapist, happy brain coach, root cause therapist, and art therapist.

Paying it forward: 1) Staying connected on the different Tribe Sober platforms will be beneficial for you. However, it is also beneficial to the other group members. Sharing your story, progress and achievements can be inspiring to members who are thinking about quitting, signing up for a challenge or who are struggling to get to this stage. You can also provide valuable advice based upon your own experience of, and struggles with, ditching the drink and staying sober. 2) Consider becoming a sober buddy.

Relapse/Lapse

A relapse is where you return to your old drinking behaviour. A lapse is where you slip up once after a sober stretch and then go straight back to being alcohol-free again.

If you experience a relapse or lapse it’s important to view it as a learning experience (not a failure). Don’t be hard on yourself and make a plan to quit drinking again. It’s also important to reach out to others for support and advice.

If you can identify what triggered the relapse/lapse then you can work out a plan on how to deal with that situation/event/feeling in the future so that it doesn’t trigger another relapse/lapse.

Ode to TribeSober … The Journey …

Not only do our tribe members have big hearts but they also have talent.

Their creativity knows no bounds and as they thrive in their alcohol-free lives they write some beautiful testimonials – and today we received our first ever ode.

Written by Flic – in the pic – with her zebras.

The Tribe Sober team are blown away – thank you Flic, you made our day!

 

The ode to the journey is months in the making ….

An ode, for those who are asking, 

 is a lyric poem in the form of an address to a particular subject,

written in varied or irregular metre …

It is here for the taking (or not!!!)

 

The journey began …  Janet remembers… (she does, she remembers !!)

When my enquiry was made (shiver my embers),

About ditching the drink, and what could I do …?

She sent me an e-mail …. I thought … Flic, it’s on you!!!

 

Many months passed, and a bunch of things changed,

My job got more toxic, I was deranged!!

I decided to quit, the job and the booze….

OHHH, what a step … it ain’t any cruise!

 

So: there this wonderful journey began ….

Can I do Sober Spring … yes, yes I can!!!

The WhatsApps came streaming,

I was half screaming …..

 

But ditching the drink, YES WE CAN!!

 

Sue was a marvel, in setting the platform,

She asked a few questions …. (not just “the norm”!)

Goodness me, what a blitz to the brain….

Flic, can you do this? snow, shine or rain?

 

On the 30- day sober journey was I….

And the WhatsApps came streaming, oh could I cry!!

The fellow challengers all shared their bit,

Oh my, it was tough for this struggling git!!

 

But ditching the drink, YES WE CAN!!

 

After the 30 days, Workshop came next,

Man, what a game-changer, direction, context!!

Then came Lynette …  priceless gem, insightful, wise,

Then Belinda – hypnotherapy, compassion, she heard my heart’s cries.

 

The journey has helped to re-find my “me” ….

Caring, soulful, compassionate, gentle, loving, free.

The “me” that alcohol made tough, distant, absent, destroying,

Thanks to you all, there is no more “maybe”.

 

 Our journey continues, thank you to you all,

Continue to love as you answer each call.

It’s not all a cruise, nor a walk in the park,

But thanks to this Tribe, the future’s not dark.

 

Lucy came in … and said “pink” vs “black” …

You wonderful soul …. I’ll always keep track!!

Lucy’s tracker is a gift, a true friend,

I’ll track to whenever …. Including the end!!

 

Janet, my friend, you’ve got such a big heart,

You take us all in and say “here’s the start”.

You guide us, encourage us, show us the way …

You are gifted, dear Janet … no more can I say.

 

 

TRIBE SOBER TEAM

Belinda, Sue, Lynette, Lucy and Janet

 

 

 

 

 

An Introduction to Intermittent Fasting

Have you ever tried fasting at all? Fasting is not about starving. It is all about taking notice of good nutrition, and allowing the body to have time to digest good foods. It may well be another diet trend but one that is worth investigating.

This article is written by Thomas Sheehy, a yoga instructor and natural health coach with a special interest in diet, nutrition and lifestyle education. He offers personalised programmes for individuals and presents workshops on anatomy & physiology, nutrition, and digestive health. Thomas is currently undertaking MSc Adv. Complementary Medicine (Research & Practice).

If you are already a member of Tribe Sober, simply click on the “nutrition” Icon (in the members area) for more info about Thomas’ offer. If you are not a member yet, sign up HERE.

Intermittent fasting is a broad term for a variety of ways to manipulate the timing of food intake in order to improve body composition and overall health. Intermittent fasting is commonly grouped into ‘alternate-day’ fasting and ‘time-restricted’ feeding. Each form of intermittent fasting utilizes different periods of feeding and fasting.[1]

Alternative-day fasting may consist of 24hr fasts followed by a 24hr eating period, and can be done several times a week, such as a 5:2 strategy when there are two fast days mixed into five non-fast days. Time-restricted fasting may include 16hr fasts with 8hr feeding times; for example, eating only between the hours of 10am-6pm; or other similar versions such as 20hr fasts with 4hr feeding windows.[2]

Although intermittent fasting has gained popularity in recent years, humans have actually fasted throughout history. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators or food available year-round; meaning we couldn’t always find anything to eat and our bodies have evolved to be able to function without food for periods of time.

Intermittent fasting can induce a ‘ketogenic state’ which signals a switch from fat storage to fat utilization, resulting in decreased low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and increased high-density lipoproteins (HDL) levels. This change from using glucose as energy to using fatty acids and ketones for energy is called ‘intermittent metabolic switching’ and promotes weight loss because processing ketones requires greater energy.[2]

 Similarities and differences between intermittent fasting and caloric restriction[1]

 By relieving the body of the work of digesting foods, fasting allows the system to rid itself of toxins; enabling healing and repair of damaged tissues. During a period of fasting the following things occur;[3]

  • The process of toxin excretion continues, while the influx of new toxins is reduced.
  • The immune system’s workload is reduced, allowing it to concentrate on existing inflammation and allergies etc.
  • Fat stored chemicals such as pesticides and drugs are released from body tissues.
  • Physical awareness and sensitivity to diet and surroundings is increased.
  • A fast can help to cleanse the liver, kidneys and colon; purifying the blood, aiding weight loss, diminishing water retention and improving the appearance of the eyes, hair and skin.

A word of warning

Despite the benefits of fasting, it must be undertaken with care. A body that is overloaded with environmental pollutants can produce unpredictable reactions as the cocktail of chemicals hits the bloodstream. Common side effects of fasting include headaches, nausea, dizziness, skin rashes, increased body odour, aching limbs and muscles, insomnia and more.

Fasting is contra-indicated during pregnancy and breast feeding, in infancy, for people with kidney and liver disease and anyone who regularly takes prescription drugs.[4] People with medical conditions should consult their medical practitioner prior to undertaking a period of fasting.

However, for those who can weather the initial storm the rewards are great; increased energy, concentration and even intuition, as well as decreased pain and inflammation are commonly reported.

“To fast is to abstain from food while one possesses adequate reserves to nourish vital tissues.

To starve is to abstain from food after reserves have been exhausted so that vital tissues are sacrificed.”

– Joel Fuhrman

Certain precautions should be taken during fasting. Fasting on water alone can release toxins too quickly leading to ‘detox crisis’ symptoms such as headaches, nausea and worse. Additionally, although a typical diet provides too much salt, fasting usually provides too little. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy you might include some broth in the diet.

There is no single diet that meets the needs of every person; individual needs vary depending on factors such as physical activity, plus mental and emotional wellbeing; and are also influenced by age, gender, body size and physique, exercise and workload, physiological and biochemical characteristics, personal tastes and preferences etc. It is recommended to consult with a nutrition expert before undertaking any form of fasting, in order to tailor a fasting programme to suit your individual needs.

 

References

1: Tinsley, G.M. and La Bounty, P.M., 2015. Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutrition Reviews, 73(10), pp.661–674.

2: Dong, T., Sandresara, P., Dhindsa, D., Mehta, A., Arneson, L., Dollar, A., Taub, P. and Sperling, L., 2020. Intermittent Fasting: A Heart Healthy Dietary Pattern? Physiology & Behavior, 176(3), pp.139–148.

3: Balch, P., 2010. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 5th ed. New York: Avery.

4: Murray, M. and Pizzorno, J., 2012. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. 3rd ed. New York: Atria.

 

 

 

Sober Diary Reflections – Eusebius McKaiser

Eusebius McKaiser is South Africa’s favourite chat show host.

He facilitates an essential national dialogue on Radio 702 every morning from 9 to 12.

I have been on his show several times and he came to one of our workshops as a guest. He has been a wonderful support to Tribe Sober and has now sent me this fabulous guest blog – enjoy!

I last had alcohol on the 31st December 2018. Giving up alcohol is a process rather than an event.

I have noted a few of my reflections as I feel they may be useful for people trying to cut down or quit as well as their friends who are still drinking:

  1. Alcohol is the only drug you have to justify not taking

That is how much the consumption of alcohol has been normalised in society. No one asks you why you aren’t taking cocaine or looks weirded out if you say you have stopped taking cocaine …. or cigarettes … or fast food … or pretty much any substance or activity that may be harmful. Yet we sometimes shame someone who has stopped consuming alcohol into JUSTIFYING sobriety. Pure madness.

TIP FOR DRINKERS:

Do NOT ask someone who orders a non-alcoholic beverage why they aren’t ordering an alcoholic drink. Just don’t. It is a choice that doesn’t need to be explained. Any more than you need justify why you do not want to consume any product or substance you do not feel like having. It might FEEL like a mere conversational moment or sincere curiosity but I promise you it will cost you NOTHING to not ask. It will also HELP someone trying to form new habits to not feel your (unintended even) pressure to drink. Put differently – what will it cost YOU to not probe? Mind your own choices.

TIP FOR SOMEONE TRYING TO CUT DOWN OR QUIT:

You owe no one an explanation. When you first start out, you will workshop, perhaps even with a community of sober folks all trying to survive the social pressures of quitting, all sorts of “social strategies” for how to “survive a barbecue/the pub/outing to a sporting event”.

Sure, this is fun initially- rehearsing cheesy jokes about your decision, pretending to be nonchalant, etc, but quite frankly all of this eventually becomes tiring because you have to prepare mentally to help other people feel comfortable with a choice you are making about YOUR BODY.

While easier said than done, simply be firm and assertive. When I am feeling chatty, I might say one or two things about not drinking alcohol. But most of the time I do not respond to someone’s thirst (pardon pun) for some epic story of why you quit or why you cut down.

I must confess it is sometimes fun seeing someone dealing with their lack of satisfaction at your lack of explanation. Because they need to wrestle with why it bothers them. Not my drunk monkey. I am too old to be justifying a perfectly acceptable choice.

  1. There is a limit to how much liquid you can consume

Initially, you will buy and drink substitutes. I still do. Like zero percent alcohol-free beer. The first time you order these or buy them to take with you to dinner, you feel so guilty that it is not “real alcohol” that you will VOLUNTEER your “sin”, because you too will, in the beginning, feel self-imposed pressure to explain yourself. But after a while, you stop announcing that your bottles, that LOOK like beer bottles, do not contain poison. And that is socially easier – talking of “social strategies”. Because if no one notices then you won’t be badgered by anyone to explain yourself.

But here’s the fascinating thing. After a few outings, you will no longer be able to consume the same amount of non-alcoholic drinks as your mates are consuming alcohol.

Because if you are not getting drunk, you are too sober to ignore your brain telling you that you are full!!! So the first time I quit for long periods, I would stock up on gallons of virgin G&Ts, beer, etc. Last year this time you may even have seen me making recommendations for the best ones on the market.

Now, one 6 pack of alcohol-free beer in my house can last me months. Because it is simply not natural, while watching a rugby game, to consume an insane amount of LIQUID without feeling sick. When that happens, you have to confront the social habit of always having something in your hand.

Because if you accept that your body cannot handle excessive amounts of liquid, then you have an empty set of hands and that feels weird. But, over time, you will stop being bothered. In the interim, just nurse the same bottle of water/alcohol beverage substitute for a long while.

TIP FOR DRINKERS:

Now that you know to not pressure a mate into downing alcohol with you, just be a sweetie and when you go to the bar, ask, “Eusebius can I get you another water, bud?”

And while you’re being a sweetie, resist the well-meant chirp you wanna add before or after asking this. It is hard for many people to quit drinking, don’t add to their struggle.

TIP FOR SOMEONE TRYING TO CUT DOWN OR QUIT:

Just because your mate is now a sweetie and not pressuring you, don’t “reward” them socially by saying yes to every water or soda offer. If you’re full, you’re full. You are mates because of who you are; not because you buy each other rounds, and if the latter is the main or sole basis of your relationship, then there is a deeper problem here anyway.

And it is okay to leave the club or pub before the rest of your friends, by the way. You do not need to feel compelled to leave together at 3 am just because you arrived together, sober still. Give yourself permission to not want to be with drunk people until the last round is called. You’re an adult. Own your agency.

  1. You cannot bypass anxiety

One upside of drinking alcohol is that your social life is not something you have to think about.

Your weekend is easily plotted and choreographed because it revolves around drinking. In addition to that, the buzz you feel when you get tipsy also allows you to drown out any information your body is conveying about not being well, physically or mentally.

That is why many of us bypass anxiety, for example, by drowning, in alcohol, the messaging we are getting from our bodies.

Sobriety is challenging. You cannot ignore your anxieties. You are too sober. You can only ignore it by finding new distractions – other addictions like excessive exercising or emotional eating or other drugs or even technology addiction, or sex addiction…

Don’t waste your sobriety by substituting alcohol. Sit with and through your anxieties and if you lack the tools to do so, seek help. Therapy is under-rated. Getting drunk isn’t therapy. It is simply avoidance.

  1. An unexpected gain – time!

The single biggest gain when you quit consuming lots of alcohol is time. It is 11 pm right now and it is Friday. If I was drinking, this would be a post related to drinking. As it happens, I am reading, thinking and reflecting on other stuff.

Even more shocking, when you first manage to cut back, is that you will wake up early on weekends. For one spectacularly obvious reason – you did not pass out. When your body is well-rested, it has no biological reason to remain in bed – if you’re not dead.

Anyone who quit successfully is laughing in recognition of what I am saying here. I know because it is the most unexpected gain people experience. You usually TRY to quit to lose weight, to stop being a drunk ASSHOLE, to save money. No one says, “I wanna quit because I want to gain time!” So when you DO gain time, it is the oddest little bit of joy.

WARNING: You will, initially, waste the time you gain because you are not used to it. What the hell are you supposed to do with yourself at 8 am on a Saturday morning? Eventually, you will plan ahead. Try new things. Go to the gym. Make Saturday mornings your preferred time for going to the barber, etc. Initially, it is weird to be well-rested on a Saturday morning.

Call that [to borrow from an excellent book title worth seeking out and reading], The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober.

PS: If you can handle your drinking, drink on. This isn’t a post motivating an alcohol-free life. It is simply reflections on the journeys many silently go through when they wish to quit or cut down but struggle. Respect each other.

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Sober Spring 2020. A Retrospective. By Andrea

What a trip it has been, this 66 Day Sober Challenge. A roller coaster of emotions, with days of elation followed by days of despair. I started the challenge out of desperation, and ended it empowered.

By my late twenties I started to realise that my drinking was no longer under my control. Since I did most of my drinking alone, and was high-functioning at work, I could get away with it.

But my drinking began to terrify me. I knew I wasn’t in control because I kept breaking the rules I made for myself, often a mere 8 hours after I made them.

7am: I am NOT drinking today. 5pm: Drinking again.
I needed more accountability. I read about the Sober Spring Challenge and decided to commit. I was not (and still am not) comfortable with quitting ‘forever’, but needed something longer than a month. 

Other than a Sober October in 2018 that I white-knuckled through, sober stretches of more than 4 days have been very rare in the past 7 years. I have been reading about alcohol misuse, sobriety, addiction, etc extensively in those years. Quit-lit, scientific articles, blogs, podcasts – volumes of it. But only by engaging with these concepts after a significant period alcohol-free have I been able to fully absorb all of the information. Through a sober, clear-headed understanding of the biology of alcohol addiction and the alcohol-centered nature of society, I have for the first time been able to forgive myself for my past actions. 

My alcohol-free period has enabled me to plough through a long list of neglected ‘life admin’ – things that often did not require much time or effort, but simply being hangover-free and willing to start. Ticking items off the list has been incredibly rewarding and freeing, and created the momentum to tackle larger issues in my life that required attention.

I have also rediscovered the pleasures of reading for hours, drinking soft drinks or hot chocolate, watching a movie (and remembering it!), buying nice things for myself instead of for my wine rack, sleeping well….

I fell in love again with my adoptive town of Robertson. I spent hours walking through the streets of this beautiful town, appreciating the beauty. I took in a cooking class, went hiking, browsed through pretty things at the Market, even visited gorgeous wine estates! 

Since I didn’t lose days to hangovers, I was always up for whatever social event came up, and, ironically, I ended up being more social during the challenge than I normally would’ve been when I was drinking!

I also realised that while I tended to blame certain types of events for me drinking at them (as if I had no control over what I put in my mouth, which is ridiculous), often I was the instigator of alcohol being consumed at them at all: always first to order a drink, always topping up everyone’s glasses or ordering another round. In the last year, when my drinking escalated dramatically, I have become afraid of social events where I knew I was going to be drinking; I couldn’t trust myself to behave responsibly and it terrified me.

There was a time close to the 50-day mark of the challenge when I was frighteningly close to giving up. For almost a full week, I struggled with intense cravings, lack of motivation, and questioning my motives. I was thinking about drinking multiple times a day, and I constantly felt mere moments away from relapsing. But I committed to 66 days – whatever happens – so I pushed through with the help of the wonderful Tribe Sober community, and the Universe rewarded me royally. The rough patch was followed by days of pure joy, pride, and freedom.

The Sober Challenged stretched from 1 September to 5 November. Often during the 66 days I would worry about what I was going to do on 6 November, especially since it fell on a Friday. Would I drink? If so, how much? Will I be able to handle it? Will I do it alone or with someone?

Two weeks before the end of the challenge the answer came in the form of an endurance walking event for charity. Date: 7 November. I wanted to take part, and I knew I had to be sober for it. I entered immediately and prepared myself for the event. I had a blast. Not only did I win the event, but I raised a handsome amount for worthy causes, and had the opportunity to commit myself more closely to a charity that has always been close to my heart. I would never have been able to do this if I still drank. 

I have never been comfortable with the commitment to NEVER drink again. In fact, nothing triggers wine cravings as much as the thought that I’d never drink again. And I have started drinking (and, painfully, bingeing on) alcohol again since ending the challenge. But it IS different. After 66 days of experiencing the joys of sobriety, I can no longer drink without the awareness of what it will cost me. I am forever grateful to Tribe Sober for helping me get to this place where, at 33, I finally feel in charge of my own destiny. As is clear from this email, I still have lots of work to do, but I have hope. And this story WILL be continued. 

Thank you Janet and Tribe Sober.
– Andrea

“Alcoholics? None of Them Work Here. I’d Sack Them Straight Away.” by Jerry Rudd

Is that your take on alcoholism?  You would recognise an alcoholic straight away – most of them live on a park bench, and the others are always drunk and really violent.  And if anyone confessed to a problem, would they be sacked immediately?

Actually, it is not as easy as that. 

Alcoholics like these do exist, but they are a minority: there is no such thing as a typical alcoholic.  Many of them continue to function, and hold down responsible jobs, sometimes at a very senior level.  They can be male, female, young, old, rich, poor, pleasant or unpleasant.  Some are social drinkers, some drink alone in a bar, and some drink at home.  Also, it is not quantity which defines an alcoholic: it is the inability to control drinking.

This not to deny that alcohol is a problem.  According to the charity Brake, up to 35% of road deaths worldwide are related to drunk driving, and working in a warehouse while drunk is equally dangerous.  Both are unacceptable. On the other hand, addiction is a serious mental health issue which must be treated as such. Sacking people at the first hint of a problem will result in the problem remaining hidden, and increase rather than decrease the likelihood of drunk driving.   Establishing a policy which takes account of both these issues is a difficult challenge, but it is one which must be met.

Most non-recovering alcoholics deny, even to themselves, that there is a problem. They may blame some external factor, and convince themselves that drinking is helping to relieve stress, whereas actually it does the opposite. They may be able to exert some control, for example not drinking for a few days, and use this to convince themselves that they are not alcoholics.  In reality, unless someone is prepared to admit to alcoholism, or indeed any other form of addiction, they will not be able to begin recovery.

Once that important step has been taken, help can at last be given.  It is extremely rare for an alcoholic to be able to stop drinking without help.

Some also misuse alcohol. This is not the same thing as addiction, and we refer to its use as in too great a quantity and/or at the wrong time.  Some non-alcoholics regularly drink too much, with a long term effect on their health.  Others drink to excess only occasionally, perhaps at a party, and some people only get drunk once in a lifetime. A driver who drinks two pints on Friday night, and next drives on Monday morning, is not misusing alcohol.  However, if they drink two pints in the middle of a shift, or eight pints the night before, they would be. 

Alcohol Policies

I strongly recommend that every organisation establishes a drug and alcohol policy.  This should be designed to deal with problems quickly, effectively, and consistently; to protect employees and others; and at the same time encourage people to seek help. 

The policy might include:

  1. Recognition that an alcoholism is illness 
  2. Providing education and training for managers
  3. The importance of early identification and treatment
  4. Assurance of confidentiality
  5. Help available, from managers, supervisors, company doctor, occupational health departments, or outside organisations
  6. Is alcohol testing included?
  7. The disciplinary position. In my opinion this should be very different where an employee comes forward, admits to a problem, and seeks help; compared to a case in which they admit the problem only after being found working under the influence of drink
  8. Provision of paid sick leave for agreed treatment 
  9. The individual’s right to return to the same job after effective treatment and any conditions that may apply, such as the use of alcohol locks on vehicles 
  10. Whether a second course of treatment will be allowed in the event of a relapse
  11. Termination of employment on grounds of ill health where treatment is unsuccessful
  12. Policy with respect to convictions for offenses outside the workplace.

Some would say that different policies should apply to different groups of employees, but I would disagree.  For example, a stock record clerk might not be in immediate danger while sitting at a computer screen, but may carelessly leave a trip hazard for others in the office. Or might need to enter a more dangerous area, for example going into the warehouse to check on some stock.  To suggest that a truck driver should be dismissed for drunk driving, but that a sales director who does so after entertaining customers should retain their job, is to my mind indefensible.  My view is that the policy should apply equally to everyone. 

Treatments Available

There are several types of treatment available.  There is no right or wrong type: different people respond better or less well to each.  Indeed, many find that they need more than one type of help in order to enter recovery. Anyone with a drink problem would be well-advised to consult their doctor, but some, understandably, prefer not to do so.   

Options include:

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous, the most famous organisation, which has helped millions of people world-wide to achieve sobriety since it was founded in the 1930s. 
  2. Tribe Sober, an international online network – hold workshops and meetups via Zoom – 8 step program for subscription members – tribesober.com
  3. Other self-help groups.  There are countless smaller organisations, many of which do excellent work
  4. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). This is based on the idea that one’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected
  5. Counselling.  This might be a brief intervention, perhaps as little as 10 minutes, which can be effective where someone is not yet addicted. Longer, repeated sessions will be needed in more serious cases. 
  6. Medication.  This should only be used when prescribed by a medical practitioner 
  7. Residential care. Typically, a 28-day period, during which a variety of therapies are offered.  This can be expensive if you are self-funding, but many people will feel that is justified, as it may save their life.  

CONCLUSION

Alcohol policies require a difficult balancing act.  On the one hand driving and other activities whilst under the influence can be very dangerous, but on the other, alcoholism (and drug addiction) are serious and life-threatening illnesses which should be treated as sympathetically as any other illness.

Implementing a drug and alcohol policy will in narrow terms cost money, but this should be more than offset by benefits in improved productivity and reduced accident rates.  

There are legal obligations on employers to manage this issue, to prevent employees becoming a danger to themselves or others.  I would strongly recommend the drafting and implementation of a drug and alcohol policy by every company as a key step in doing so. 

– Jerry Rudd

Jerry Rudd is the author of “Health and Safety in Logistics”, published by Kogan Page, which is available on the Publisher’s website or on Amazon.  This includes chapters on mental health and drug and alcohol policies, as well as on other aspects of Health and Safety. 

 

The Signs of Alcoholism in the Workplace – by John Gillan

As an ex HR Director (who would often go out for a “business lunch” involving wine, I know this is a tricky subject). 

So I was delighted to receive this guest blog from John Gillen.  John is a former jockey who became dependent on alcohol as a result of his career.  He is now sober and helping others through his work at the Rehab Clinics Group.  He has a fascinating personal story which you can read here and below is his article about alcohol at work. 

Regular use of alcohol is, unfortunately, bringing a significantly negative impact on the quality of our working lives.

Being an employer, you need to understand more about your employees. You may not understand at first what it is that is bringing down the performance of your organization.

However once you understand more about alcoholism, its impact on performance, and how to curb this situation you will be able to solve the problem.

Here are some tips on how to identify signs of alcoholism in the workplace.

The Rise of Alcoholism in the Workplace

Alcoholism can sometimes be the result of workplace stress and pressure. It can be the result of job burn-out through failure to meet the expectations or deadline pressure. As pressure continues to build up, the alcohol problem continues to progress, leaving the employee psychologically dependent on the substance.

Once an employee is in this state, alcohol consumption will build up as a habit and it will damage the physical and psychological health of the employee. It will also damage their career.

With this in mind, it is of great importance to know the signs and put in place proper measures to curb this situation.

Signs of Alcoholism in the Workplace

It is very difficult to spot the signs of alcohol abuse in the workplace without previous addiction or exposure to alcoholism.

However, there are some signs to identify alcoholism in the workplace:

Workplace Performance

Poor performance can be a result of personal issues and a direct indication of a change in behaviours and habits. As an employer, when you see a drop-in performance, additional unusual mistakes from employees who are commonly known for hitting targets then it could be linked to alcoholism.

Attendance

Frequent absenteeism often indicates that alcoholism is present. When an employer receives an unusual phone call with a number of sick excuses it means that the employee could be masking the effects of alcoholism, or they are in need of time to abuse further substances.

Workplace Relationships

When you realize that there is a deterioration or long-term breakdown in relationships between employees, it can be a sign of long-term alcoholism. Some employees may experience persistent disagreement with their seniors concerning poor time management, performance, and absenteeism.

Also, there will be a change in priorities and behaviours of those who abuse drugs as opposed to their colleagues. It may be difficult to spot this but when it persists, it could be an indication that alcoholism is present.

Behaviour

The continued use of alcohol has a negative impact on one’s psychology. When addiction is in place, some changes will be experienced in the brain, and as a result, the brain undergoes a cognitive modification. This may change the behaviour of an employee.

They may become stressed, irritable and uncontrollable, or even experience frequent changes of attitudes.

Health

Have you discovered your employee’s health is deteriorating? The employee might have fogged or bloodshot eyes or other physical signs.

Recognizing the above signs, it is important that you take the right measures.  The deterioration in workplace performance, frequent absenteeism, long term disagreement, and misunderstanding among employees, could be a sign that alcoholism could be present.

Curbing Addiction and Mental Health Issues in A Business

If alcohol consumption is becoming an issue in your organization, it is advisable that you take the respective measures effectively.

Despite the fact that it may affect the progress of an organization, it is important to use a compassionate approach when dealing with this matter.

The first measure is to put in place a workplace policy, designed with the help of the human resource team to help secure the future of the organization. This will guide you and the entire organization on the right ways to curb this issue in your workplace, and also help encourage treatment for those affected.

Once you have agreed on the possible measures and the proactive plan is in place, it is now the right time to open up to those who are affected. The approach may be unwelcome, yet it is the right approach once they have admitted and are willing to accept any support from the business.

You can now set your intentions with the aim of letting them join the treatment program from the specialist.

If you are finding it difficult to approach your employees regarding this issue, try reaching out to Rehab Clinics Group. The admissions team can run through the best alcohol treatment options for you, alongside the next steps to take.

Addiction is a Family Sport

Jahara is a rehab Centre in Limpopo and it must qualify as one of the most beautiful settings for recovery.

It incorporates many different aspects into its treatment program including many of the wonderful and beautiful things about Africa. From the roaring lions heard at night, to the backdrop of the Drakensberg mountains, recovery at Jahara becomes the start of a wonderfully exciting journey of recovery.

Tribe Sober’s Dr Judy recently attended a week-end workshop at Jahara and has kindly written up her learnings:

“In Exodus of the Bible it is said that the sins of the father will be visited upon the children for three or four generations. I never understood this. It seemed so unfair.

However, recent twin and family studies have shown strong evidence that addictions involve interplay between a variety of genetic and environmental factors. So, although our children can inherit the propensity to become addicts, we as parents can influence the environmental factors and educate our children on the dangers. I believe that the best way to teach is to lead by example. It doesn’t help to say alcohol is dangerous and then pour copious amounts of it down our throats. The power lies within us to break the chains of addiction which has often been passed down the generations before us.

Addiction affects the whole family, not just the addict. Peaceful loving homes become divided by the stress caused by alcohol or drug abuse. Conflict between all the family members becomes normal as the disease progresses. Trust erodes as the addict desperately tries to keep his addiction going. Relatives end up walking on eggshells in an attempt not to provoke the addict. Families become isolated in an attempt to keep the addiction secret. They become bewildered and frightened by the changes in their loved ones, for example, the rages the addict experiences when under the influence of alcohol. These shenanigans can lead to severe trauma or unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as co-dependent behaviour.

It doesn’t help, therefore, treating the addict in isolation. The whole family needs treatment. They have become as sick as the addict and need to learn new coping skills on how to handle this family disease.”

Dr Judy Brewer, March 2020

Reflections on Relapsing

Whether you are a Subscription Member or have attended a workshop you will be entitled to a Recovery Coaching session – Lynette is our wonderful Jozi based coach and here is a thoughtful and insightful guest blog from her – thank you Lynette x

 

I was often perplexed at myself that after taking a break and feeling better, I still went back to drinking. First moderating and then back to over drinking. Why?

I had given up twice for over a year and found myself drinking again, heavily, in what seemed like almost no time at all.

The Problem

The problem I found was that I remained the same. I was still feeling lousy most of the time. My life still sucked, my motivation was not up either. I was still numbing out with food, Netflix and shopping and still I wasn’t feeling motivated or a peace.

I tried meditation. It was not fun, it was excruciating being still and I could not halt my thoughts. I felt very achy a lot of the time. Getting older, arthritis – I thought. I noticed the depression coming back. This was usually when I would go back to self-medicating with alcohol.

So what changed this time?

It was so subtle. I was getting many insights from the Tribe Sober tribe – the Whatsapp group. I was a voyeur on the group. Slowly the sharing started to sink in. I felt connected.

Connection Saved Me

Around 3 months of being AF, a friend told me about a colleague who was busy with a coaching diploma and was looking for people to coach. I didn’t know much about coaching, in fact I thought it was a bit shallow and for goal setting. Since I was so low, I decided to give it a try. After the first session I didn’t feel different or feel that the session was effective. However, I had committed to some actions and 5 more sessions. Our coaching ended after six sessions. I noticed some subtle positive changes. I was eating better, reading, going to water aerobics and connecting with my husband. I felt a lot lighter.

I went to coffee meet-ups and met up with some of the tribe. I reconnected with our Jo’burg Facilitator and yogi, Nick, and he encouraged me to do a coaching diploma.

Becoming a Coach

It was a requirement of the programme to have a coach. This was going to be one of the best decisions I made. Coaching helped me to go within, to get in touch with my feelings, to set boundaries and learn the skill of creating new positive habits. I learned about my feelings, how to describe them – where they sat in my body. I slowly started to feel joy and gratitude as a vibration in my body. One morning I realised the pain was gone – no more aches.

Some of the most important skills I learned from coaching were self awareness, compassion and taking action.

  • Self Awareness. I learned this skill from doing daily thought downloads and meditation. Thought downloads help me to identify my think, feel and act cycles. Some of the new empowering thoughts and beliefs I adopted are:

Everything is for me

Trying to control everyone takes away my power.

My ability to respond is limitless.

I am 100% worthy and loveable no matter what I do.

Life is always going to be 50% wonderful and 50% dreadful.

There is nothing wrong with hard.

Discomfort is my friend.

  • Compassion: I learned that being kind to myself is not letting myself off the hook. It is learning to do the hard and the tedious. Keeping to a daily ritual even when I do not feel like it. I noticed how critical my self-talk was and started deliberately talking to myself as I would to the dearest person I know. Rather than judging and being critical, I started acknowledging myself every time I did something positive, like stuck to my ritual, went dancing when I did not feel like it, persevered with my coaching diploma when it got hard and stressful. So often I would give up on goals because it became hard e.g. not finishing my psychology degree, bailing on work opportunities etc. I embraced my insecurities and my fears of failure. I had failures and I high-fived myself for trying.
  • Action: Learning to take action vs procrastination. Asking myself regularly how to direct and guide my own life vs just reacting. I now plan for how I want to make decisions in the day. My morning rituals are scheduled in my diary. I plan for my feelings, for example, I often don’t feel like going to my dancing class after a long day at work. So I allow for 5 minutes of feeling this and then I change into my dancing clothes and off I go. It’s in my diary – so I am learning to plan ahead and to stick to my commitments. I am also learning to notice how good I feel afterwards.

Truths I Have Learned

In closing, I want share some of my newfound truths. I regularly tell myself that I am not having a bad day, I am just having some bad thoughts about my day. I always have a choice, I get to decide how I want to see myself. If I am growing, and I am putting myself out there, 50% of the time I am going to be dealing with self-doubt and frustration. This does not mean that there is something wrong with me – I am human. It comforts me to know that almost every person I know experiences shame and anxiety. It reminds me of my humanness and that the negative emotions are also part of the deal.

I am learning that creating a new neuro-pathway takes time and energy. Learning to not self-medicate with drinking, eating or shopping was a huge struggle, it was hell, it was challenging and difficult. That is also what made this journey so worth it.

I learned that the motivational ra-ra is not going to get me into action and that it is not simply about thinking positive thoughts.

Mostly I am learning that when I detour I can come back every time with kindness and grace. This is how we build a new neuro-pathway – a new super highway.

We have a choice to either remain exactly where we are right now or make some changes and in 3 years, we can evolve to a completely different place.

Remember what we consistently do is what we get good at. So if we consistently drink that is going to be our reality. I chose to get consistently uncomfortable and what an adventure these past 3 years have been. It has been so worth it – all of it.

 

Whether you are a Subscription Member or have attended a workshop you will be entitled to a Recovery Coaching session – you can contact Lynette on Lynette.LeRoux@nulldeginvest.de

Laura’s Story

Tell us a bit about yourself Laura?

So about me. I am getting to my mid-50’s and loving every minute of that. My self-framing is as single, though I have a brilliant long term partner. We choose to live separately. We laugh freely and share richly. I have also chosen not to have biological children, and have always had active and fulfilling interactions with children and young people. I work in higher education. I am a happy person, free-spirited, with a critical, enquiring mind – at least I think so!

When did you start thinking you had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol?

For about a year I made many promises to myself to cut down, tried to do AF days, and never stuck to any of that. Deep in myself I was increasingly worried about how much I was drinking but I didn’t voice this to anyone. I was still socially functional [or so I thought – no-one gave me any indication that my behaviour was embarrassing]. I could drink a lot and stay the course at functions. But more and more I started to drink before going out, and then again when I got home, blanking out into bed night after night. I knew that my relationship with alcohol was increasingly unhealthy, as I came to know that I could not moderate my intake. I was also starting to worry about what it may be doing to my physical well-being, silently, inside my body, my organs, etc.

What were your objectives when you subscribed to Tribe Sober?

To take a break from drinking, to re-calibrate. To prove to myself that I could stay AF for the 66 Sober Spring Challenge, which is what I first signed up for.

What have been the main benefits of Tribe Sober membership for you?

There are so many. Probably central is the consistency of communication and the total non-judgementalism of the space. The extent of participation is totally the choice of each person. You can be as quiet or as chatty as you wish to and feel able to be at any time. There is also an incredibly rich sharing of resources.

How long have you been Alcohol Free – and how do you feel?

Today [9 Jan 2020], I will finish 3 months and 16 days! I am super-happy, and experiencing beneficial changes on so many fronts, physically and mentally.

What was your first month of sobriety like?

Unpredictable, gritty, needing constant conscious commitment each day to not drink. And also to plan for and anticipate situations, such as social outings and work functions.

Did you have to go back to “day 1” often or did you stay firm once you had made your decision?

So far, I am staying firm and feeling more and more confident about this choice.

What are the best things that have happened to you since you stopped drinking – and the benefits of being alcohol free?

Probably what amazes me over and over again is the beauty of being fully present, all the time. I am energised. I am “lighter” – things seem easier. I have SO much more productive time. I remember each and every thing of each and every day. And I am having as much fun as I ever did, laughing, and feeling self-empowered.

What do you say when offered an alcoholic drink?

I tend to make sure I have an AF drink or sparkling water at hand when I am socialising, so I just say, I’m good with this thanks, and hold up my alternative drink.

If you could go back to a time when you were drinking what would you tell yourself?

“You are not in control, you need to take charge of your life. You need to make changes!”

What would you say is keeping you on track?

The Tribe Sober on-line community is a firm anchor for me, and I also make my daily pledge and review on the “I am sober APP”. But as I achieve each AF day, it is so positively re-inforcing that I think less and less about alcohol, and certainly now know that my life is just so much more chilled without it.

All my friends and colleagues have been incredibly supportive, and nicely curious about why I am doing this.

What have you learned about yourself since you gave up drinking?

That I am one of those people who cannot moderate. That I feel so incredibly liberated not continuously thinking about alcohol and having it implanted at the centre of what I do each day. That I am kinder, fresher and happier, deep in my soul.

What would you recommend to newbies?

My focus is to aim to not drink “just for today”. Not to think of the long haul, but do it “just for today”.  Also, reach out and walk the path of changes with a community such as Tribe Sober.  And as you are ready, share your choice with family and friends – I was hesitant and scared of being mocked or rebuffed. Everyone’s reactions have been so supportive. And interestingly, if you have a glass in your hand at a function, no-one bats an eye-lid about what’s in it, or is even aware – unless you tell them – that its AF. It’s really all about you.

 

Big thank you to Laura from Tribe Sober for sharing her story – if her story resonates with you and you would like to change your relationship with alcohol then please join Laura by becoming a Subscription Member – more info and sign up HERE.

 

Dancing – A High That Lasts More Than 20 Minutes!

During a recent workshop I mentioned the fact that the “buzz” that us drinkers love(d) so much only lasts 20 minutes – and then it’s downhill from there as the depressant qualities of the booze kick in.  That fact obviously resonated with one of our tribe who wrote this interesting blog about Conscious Dance – thank you Sheila!  

“Janet mentioned conscious dance as a ‘feel good’ therapy in the Tribe Sober workshop on Saturday . My curiosity piqued, I Googled it and found a class on Monday evening in Erin hall – that promised “a lot of fun and a way of rediscovering the joy in life. No specific dance skills or experience is required and there are no steps to learn. It’s a great way to meet and interact with like-minded people. Anyone 18 years and older welcome. This is a safe space. “

The article also said that singles were welcome.

I was nervous to go into a group alone but I took my courage in my hands and did – and boy was it worth it ! The class is lead by Annelize who is welcoming.

Dancing with Strangers

There were 10 participants on the night we met. We started off in a circle with introductions to each other and with an intention for the evening. Ours was to be “proud of ourselves” and then Annelize lead us through a series of dances (to some great Latino music).

We started off with free dance to loosen up – the only restriction was to go forwards only.  After that we did a series of dances with instruction that ranged from dancing in 2’s for a short while, then changing partners; dancing around a “fire” and taking in the heat and strength and a chance to “burn”  some emotional rubbish; walking with purpose and strength; poses of strength and as well as some quiet dances. We ended with swaying to music, feeling and imagining a flow of water all around us.

It felt as if we were back in the school play ground. Everyone was smiling and doing their own thing – there was no right or wrong and no correction.

We are always told to “dance as if no one is looking“ and in this environment we were able to do exactly that. It was non-judgemental,  heaps of fun, great gentle exercise and there was absolutely no socialising pressure. It was all about moving and getting in touch with your own body.

Biodanza is Amazing!

I’ve tried Nia and felt completely out of my depth, and Zumba (not for me ). In both of these I felt I had to coordinate and compete – not so here!

 

The classes are called BIODANZA – it s a form of therapy developed by a psychologist in Chile in the 1960s. It is a method to develop our human capacities, communication skills, and relationships; including the feeling of happiness. [4]

Biodanza has been featured on CNN Chile, on BBC TV and national newspapers in the UK, and in lifestyle magazines in the UK and South Africa. The UK Daily Telegraph describes Biodanza as “a series of exercises and moves that aim to promote self-esteem, the joy of life and the expression of emotions.”

The conclusion: this lived up to its promise and I will definitely go again. A great start to the week and an AF safe place to explore.

The links and some pics are below:

https://www.facebook.com/MoveIt.Biodanza/

https://www.meetup.com/Cape-Town-Conscious-Dance-and-Movement-Meetup/

Love Sheila.

Dance Yourself Free! Conscious Dance by Brian Bergman of awakehumanbeing.com

Nobody in this world is able to dance as you dance or experience life the way that you do.

Introduction

Life on planet earth is pretty nuts right now. It would be weird not to feel at least a niggle of anxiety. A few shades of depression. A little out of control. Stressed out a fair amount of the time. Feeling any of this is not an error. It is a sign that you are listening.

Could the state of the world, our lives, our relationships actually be ideal conditions to help us wake up to a rich, vibrant, loving, creative, and meaningful life? Is it not worth trying to discover healthy and uplifting strategies of moving in all this chaos? Methods that help us to connect with life. Paths where we can discover our strength and creativity. Ways that help us at the very least to not be crippled by the apparent state of things.

This article presents what I know through direct experience as a great way: Conscious Dance.

What is Conscious Dance?

dance awake / conscious dance / mindful movement / moving meditation /embodied

Many of you will be familiar with dancing. We dance at parties and other celebrations. We dance in nightclubs and socials. We have danced at all times in human history, and for many reasons. Perhaps you love to dance and wish you had more opportunity to do. I know someone who tries to get invited to weddings just so she can dance! I’d go so far as to say that dance, along with art, music and storytelling, is one of the highest expressions of a human being.

Whether we love it or hate it, we all have a relationship with dance. Hopefully we have had the experience of getting lost in the pure joy of our moving body. It should actually be daily experience for our own sanity. Yet most of us have a very surface relationship with the body. It is our servant, we only notice it when it cannot do something we ask of it. Conscious dance is a way of cultivating a deeper relationship with our body and tapping into its wellspring of inherent wisdom.

So What Makes it Conscious Dance?

When we use the word ‘conscious’ we are referring to a state of awake, alert, relaxed presence. And the word ‘dance’ refers to any embodied mindful movement. So Conscious Dance is any embodied movement occurring in a space of alert and awake presence. (The opposite is unconscious dance – moving in an intoxicated or inebriated state where one is not present in one’s mind nor embodied in one’s movement.)

What Does a Conscious Dance Class Look Like?

The basic structure of a conscious dance, is to arrive and warm up. Warming up means to become present to the space, your body, the way you are feeling, and to help you feel welcome and comfortable in the space. We stretch and feel into our bodies, connect to our breath, start to notice our feelings, listening and seeing what is alive and moving inside us.

After warming up, we are reminded of the guidelines: 1) Stay Present, 2) Keep Moving, 3) Respect Others, 4) Non-Verbal space, and 5) Eyes closed or open. Then we begin the dance journey. The journey is a wave of music chosen from all musical genre’s. It’s designed to help us explore different ways of moving. To hear everything from classical, techno, deep house, pop, jazz, funk, hip hop, tribal to down tempo within a wave is not uncommon. We learn to move to all kinds of music. Dance with many kinds of experience.

The facilitator will occasionally remind us of the guidelines and offer some pointers. There are no steps, practices or choreographed moves. No experience needed. Everybody is free to move how they feel to move. Sometimes you dance the dance. Sometimes the dance dances you. We invite a playful, non-judgmental curiosity to our movement. We give our beings kind attention. Loving awareness.

Some people dance in a spot in the corner.

Others move around the whole room.

Some dance on their own.

Others dance together.

Some people make slow small movements.

Others dance fast big and expressive ones.

For some it’s a good sweat. Wiggling hips and playful spines.

Bodies speaking in the universal language of movement.

A full spectrum of emotion expressed and moved on the dance floor.

We watch our breath. Repeatedly come back to feeling our body.

We allow our thinking to drop into the body as a movement.

Maybe today it’s a dance of grief. Maybe a dance of celebration.

Moving with our stories and dreams.

We pray.

We find creative expression.

Solve problems.

Get unstuck.

Discover things about ourselves.

It is all welcome in the conscious dance space.

At the end of the class, we take a few moments to be with the experience we have had, then we end the class. Good luck out there!

Why do we Dance?

As we develop a regular practice we become more aware. Cultivating awareness has many benefits. The experience of our physical body and sensations, our sense of energy and vitality, our awareness of mind and thoughts and our heart and emotions, all become deeper and more expansive.

We also begin to experience our psychic dimension, opening up new conversation and connection to our archetypical, mythological and intuitive aspect. Conscious dance therefore leads to a myriad of new experience that was always inside us although possibly unfamiliar to us.

The practice leads to increased vitality, longevity, and relaxation. Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. It has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including:

• improved condition of your heart and lungs • increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness • increased aerobic fitness • improved muscle tone and strength • weight management • stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis • better coordination, agility and flexibility • improved balance and spatial awareness • increased physical confidence • improved mental functioning • improved general and psychological wellbeing • greater self-confidence and self-esteem • better social skills.

Besides the above list, conscious dance is particularly good for people going through difficult or challenging times. It is a great way to process loss, grief, depression, divorce, addiction, and anxiety. It is also a great place to solve problems, explore belief and ideas, and express creativity. Ultimately conscious dance is a very powerful way to explore the hidden potential of being Human.

Substance free?

I’ve been running conscious dance classes in the Claremont Civic hall for 5 years. The library behind the hall is the venue for AA meetings that happen at the same time. We often have people arrive at the dance looking for the AA meeting. Some decide that dance looks like more fun. Over the years our dance class has been a home to dancers in recovery from every persuasion. One and all benefiting from the incredible practice.

What leads me to write this article is that I feel that this is what many people are looking for – although they don’t know it. The practice helps people examine and move with the patterns, behaviours, moods and feelings that usually lead to us wanting to “numb” out with a drink. It provides us with a viable sustainable healthy alternative.

One of the beauties of conscious dance is that it is a safe space. People who can no longer go to parties, raves or nightclubs due to the triggers can still come have a great dance. Connect with a community. Once you have practiced it a bit, you will find yourself dancing everywhere and feel more alive for it.

People realise very quickly that the enjoyment they had from a night out was not from the drinking, it was from the dancing! Drinks perhaps initially enabled one to feel free enough to dance. Yet at the end of the day it was the dance doing it.

Beginnings

Conscious dance is a beautiful practice. You are not meant to just know how to do it, especially if you have never done it before. And anybody can do it. Not feeling totally comfortable dancing, or being self conscious about dancing is pretty standard. Definitely no reason not to try it! How do you learn to move if not by moving? You need to practice it. With practice you will overcome all these obstacles. In fact, these obstacles are actually your first teachers!

Come dance! You will be most welcome.

Join the growing community of conscious dancers out in the world. Classes are springing up all over. Look for Dance Awake, Dancing Freedom, Expressive Movement, 5 Rhythms, Movement Medicine, or Ecstatic dance to name a few. Each style and facilitator will have their own flavour, so you may need to try a few classes to find the one for you. If you are not ready to brave the dance floor then go to www.awakehumanbeing.com for online dances that you can do in the comfort of your living room.

Tribe Sober Subscription Members can claim a complimentary dance class by emailing janet@nulltribesober.com for more details.

 

Introducing Courage

Since moving to South Africa in 2003 I have met some truly inspirational people.  When I worked as a tutor I came across Courage Chiringa who is now working with Tribe Sober as our Campaign Manager.

Courage leads the Sober Spring Challenge as well as our annual Fundraiser.

Courage funded his own studies via a crowdfunding campaign so has plenty of experience in raising money for a good cause!

He’s helped us to raise more than R250,000 for Earthchild which has enabled 1,000 disadvantaged children to practice yoga and learn about health and nutrition.

 

As a way of introducing Courage to our community I asked him to tell his story:

“Courage is the name my mother gave me; I believe she knew I would need to be brave for the struggles ahead. Born and raised in a township in Zimbabwe I am a proud product of a single mother who raised me on a minimum wage.

My life has been a constant struggle as I come from humble beginnings. Coming from a financially constrained family led me to attend five different schools for primary education as I moved from one relative to the other. Though I had an unusual childhood moving between schools, I do not feel disadvantaged. Instead, I am grateful to the communities I landed in because they taught me the love of humanity and gave me a sense of purpose.

Growing up in the way I did motivated and fascinated me, looking at people’s capacity to strive even in difficult times. I realized that people rise by uplifting others and that all the actions we take have a direct impact on others.

Despite failing my first attempt at high school in Zimbabwe, I kept on working hard to ensure that I passed. I repeated high school studies in South Africa in 2013, eager to pursue my dream to be educated and passed with an average of 70%.

The absence of funds to finance my tertiary education once again became a hurdle. I spent the year 2014 working as a waiter in order to save money to fund my tertiary education. In the same year, my search for university scholarships eventually paid off, as I was granted a scholarship at the Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA) to study a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

As an individual, I believe it is my responsibility to be a global citizen, active in changing the world to be a better place. During my studies at TSiBA, I was involved in the mentoring of the first-year students and took part in the Enactus society, where I was a project leader of a water project that helped to save water and provide awareness. In 2017 I became a member in the Student Representative Council (SRC) where I held the Clubs and Society portfolio.

Making a difference to the underprivileged is my goal as there are so many people coming from humble beginnings like mine, needing inspiration. To fulfil this dream, I recently finished a Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town, which I believe will help to enhance my skills enabling me to solve problems in society through creating businesses.

I was privileged to be helped by people from all over the world who supported my crowd funding campaign through Backabuddy. I would not have been here is if it wasn’t for the generosity of many good people in this world who pay forward. My experience has taught me that your circumstance do not define you or your fate but your actions make all the difference.  A good attitude, determination, hard-work and looking on the brighter side of life helps even when it seems impossible. As individuals we should not stop pushing because for every no you get along the way, the closer you get to a yes!!”

 

Member Share – Jo

Introducing Tribe Sober Member Jo who has bravely volunteered to do a member share – thank you Jo!  14 questions for you!

First of all tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live? Married? Single? Age bracket? Kids? Worklife?

I live in Johannesburg and am a single mom to one son. I love to ride horses and I also work with them as a Certified Equine Specialist.

When did you start thinking you had unhealthy relationship with alcohol?

I always felt I was an all or nothing person. I found I could easily give up alcohol for a month or two, but always knew that I would go back to it. I knew that I was using wine to escape from the realities of my life that I wasn’t really facing.

What were your objectives when you subscribed to Tribe Sober?

I had already given up wine when I joined Tribe Sober. I gave up in Sept 2017 and went to the workshop in March 2018. I decided to become a subscription member to stay on track and to maintain connections with other non-drinkers.

What have been the main benefits of Tribe Sober membership for you?

To me Tribe Sober is a safe environment to embark on a journey that is so individual. It is supportive and allows each person to proceed at their own pace with the added support of others walking the same path. Everyone is so honest because there is no judgement. No matter where you are in your journey or what you are facing, there is someone who has been there before you, fallen off the bus before you. I also love being able to perhaps help others who are struggling.

How long have you been Alcohol Free – and how do you feel?

On 17th Sept I was AF for 3 years, and during that time I have faced many challenges that could have sent me back to drinking wine. Sobriety has made me realize how incredibly toxic alcohol is for the body. My gut improved, my anxiety decreased, my sleep improved and my blood pressure returned to normal. Mentally though, I was shocked at how much time I spent planning my wine drinking. The shame and embarrassment about the bottles, the purchasing of wine, the slurring. Worrying about what I did while drinking – these were all unexpected benefits of no longer drinking.

What made you decide to give up alcohol? If you had a “rock bottom” please describe.

My rock bottom would be the phone call from my best friend overseas to ask me if I knew that my son had contacted her about me. I knew immediately it was because of my drinking. Admittedly I used to fall asleep on the couch most nights – but my son was worried. My best friend was crying and I realized that (as I knew deep down) my drinking was out of control. The hard part was thinking I needed to give up for ever. I got rid of all the wine in the house and stopped that day. I apologized to my son and haven’t drunk since. I can now have wine in the house with no problem.

What was your first month of sobriety like?

My first month was finding my feet regarding what I would do with all my extra time, what I would drink instead and how I would tell all of my friends and family. Not many people felt I needed to do this as I did a lot of drinking alone (loneliness). I started telling people it was for health reasons. When I finally started telling people I drank too much, it was such a relief, as I finally realized I was being authentic. I started to own my life and it was an incredible feeling of freedom.

Did you have to go back to “day 1” often or did you stay firm once you had made your decision?

I was very lucky to stay the path first time around. I had the support of my close friends, my son and my GP. My GP asked if I needed to go to Rehab. I got quite a fright and was very aware of withdrawal signs. Luckily I got none. The hidden advantages soon outweighed not having wine. I also realized that whatever problem made me want to drink, would always be there after the glasses of wine. Alcohol never gets rid of a problem, it just dulls the anxiety for a while.

What are the best things that have happened to you since you stopped drinking – and the benefits of being alcohol-free?

So many. Being clear headed and not worrying about where my next glass is coming from. Knowing that the real me is being presented to the world and being proud of that person. Also owning my thoughts and feelings. I have always hated being out of control, but it didn’t stop the drinking. Now I have no excuse. I also examine my feelings with a clear head. I love that people have responded to my decision at times and sought help with giving up themselves. I never advise people to give up, just lead by example, I hope. By being open about my struggle and victory, I find it can open a door for them. On 1 or 2 occasions I have felt judged for giving up but I suppose I quickly realize that is more about them than me. I have also tried to make it clear that “inviting me over for a drink” is not going to send me straight to the wine bottle.

What do you say when offered an alcoholic drink?

I just say I don’t drink and alternate between “it doesn’t agree with me” to a more in depth discussion if they go there. Often if a discussion does ensue, it’s because the person themselves wants to cut down or wants a loved one to cut down.

If you could go back to a time when you were drinking what would you tell yourself?

You don’t need a glass of wine to make a view beautiful or the sea blue. The sea is blue and the view will be beautiful. Also I would list the hidden benefits of my AF life. I firmly believe it’s an individual journey alongside others.

What would say is keeping you on track?

Those hidden benefits of health, no guilty conscience and not letting my son down. I enjoy chatting to other Tribe Sober members on the WhatsApp group.  Also alcohol never took any problems away, it just delays your dealing with it. There are other ways of dealing with that empty feeling.

What have you learned about yourself since you gave up drinking?

I am so much stronger for it. I am authentically me now and that pounding heart that I used to experience in the morning is not self-inflicted. I can enjoy myself without having wine, and waking up and wondering what I did the night before is no longer an issue.

What would you recommend to newbies?

-I do not like the word alcoholic. Just because you give up alcohol does not mean you have a label. I firmly believe that the use of that word actually stops people looking at their consumption of alcohol.

-Remember that this is your journey and no one else’s.

-If you need to, find something that takes the place of your “glass of wine “at night. I drink Toni Glass tonic with fruit and ice in a red wine glass. It works for me. When I am out, I do the same with normal sugar-free tonic. It’s becoming easier and easier to do.

-Treat yourself to something special with money you save.

-Use the Tribe Sober groups. You will always find support on there because everyone is at a different point in their journey and who knows, your share may help someone who is too shy to.

-If you have been using the alcohol to fill a gap in your life, try and figure out what it was. Identify your triggers. Mine were anxiety (alcohol made that worse) and loneliness. Now that I am not sleeping on the couch (as a result of the wine) I am using the time to recharge even if it is watching TV.

Know that if you are reading this, you have made that first step………..

If you would like to know more about Tribe Sober Membership please click HERE.

Me and My Best Friend – by Alicia Quinn

Usually we post submissions like this on our sister website “Goodbye to Alcohol” letters which you can find here.  However we were so blown away by the quality of Alicia’s writing that we wanted to publish it first as a Guest Blog – enjoy!

I met her when I was about 15 years old. She was lush. She was called Holly. We made friends almost instantly. I was with my school friends hanging out at the local park one Friday night in my hometown of Bristol. She just appeared and started chilling with us. I remember it being a really funny night. She thought we were a cool bunch too and we all agreed to hang out again. After that, I’d see her about once a week, usually at the weekend.

My Bestie Called Holly

I had a Saturday job at the shop up the road. I was paid a pittance, so after a laborious day mostly twiddling my thumbs, I’d spend every hard-earned penny on going out that night. I’d always meet up with Holly at my mum’s house, before going into town. She’d turn up looking so glamorous. Most of us were jealous of her. She just seemed to always pull it off. Her long thick black hair looked gorgeous and she was always bang up to date with fashion. On trend, at the time, being short dresses, tights and high heeled boots. (It was the mid-nineties by the way.) My sister, Tracey loved Holly too, not as much as I did though. The three of us used to laugh and dance around the bedroom whilst getting ready for our night out. Hols always brought the fun side out in us. I remember one time we recorded a radio show on cassette tape. It was the station of the nation at the time. We listened to Bros, ‘Cat among the Pigeons’ and Kylie and stuff.

We remained the best of friends for years. After I’d graduated from film school, I decided to move to London because that’s where all the work was. Holly decided to move to London too. I didn’t think this was a problem. On the contrary, I was so excited and thought nothing of it. I was starting my career in the ‘big smoke’ and my best friend was coming too. How perfect! We had some really good times in London. I’d see her every weekend and some nights in the week after work. We even went on holiday together, which I absolutely loved. My boyfriend at the time thought I had an ‘unhealthy relationship’ with her. What a load of old crap! She was my best mate. Best mates spend a lot of time together. Through thick and thin, right?

We partied hard sometimes and she made me do the craziest things. She always managed to make me feel more confident, just because she was, I suppose. But you just get used to it, that was Holly, just who she was. She always made it seem OK to go a bit mental sometimes. She’d often disappear without saying a word the next day leaving me feeling miserable about what I’d done the night before. Although, I never stayed mad at her for long.

Diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder

After a few years living the high life in the capital, earning good money in the TV industry and hanging out with pretentious people, I suddenly seemed to be suffering from a kind of breakdown with no idea why. I had developed bipolar disorder, although I didn’t know this at the time, and was diagnosed a couple of years later. Holly was there with me every step of the way, through some pretty dark times. I split up with my boyfriend after almost 10 years and had to move back home. I never took her for granted and felt I owed her a lot.

I later learnt that bipolar (formerly called manic depression) is a chemical imbalance in the brain known as a mood disorder. It’s called this because of the opposite ends of the poles; up and down. I would have episodes of being hypomanic where I’d wake up early, talk too much, rush around, spend loads of money and generally take risks with anything and everything. For example, I’d upped and left everything I’d worked so hard for, including a perfectly happy relationship, a job with amazing prospects and many new friends. Not to mention the pricey one bedroom flat that I’d bought. This was me being hypomanic. You don’t get a taxi from London to Bristol costing £300 when you’re ‘stable’. (One of my home town mates was having a baby and the trains were on strike.) My £3,500 mobile phone bill was eventually framed in gold in my hallway.

Other times I’d feel depressed, where I’d sleep loads, wouldn’t go out, found it difficult to speak to people and thought I’d be better off dead. One time my poor mum had to take me to A&E after I’d taken an overdose. I had to go on a drip to make it better. Holly steered clear when I was in hospital but she was the first person I saw when I was discharged. I was offered a couple of really good jobs in television but had to turn them down because I just wasn’t well enough. I’d also met this guy, Kyle, who I started developing feelings for. I turned him down so many times. He kept phoning up, asking me if I wanted to go out with him and I kept saying, “No I can’t. Sorry.”

When I was ‘hyper’, Hols loved it. It went with her personality and she revelled in it when I was ‘up’. You’d think she would’ve scarpered when I became low a few months later, but no, she was there, especially when I was suicidal. Bless her, such a true friend!

My Bestie Was Changing

I’d been living back at home for a few months and my illness was progressing. Holly started acting a bit weirdly, and was turning up at my house in the morning when I was supposed to be asleep or out doing things. Because she was my best friend and had helped me so much I just took it. I didn’t realise it was becoming a problem at the time. It felt like she was beginning to stalk me and wouldn’t leave me alone. I didn’t make a big deal of it because all my friends and family still thought she was the ‘bee’s knees’, so even though she could be a bit of a nightmare I always forgave her.

During the next couple of years I experienced some close family bereavements. My dad was assaulted which led to his untimely death. 10 months later my father-in-law (to be) committed suicide and a year after that my step mother died from a heart infection. My family were of course most supportive, and all my friends, and yet again, Holly was there to put a smile on my face. Through the worst times, she was there. She stuck by me through what turned out to be quite a bad few years. She showed what a good friend she was. I’d been through so much I needed her more than ever.

It was different to the old days though, when we were teenagers and in our twenties. Then we used to party and laugh so much. It was a lot more carefree and I guess I didn’t see her as often. Also we went through a stage where we just enjoyed each other’s company. But now it was different. I relied on her so much and our friendship seemed to be a lot more serious. Not as jolly as it was when we were younger.

I was coming to terms with my illness, receiving regular counselling and taking various medications to help me through the episodes. I went to bereavement counselling also and although the pain will always be there it does get easier with time. I even had a couple of jobs which I enjoyed and Kyle had finally convinced me to give it a go. That was one of my better decisions!

I am Getting Better – Or Am I?

I was finally becoming happy again (properly happy, not bipolar happy!) I was in my mid-thirties by now. I’d met my true love, got married and had a baby. These were the things I’d always dreamed of. I think, because my dreams were finally coming true, Holly was beginning to show her jealous side. She started coming round to my house even more often. I was happy again so why couldn’t she just leave me alone? I began to feel suffocated by her and wondered why someone I cherished so much was making me feel sad.

She was up to her usual tricks. She always had the most amazing way of persuading me that it was still cool to hang out so much. She made me laugh and party again. But then sometimes she was so over the top it would be embarrassing and I’d regret some days that I’d hung out with her. I found myself becoming more rebellious, and sometimes even secretive and dishonest and that wasn’t me. I had started to blame Holly. It was getting harder to forgive her. We weren’t kids anymore, and now I had responsibilities.

She slowly started becoming ‘stalker-like’ again and I thought I couldn’t let this happen. I’d already forgiven her a number of times. If I kept letting her do this she’d never stop. She was becoming toxic. It was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done but I had to end our friendship.

She kept saying to me, “But I’ve known you for years. We go back you and me. Remember all the good times? It’ll be weird without me in your life.”

She had a point. What was I going to do without her? She was my best friend, my confidante. We’d been through so much together over a very long period of my life. But I had to weigh things up in my head. It was hard but I knew she wasn’t good for me. I had to think about my husband, my baby and most of all myself.

I finally decided to break friends with Holly. My other friends and family were all really pleased as they had begun to see what a bad influence she had become. (I know they all still liked her though. Everyone likes Holly.) She did leave in the end, threatening to come back at any time. I told her not to.

Yes. I had finally given up my best friend: alcohol.

 THE END

Copyright Alicia Quinn

July 2019

 

 

 

 

 

Alcohol and Our Subconscious

 

If you’ve been trying (and failing) for years to give up or to moderate alcohol, then you need to check out this guest blog sent to us by Hynotherapist, Belinda Roxburgh.

Consider for a Moment Your Personal Beliefs About Alcohol…

Many of us have grown up in a world where alcohol is part of almost every conceivable occasion. Every time we see people clinking glasses together, it is a subconscious suggestion of a feel-good feeling which gets reinforced continuously.

This means it is hardly surprising that before even tasting this addictive substance, many of us already have the subconscious belief that to connect with others and enjoy any social occasion or celebration we need alcohol – and the more the better.

All the awful things it causes are simply joked about which contributes to normalising the behaviour– the hangovers, the vomiting, the loss of inhibitions that protect us, the irresponsible driving, the drunken sex, the black outs, the blurred memories … the list is endless. How have we been duped into believing that consuming alcohol is harmless and key to a good time?

Looking at the hard facts about alcohol is the first step to changing our beliefs, which simply makes changing our drinking behaviour so much easier. Once the subconscious mind embraces the truth, we may already find ourselves exploring alcohol-free options, or drinking less without depending on willpower nor experiencing a feeling of deprivation.

An example of this from a Tribe Sober workshop – the mom who believes she needs wine to cope with the stresses of having children (limiting belief) could discover when sober that she has way more patience and actually experiences enormous pleasure from interacting with her children in a mindful way (empowering belief). When she focuses on some of the benefits of being a sober mom: clearer memories of fun times, being present and a person her children can be proud of – it means she creates new neural pathways and automatically has less desire to drink.

When you become aware of the subtle suggestions that pop up throughout your day, encouraging you to drink to relax, copy, socialise, have fun – perhaps ask yourself whether the opposite may actually be closer to the truth?

And Then Consider What You Believe About Yourself?

This can be a clue to your motivation to drink and how it has become such a big part of your life.  Do you believe you need to drink for confidence?  Drink to fit in?  Or to socialise so that you are not boring?  Use wine to cope with sadness, loneliness, grief, stress?  Or perhaps it is purely a habit that has crept into your daily rituals.

The thing about alcohol is that the first drink gives that initial, fleeting, feel-good feeling which our subconscious mind mistakenly interprets as the solution to everything. Day after day, we crave more of that feel good boost, but the more we drink the worse the day after, and that’s how our relationship with alcohol is forged.  Sadly, over time, it actually resets our ability to experience real pleasure from everyday pleasures. Often the worse we feel about ourselves, the more we desire alcohol – which unfortunately fuels sadness and anxiety.

The basis for how we feel about ourselves comes from long ago and is often buried deep within our subconscious minds. We hear and experience things when we are young, or at vulnerable times, and we often misinterpret these things. This creates a reality that is not necessarily true or useful. This reality is then reinforced throughout our lives because we interpret everything using these same faulty beliefs, leading to more negative self-talk and even self-sabotage.

When we can listen to the stories, we tell ourselves, with a healthy dose of skepticism, that we have an opportunity to take back our power and realise that our past is not our future.

Hypnotherapy (non-medical) – a Great Way to Re-evaluate Beliefs for Personal Growth

For many of us, shining a spotlight on our beliefs and behaviour causes stress because it highlights the fact that different parts of our selves are not in agreement. Consciously we may know that alcohol is not good for us and we really want to stop, but subconsciously we believe we deserve this treat or need it to unwind or socialise and it’s fine because everyone is doing it. And because the subconscious mind is the very powerful seat of emotions, imagination and habits, it often wins the argument, which then reinforces feelings of failure and fuels the conflict which makes us feel sad and bad all over again.

The discomfort experienced by any internal conflict is where hypnotherapy can be a very helpful tool. The therapist is merely a facilitator helping you to achieve a very relaxed state of mind where you can more easily access your strengths and resources, as well as re-assess and re-frame your personal beliefs. The process enables you to gain insight and resolution by getting your conscious and subconscious minds into alignment. This can be an empowering and liberating experience as you open yourself up to different ways of thinking and being. Our brains are truly phenomenal in their ability to create our reality, and when we understand how to work with them, rather than against, this journey is simply easier and more enjoyable.

For more info on how hypnotherapy works please feel free to contact me belindaroxburgh@nullgmail.com and also look at my blog Alcohol and Hypnotherapy

You can find more information on our Membership and Workshops below:

 

Sobriety – the Stages of Grief?

If your journey to alcohol-free living seems anything but straightforward then check out this guest blog sent to us by Hynotherapist Belinda Roxburgh

Alcohol has been your best friend forever?! She helped you through those tricky teenage years and has supported you ever since. You look forward to spending time with her, she understands you and she is always there for you at the end of the day, in good times and bad. She is there when you socialise and the best Netflix companion when you’re alone. She helps you celebrate the highlights of life and numbs the pain when it’s all too much. She helps you cope with those family get togethers, boring work functions and scary first dates. Or maybe she’s been your life saver through the stresses and strains of marriage and motherhood.

What a big role she has played throughout your life which means it comes as quite a shock to discover this friend is false, dangerous and toxic. The stats are piling up and the truth is hard not to see. But even so, choosing to let her go is not completely obvious, nor easy, and the reality is that most of you will experience some or all of the Stages of Grief (Kubler -Ross). These stages can occur in any order and often overlap backwards, forwards and sideways.

Denial: this can go on for years as you slowly become aware of the negative effects of this relationship. You may try to moderate, put rules in place, stop on and off, compare your drinking with others that drink more to make yourself feel better and justify carrying on with it for any number of reasons. You are so determined not to be an alcoholic because you enjoy it too much to have to stop.

Anger: At yourself for not being able to moderate, for overdoing it and feeling hung over. Angry at everyone else who doesn’t need to stop, angry at friends who say you don’t have a problem and have no reason to stop. Angry because you get the feeling they only want you to carry on because it makes them feel better about their own drinking. Angry when there are no alcohol-free alternatives in restaurants and work functions. Angry that you started drinking in the first place. Angry at being so gullible to have bought into the brain washing that drinking alcohol means a good time. Also angry at all the time wasted in your lifetime numbing your brain, being miserable, not being true to yourself… blurred memories and missed opportunities, knowing that you haven’t been the best you could have been because you chose to drink. It’s possible in this stage to also feel judgemental towards others and especially critical of those who are close to us and appear to be oblivious of the dangers and ill effects that are now so clear in your own mind. And ironically, this can be because they remind you of you.

Bargaining: After a period of abstinence the voices become more persistent. You are doing well now, proved that you are not in fact an alcoholic because you have managed to stop for a period of time. This means you can moderate, right? Starting with a drink or two when out with friends, then weekends, then more often. You have been so good you deserve just this one? Oh what’s the point, life is no fun without it, everyone else is drinking..? Knowing that this stage is to be expected means you can experience it with awareness and listen to that voice with a healthy dose of skepticism. You know deep down that going back to an abusive lover always has the same outcome.

Depression: After being alcohol-free for a period of time it seems it is quite common to experience a very flat period, almost an anti-climax after the excitement of discovering all the many benefits of being sober. This can be a danger time as it takes one back to the bargaining stage and the f***it why not? Be prepared in whatever way is going to help you through this. (Refer to your toolkit – connecting with friends, nature, counselling, anything creative, exercise, charity work, yoga, meditation and hypnotherapy!) Know that it takes 14 months for the dopamine system to normalise. Any psychologist will tell you that after divorce it takes 2-3years to feel completely yourself again so patience is essential. While your mind readjusts emotionally and psychologically there are a myriad of changes taking place on a cellular level, healing, regenerating and balancing of chemicals and neurotransmitters. This is why it takes time to lose weight and also for sugar cravings to subside. Cultivate the voice of an encouraging parent as you give yourself recognition for every small step in the direction that feels good for you!

Acceptance: Acceptance doesn’t mean instant happiness but rather that your powerful subconscious is finally in alignment with your conscious mind. It is a sense of relief and also the start of the new chapter, a new reality. Everyone’s journey is different which means your path to this stage will be taken in your own sweet time and your own direction. The numerous alcohol-free benefits start to become a reality which means you naturally choose to leave the toxic relationship behind. The new neural pathways are becoming stronger and stronger and everything becomes so much clearer and easier. Life starts to become more fulfilled and purposeful. There is much self- discovery and insight into what is important to you. And much excitement when contemplating all there is still to do with this gift of time and better health.

How can hypnotherapy enhance and ease this process? Feel free to contact me at belindaroxburgh@nullgmail.com for more information.

Sober Diary Reflections – Eusebius McKaiser

Eusebius McKaiser is South Africa’s favourite chat show host.

He facilitates an essential national dialogue on Radio 702 every morning from 9 to 12.

I have been on his show several times and he came to one of our workshops as a guest. He has been a wonderful support to Tribe Sober and has now sent me this fabulous guest blog – enjoy!

I last had alcohol on the 31st December 2018. Giving up alcohol is a process rather than an event.

I have noted a few of my reflections as I feel they may be useful for people trying to cut down or quit as well as their friends who are still drinking:

  1. Alcohol is the only drug you have to justify not taking

That is how much the consumption of alcohol has been normalised in society. No one asks you why you aren’t taking cocaine or looks weirded out if you say you have stopped taking cocaine …. or cigarettes … or fast food … or pretty much any substance or activity that may be harmful. Yet we sometimes shame someone who has stopped consuming alcohol into JUSTIFYING sobriety. Pure madness.

TIP FOR DRINKERS:

Do NOT ask someone who orders a non-alcoholic beverage why they aren’t ordering an alcoholic drink. Just don’t. It is a choice that doesn’t need to be explained. Any more than you need justify why you do not want to consume any product or substance you do not feel like having. It might FEEL like a mere conversational moment or sincere curiosity but I promise you it will cost you NOTHING to not ask. It will also HELP someone trying to form new habits to not feel your (unintended even) pressure to drink. Put differently – what will it cost YOU to not probe? Mind your own choices.

TIP FOR SOMEONE TRYING TO CUT DOWN OR QUIT:

You owe no one an explanation. When you first start out, you will workshop, perhaps even with a community of sober folks all trying to survive the social pressures of quitting, all sorts of “social strategies” for how to “survive a barbecue/the pub/outing to a sporting event”.

Sure, this is fun initially- rehearsing cheesy jokes about your decision, pretending to be nonchalant, etc, but quite frankly all of this eventually becomes tiring because you have to prepare mentally to help other people feel comfortable with a choice you are making about YOUR BODY.

While easier said than done, simply be firm and assertive. When I am feeling chatty, I might say one or two things about not drinking alcohol. But most of the time I do not respond to someone’s thirst (pardon pun) for some epic story of why you quit or why you cut down.

I must confess it is sometimes fun seeing someone dealing with their lack of satisfaction at your lack of explanation. Because they need to wrestle with why it bothers them. Not my drunk monkey. I am too old to be justifying a perfectly acceptable choice.

  1. There is a limit to how much liquid you can consume.

Initially, you will buy and drink substitutes. I still do. Like zero percent alcohol-beer. The first time you order these or buy them to take with to a dinner, you feel so guilty that it is not “real alcohol” that you will VOLUNTEER your “sin”, because you too will, at the beginning, feel self-imposed pressure to explain yourself. But after a while you stop announcing that your bottles, that LOOK like beer bottles, do not contain poison. And that is socially easier- talking of “social strategies”. Because if no one notices then you won’t be badgered by anyone to explain yourself.

But here’s the fascinating thing. After a few outings, you will no longer be able to consume the same amount of non-alcoholic drinks as your mates are consuming alcohol.

Because if you are not getting drunk, you are too sober to ignore your brain telling you that you are full!!! So the first time I quit for long periods, I would stock up on gallons of virgin G&Ts, beer etc. Last year this time you may even have seen me making recommendations of the best ones on the market.

Now, one 6 pack of alcohol-free beer in my house can last me months. Because it is simply not natural, while watching a rugby game, to consume an insane amount of LIQUID without feeling sick. When that happens, you have to confront the social habit of always having something in your hand.

Because if you accept your body cannot handle excessive amounts of liquid, then you have an empty set of hands and that feels weird but, over time, you will stop being bothered. In the interim, just nurse the same bottle of water/alcohol beverage-substitute for a long while.

TIP FOR DRINKERS:

Now that you know to not pressure a mate into downing alcohol with you, just be a sweetie and when you go to the bar, ask, “Eusebius can I get you another water, bud?”

And while you’re being a sweetie, resist the well-meant chirp you wanna add before or after asking this. It is hard for many people to quit drinking, don’t add to their struggle.

TIP FOR SOMEONE TRYING TO CUT DOWN OR QUIT:

Just because your mate is now a sweetie and not pressuring you, don’t “reward” them socially by saying yes to every water or soda offer. If you’re full, you’re full. You are mates because of who you are; not because you buy each other rounds, and if the latter is the main or sole basis of your relationship, then there is a deeper problem here anyway.

And it is okay to leave the club or pub before the rest of your friends, by the way. You do not need to feel compelled to leave together at 3am just because you arrived together, sober still. Give yourself permission to not want to be with drunk people until last rounds are called. You’re an adult. Own your agency.

  1. You cannot bypass anxiety

One upside of drinking alcohol is that your social life is not something you have to think about.

Your weekend is easily plotted and choreographed because it revolves around drinking. In addition to that, the buzz you feel when you get tipsy also allows you to drown out any information your body is conveying about not being well, physically or mentally.

That is why many of us bypass anxiety, for example, by drowning, in alcohol, the messaging we are getting from our bodies.

Sobriety is challenging. You cannot ignore your anxieties. You are too sober. You can only ignore it by finding new distractions – other addictions like excessive exercising or emotional eating or other drugs or even technology addiction, or sex addiction…

Don’t waste your sobriety by substituting alcohol. Sit with and through your anxieties and if you lack the tools to do so, seek help. Therapy is under-rated. Getting drunk isn’t therapy. It is simply avoidance.

  1. An unexpected gain – time!

The single biggest gain when you quit consuming lots of alcohol is time. It is 11pm right now and it is Friday. If I was drinking, this would be a post related to drinking. As it happens, I am reading, thinking and reflecting on other stuff.

Even more shocking, when you first manage to cut back, is that you will wake up early on weekends. For one spectacularly obvious reason – you did not pass out. When your body is well rested, it has no biological reason to remain in bed – if you’re not dead.

Anyone who quit successfully is laughing in recognition of what I am saying here. I know because it is the most unexpected gain people experience. You usually TRY to quit to lose weight, to stop being a drunk ASSHOLE, to save money. No one says, “I wanna quit because I want to gain time!” So when you DO gain time, it is the oddest little bit of joy.

WARNING: You will, initially, waste the time you gain because you are not used to it. What the hell are you supposed to do with yourself at 8am on a Saturday morning? Eventually you will plan ahead. Try new things. Go to gym. Make Saturday mornings your preferred time for going to the barber, etc. Initially it is weird to be well rested on a Saturday morning.

Call that [to borrow from an excellent book title worth seeking out and reading], The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober.

PS: If you can handle your drinking, drink on. This isn’t a post motivating an alcohol-free life. It is simply reflections on the journeys many silently go through when they wish to quit or cut down but struggle. Respect each other.

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To Book on a Workshop click HERE.

 

Health in Recovery – Getting Your Groove Back!

Running regular workshops for nearly 4 years means we have quite a community of Tribe Sober graduates these days – many of them stay in touch via our WhatsApp and Facebook groups, as well as monthly coffee dates.

Microbiologist Janis came to one of our early workshops and says:

Attending a workshop was the best thing I ever did for myself… it encouraged me to do a couple of lengthy “sober sprints” which were life-altering and completely re-set my relationship with alcohol.”

We decided to pick her clever brain about how to build up our health in recovery, and she sent us the following tips.  Thanks Janis – keep rocking!

 

Author: Janis Le Roux

I am a qualified microbiologist with a passion for food, curry, rock music and probiotics.

Early days (Part One) – Healthy ways to get your groove back!

You might have stopped drinking with good intentions to feel healthier and happier, only to be disappointed that you are continuously tired, struggling to sleep and feeling less than amazing. Don’t worry, you are not alone. There are plenty of healthy changes that can help restore your system and help you get your groove back!

Alcohol can wreak havoc on your system, disrupt your gut population and rob you of essential nutrients. It’s a central nervous system depressant, and as the name implies, can cause an imbalance in brain chemistry, often causing or worsening depression and anxiety.

Whether you have decided to try a 30-day booze-free detox, or have sworn off the vino forever, you will benefit from making some healthy adjustments to your lifestyle.

In the early days of giving up drinking, your only job should be to not drink. That in itself is hard enough! It can be overwhelming to add too many changes to your lifestyle so stick to the basics. Here are ten ways that you can start:

Water – alcohol is a powerful dehydrating agent so it is likely that you will be starting the journey needing some added hydration. Make sure to replace your water loss by drinking at least two litres of a water a day.

A good multivitamin – alcohol depletes your essential nutrients so start by taking a good multivit. A lot of nutritionists are starting to recommend the pregnancy ranges as they are a bang for your buck mix of omegas, multivitamin and minerals, three pills a day with added calcium. Don’t be put off by the fact that they are pregnancy vitamins. They are really just a branded box of high-strength multis, and it is likely that you will have low levels of folic acid anyway so a good folic source is a bonus!

Thiamine (vitamin B1) –Drinking alcohol interferes with thiamine absorption and low levels can cause fatigue and neurological disorders. Doctors usually prescribe thiamine supplements to recovering alcoholics for this reason. Relatively affordable generic thiamine supplements are available from most pharmacies.

Regular meals – Going on unsustainable, restrictive diets is often unnecessary and potentially dangerous in the early days of alcohol recovery so try to avoid them if possible. Focus instead on getting good quality, unprocessed whole foods and having regular meal times, no less than three hours apart which will signal to the body that it is no longer being starved of nutrients. Ensuring there is a small portion of protein or good fats will slow the absorption of carbs, allowing your body to maintain blood sugar levels. This should do wonders in improving your mood and energy levels and help clear brain fog.

Probiotics – Scientific studies are highlighting the connection between your gut bacteria and your brain, calling it the gut-brain axis. In fact your gut has been shown to have its own nervous system, just think of how your tummy feels when you have a big presentation at work or a hot date. Butterflies eek! Alcohol interferes with the vital health of your stomach lining and crucial gut biome. A good probiotic will help heal the intestinal system, which will in turn, help your brain produce happy and relaxing hormones like serotonin and dopamine. And one can always do with more of those!

Glutamine – Adding this amino acid supplement will help you heal your gut lining and thereby improve digestion and It is also used by body builders for muscle recovery. This little gem of a supplement will help reduce sugar cravings, and as alcohol is loaded with sugar you will find you likely need a bit of help reducing those crazy cravings for sweet things which is a common occurrence in early sobriety.

Theanine – Need a supplement to bring some calm without the drowsy sedation of most calming pills? Then theanine is your best bet. Theanine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein, safe, affordable and available from a health store or pharmacy.

Omegas –Fatty acids make up cellular membranes so are essential for the health of your entire system and even more so in recovery, as your brain will be replacing old cells and rewiring the brain circuitry. Good sources are flax seeds, eggs, avo, fatty fish and nuts. You can grind flax seeds in a coffee grinder and add a spoonful to your oats in the morning.

Exercise – Research clearly shows that exercise helps your body, whether you’re in recovery or not. You may take a while to start enjoying it, but remember that your body is healing from years of abuse so give it time and start slowly. Choose an activity that you like or are interested in, and then just show up. Who knows? You might meet new friends and discover a new passion in the process!

Mindfulness – Yoga, meditation. One cannot over empathize the benefits of practicing mindfulness and being present. Regular practice can improve your mood, sleep and help you deal with stressful situations.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. This information is not attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental or emotional issue, disease or condition.

The Big Question – Am I An Alcoholic?

Thank you to Tribe Sober member, Mallorie Lee, for this fascinating blog post.

Am I an Alcoholic?

Say “ALCOHOLIC” out loud next time you’re in a crowd, and you can be almost certain people will stiffen, avoid eye contact and probably move away from you as quickly as possible.

The word will have conjured up images of grubby homeless people sleeping in doorways or of people stumbling along blind drunk with a brown paper bag clutched in one hand.  The truth is they are the unlucky ones, the ones who didn’t get help, the ones at the end of the line.

I suspect our stereotyping of those who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol comes in part from ignorance and partly to distance ourselves from “those people.” As long as we can compare ourselves favourably with others’ levels of drinking (those “real” alcoholics out there), we can avoid facing our own demons.

So, in an attempt to get as scientific as possible I turned to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for a definition of alcoholism.

The DSM was created in 1952 by psychiatrists and psychologists as a way of standardizing, classifying and categorizing disorders of mental functioning.  Not an easy thing to do – to standardize human thinking, feeling and behaving!

The original term “Alcoholism” in the 1952 DSM, was subsequently replaced by the terms “Alcohol abuse” and “Alcohol dependence“. In the latest DSM, the new term is “Alcohol use disorder” and this is measured using a severity grade (mild, moderate and severe).

This is how the current DSM defines Alcohol use disorder:

A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by 2 or more of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

  • Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
  • There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects
  • Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol
  • Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfil major role obligations at work, school, or home
  • Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use
  • Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous
  • Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol
  • Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
    1. A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect
    2. A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol
  • Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
    1. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol
    2. Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

So there you are. A way of checking in with your ‘disorder’.  The name makes perfect sense if you think about the delighted comments from people on the Tribe Sober Whatsapp group when after a month or two they experience the return of simple order to their lives  – children are picked up on time, car dents repaired, dentist appointments made, studies resumed and help sought for care of the spirit, now that the ‘spirits’ have been put aside.

If you do identify with 2 or more of those DSM indicators then please consider joining our Tribe Sober community by attending a WORKSHOP or becoming a SUBSCRIPTION MEMBER .

Mallorie Lee x

One Day in the Life of a New Beginnings Workshop!

I was lucky enough to attend Tribe Sober’s workshop two weeks ago. It was held at Janet’s lovely home in Cape Town. What a relaxed and welcoming environment.

The morning began with a coffee as everyone started arriving. There were 8 of us in total (I think!) as well as Janet and Mandy obviously, who run the course.

What struck me straight away was how welcoming Janet and her team were. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but as I got chatting with the others, I began to feel more relaxed. After all, we were all there for one very clear common reason: Alcohol. And the negative effects it was having or had had on our lives.

The Simple Yet Vital Act of Sharing

We all sat around Janet’s couch where there was ample space for all of us to be comfortable. The first thing we did was share why we were there, our relationships, and histories, with alcohol. Each story was different but equally as eye opening. I just felt so fantastic to be sitting with this group of amazing, like-minded women who understood me and me them. To tell others your story and you just see the click in their eyes – they get what you are saying as they too have had enough of alcohol running and ruining their lives. It’s that simple.

After the shares, we received some important facts about the dangers of alcohol. We all know how bad it is for our health, but just how bad and to see it in black and white was a good lesson. I particularly enjoyed our “prac” which was to pour into a wine, whiskey and beer glass what we thought were the safe limits of alcohol consumption per unit. Very interesting. I’ll just say that I was drinking a woman’s weekly limit EVERY night. Scary stuff.

Connection with Others in the Same Boat

After a lovely lunch and more coffee, we had a guy come and chat to us who had not drunk for a year, after attending the course. It was informative and inspiring. Listening to him was great as he seemed so happy and alive, without having drunk for so long – something we all want to aspire to. Obviously, as we all do, he has stresses and strains in his life, but has just chosen to not numb them with alcohol, focusing on his health and family instead.

Janet also read us her goodbye letter to alcohol which was deeply moving and just resonated with me so much. Her words could have so easily been mine.

We then watched a video and got some really cool info in the form of a “Toolkit”- in other words, how to cope with going to parties, etc, and also how to moderate – for those who wanted to go that route.

Action Plans

Some tea followed and then each of us spoke of our action plans and what we were going to do doing going forward. Some chose to cut down or moderate and others decided it was time to say cheers to the booze forever.

At the end of the workshop, we had some alcohol-free drinks in the form of “what to drink when you don’t drink drinks” and I was amazed at the variety. Non- drinkers really do have options. I particularly enjoyed the Duchess gin and the JC Le Roux champagne. There was also a nice beer but I forget the name.

Everybody was so supportive and encouraging and there was really nowhere else I would rather have been that day. I’ve already been in contact with some people from the course and being on the WhatsApp group and private FB page is so comforting. Knowing that others are on the same journey as you are.

And by the sounds of it, it only gets easier and easier and more rewarding and it’s super awesome to be a non-drinker.

Well done Janet, you guys rock and the  number of people you help, inform and inspire is incredible. I would highly urge anyone who wants to change their relationship with alcohol to give this course a go. Nothing to lose. Just a better and healthier life to gain.

Jo B.

 

(No) World Cup Hangover 

I was delighted to receive this guest blog from my English pal, Tom.  I have known Tom as a friend for more than a decade and have consulted him professionally in his capacity as a Natural Health Coach.

He specialises in diet, nutrition and lifestyle education so if you need any advice in these areas then he is your man!
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Over to you Tom…
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(No) World Cup Hangover

The “stages of change” have been described by Prochaska & DiClemente (1983) as follows;

  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation

3. Preparation/Determination

4. Action/Willpower

5. Maintenance

6. RELAPSE! (NB: affectionately termed “fall from grace”)

I’d sat with stages one and two for several years. In terms of quantity I was by no means concerned with my intake of alcohol. Ever the “light-weight”, I’ve never been “very good” at drinking and always endured hangovers so severe (i.e. 48hr headaches) that I was rarely, if ever, able to drink more than 2-3 times weekly.

Yet, in terms of thought process, it dawned on me that I was spending an exorbitant amount of time “doing the math” in order to determine precisely when, where and what I could drink to maximise the pleasure and minimise the ensuing and inevitable pain. I even imagined myself a connoisseur of “drinking well” – a master in the art of pairing the right alcohol with right setting.

The only problem being that I’m supposed be “mastering” my current and ongoing MSc, yet was losing several hours in contemplating the science of alcohol rather than that of my chosen subject. And losing days of reading time to blinding (literally, as in “can’t see”) to the aftereffects of what can only be described as systemic poisoning.

Then the penny dropped… alcohol costs me time and makes me sick… not rocket science after all!

In what might be described as an epiphany, it was on the drive out to visit friends for the 2018 football World Cup Final that I moved effortlessly into stages three and four: that of preparation, determination, action and willpower.

The car was loaded with food and booze for the weekend, we’d booked a cottage and weren’t planning to drive for the next two days. It was to be a weekend of fun and frivolity, Monday be damned!

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I broke my own thought pattern and realised I’d been, once again, pre-calculating how and where to best organize my beverages for the next 48hrs! This, I felt, was utter madness and I, hopefully, am not mad. The straw broke the camel’s back, and I determined right there and then to quit … albeit only after the final of course!

There may be some who’d say I was cheating myself and setting up to fail by still allowing the weekend festivities; the classic “I’ll start tomorrow” but tomorrow never comes. But somehow, in some way, this time felt different and my determination was strong.

It happened that I enjoyed the weekend immensely, including the 6-goal thriller between France and Croatia, and all of my pre-arranged alcohol – and would you believe, no hint of a hangover! In honour of the French victory, my final consumption was an exquisite dessert wine; delectable, sweet and syrupy. It felt a bit like signing off my career with hat-trick and man-of-the-match performance, one to savor for the ages.

And so, off I head into stage five, that of maintenance. Time will tell if I have to work through stage six, relapse. Which Prochaska & DiClemente deem to be a risk for up to five years – perhaps I’ll revisit thing for the World Cup of 2022! Perhaps I’ll have a drink sooner, at this stage I honestly can’t say.

But as I turn 100 days old on July 23rd it has somehow been “easy” thus far.

Perhaps when you know, you know; and on that day 102 days’ past, when I determined to “start Monday” I felt very clear that I’d identified a problem and already knew the answer. Perhaps I enjoy the voyeuristic experience of observing others drinking at social occasions, and thankfully realizing I can still have a great time by just being myself. Maybe I enjoy my new found popularity as everybody’s designated driver! Perhaps I enjoy the sensation of waking up feeling fresh and rejuvenated, and ready for the day ahead sans pain killers.

I don’t necessarily feel I am an alcoholic, and resonate with the Tribe Sober message of quitting or “cutting down” alcohol. I haven’t particularly set myself a time frame and don’t yet know how things will unfold. No doubt summer will present additional challenges. But I’d call 100 days a success and can only say that the benefits are great, and the cost miniscule. It’s unchartered territory from here…

Diet|Nutrition|Lifestyle

www.naturalhealth21.com

+27 71 877 0019

Hypnotherapy and Alcohol

Belinda Roxburgh

My relationship with wine has been a long one with many ups and downs, makeups and breakups. I have
always been fit and quite health conscious so I’m sure most people wouldn’t imagine that I have had an
issue with alcohol. But I have always known deep down that it’s an issue.

In between binges, often drinking alone, I would abstain for awhile, then moderate by putting rules in place like not having alcohol in the house, not drinking during the week, not drinking alone…but soon I would find myself being uncharacteristically sociable, going out for dinners, visiting friends, anywhere there would be wine. The mind has a funny way of getting around the rules and the bottom line is that “where there is a subconscious will, we usually find a way”. Otherwise known as self-sabotage! And the Subconscious, which according to neuroscientists makes up more than 90% of the mind, is the key to all of this.

Hypnotherapy

A few years ago I started studying Hypnotherapy (non medical) and it has been the most enlightening experience. Part of the course involves personally experiencing everything that is taught which means plenty of opportunity for facing one’s own demons and subsequent healing of old wounds. After attending the Tribe Sober Workshop a while ago, I was inspired to share my experience as it compliments perfectly everything that the workshop is about.

From birth and even before that, our memories (real and imagined) are stored in our powerful subconscious minds and this is where our belief systems are formed. As children many of these beliefs are created before logical intellect is fully formed and as we grow up and process them with our critical conscious minds we can experience inner conflict when things don’t add up.

 These faulty beliefs can be around self-worth, deservability, intelligence, body image, sexuality, abilities, spirituality etc. Anything and everything that affects our behaviour and ability to lead a fulfilled existence and have healthy relationships.

Our Subconscious

 Our subconscious develops these beliefs in order to protect us and help us make sense of the world. It is also where our emotions and intuition reside and where learning and reinforcement of habits takes place. These beliefs and habits are often hidden and protected from conscious influence. This is why processing at a subconscious level is key to changing any unwanted behaviour, feelings or habits.

For example many of our subconscious minds have the belief that we need alcohol to relax or have fun and. We believe that it is a normal part of life (rather than a belief that it is an addictive, damaging drug). From a young age we observe our parents, family and friends drinking regularly. It is associated with most social interactions, special occasions, romantic dinners and even wakes and sporting events in real life and on TV. We are continuously being (subconsciously) programmed to drink alcohol in the same way we are programmed to eat ice cream and chocolate when we are happy and sad.

Using hypnosis to facilitate change is a very intentional, focussed way of exploring the subconscious and
effectively modifying or reframing faulty beliefs or beliefs that no longer serve us. During the therapy you start to build new neural pathways which makes the whole process much easier (neuroplasticity). The more attention you give to the benefits of your healthy and more desirable choices the stronger these pathways become. This means that every time you choose the alcohol-free option, you feel better which creates a positive feedback strengthening those neural pathways. It’s not magic but it is logical, simple and magical.

 

Q & A

1. Why did I attend the workshop if hypnotherapy was successful?

Curiosity mainly and… also because even though I felt that alcohol had lost its power over me and I no longer NEEDED it, I was still drinking wine (moderating). I think subconsciously I was looking for motivation to stop altogether. I know that even one glass is simply not good for me physically or emotionally. When I did the hypnosis for drinking my motive was to free myself of the need for wine but
I didn’t really want to stop altogether.

Hypnotherapy helped me tremendously. The voice was gone! Soon I was able to go for days without even thinking about it . I didn’t mind if there was no wine in the house, I stopped planning outings depending on whether there would be wine or not, nor did I feel anxious as I walked past the wine section in the supermarket. I was amazed every time I noticed a new response or behaviour.

HOWEVER, I also know it will always be a very slippery slope and how easy it is to slip into old habits
(the neural pathways are still there). I have proved to myself again and again that simply not drinking at all is so very much easier and liberating. I committed during the workshop to 100 alcohol free days and quite honestly can’t tell you how many of those days have already passed because I have no need to
count. I am still noticing new things for example just realised I have been sleeping through the night
which I can’t ever remember doing.. Everything I learnt that day has cemented my new belief system
around alcohol and reinforced all the benefits I had already experienced.

 

2. Can anyone be hypnotised?

Theoretically almost anyone can experience some degree of hypnosis. As with meditation or mindfulness, the more one practices the easier it becomes and the more beneficial it can be. It is a natural state that many of us enjoy daily while we read a book, drive a car or watch a movie. All hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis. The therapist is merely a facilitator to help you get the most learning, healing and insight from the experience. Motivation is the essential ingredient for successful hypnotherapy. You can’t send someone else “to get fixed”. Everyone needs their own motivation to explore new ways of being.

 

Myths busted:

No, you won’t lose control, cluck like a chicken nor do or say anything you don’t want to. Hypnosis makes you very focussed and aware. Some people experience it as a deep relaxation whereas others may
have floating out of body feeling. Everyone is different and every session could well be a different experience. I believe everyone can benefit from hypnotherapy irrelevant of the issue and during the
sessions you will go where you need to go and be open to what you are ready to deal with. You will be able to talk and remember everything (if you choose to).

Humans are complex creatures and hypnotherapy is remarkable in its ability to peel away the layers we have created to protect our “truth”. It’s an amazingly empowering process. The quote Janet shared on the workshop says it all: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate!” C J Jung.

To contact Belinda directly:- belindaroxburgh@nullgmail.com

For more information please feel free to visit www.hypnotherapy.co.za

To qualify as a certified hypnotherapist read this article

world-without-wine-featured-in

Lead a Loved One to the Treatment they Need

People often ask me how they can persuade a partner/friend to seek help so I was delighted to received an guest blog from Bethany Hatton on this tricky subject.  Her grandson became addicted to opoids and as he recovered from an overdose she felt compelled to learn more.  Using the research skills she  honed during her work as a librarian, Bethany dedicated herself to searching the internet to find the most reputable, reliable information.   Her article is below and her website is here :-

There’s no need to beat around the bush: Addiction destroys lives and kills people. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, more than 60,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016 alone, with almost 90,000 casualties related to alcohol. If you suspect that a loved one has fallen victim to substance abuse, you need to take action before they become another sad statistic. Learn what you can do to help now.

Research Addiction

First off, do you know what you’re dealing with? It’s more than just consuming drugs and alcohol to excess. If so, it would be enough to simply ask them to cut down. What’s really going on is their brain has been taken hostage by the substance that they’ve been abusing. In fact, the word “addiction” derives from Latin words meaning “bound to.”

The substance gains control by changing the victim’s internal rewards system that is closely linked to a cerebral structure called the nucleus acumbens, which fires off the “feel-good” chemicals dopamine and serotonin when stimulated. Following repetitive use of drugs and alcohol, the structure stops responding to other sources of pleasure, and users spend more time in pursuit of their own poison.

Check for the Signs

Before going further, you want to be sure that your loved one is actually addicted. While not healthy, coming home drunk or high does not necessitate lengthy, life-changing treatment. Take a close look at their behavior and watch out for the telltale signs of real addiction, which shouldn’t be that hard to separate from a good time gone too far.

The biggest warning is that your loved one cannot stop, even if they know the substance is doing them harm. Also, you’ll notice them spending less time on activities that they used to enjoy such as music, sports or outdoor activities. There will be physical symptoms, such as periods of lethargy and irritability when not under the influence.

Stop the Enabling

If you’re sure this is addiction, make sure you’re not part of the problem; it’s possible you may be enabling the addict unwittingly, warns Psychology Today. This often comes in the form of offering help that only takes away the addict’s motivation to bear responsibility for their actions. You’re essentially putting off the first and most important step toward recovery.

Examine your own actions, and ask yourself some questions, such as:

  • Do you ignore unacceptable behaviour?
  • Do you put your own needs on the backburner to help the addict when they’re in need?
  • Do you lie or make excuses for them?

If you answered yes, then you need to stop. This can be harder than it seems, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from an addiction expert.

Evaluate Treatments

Before trying to convince your loved one to seek help, you should know about what types of programs are available. First off, decide whether to go with outpatient treatment, such as traditional 12-step programs, which are based on a set of guiding principles first put into use to help recovering alcoholics in the 1930s.

Many inpatient programs involve the sufferer residing in a treatment center for up to 90 days. Those with an active spiritual life might thrive in one of the many religious programs scattered throughout the country. Others might be more comfortable in a holistic center that balances therapy with exercise, outdoor activities and meditation. Be sure to check reviews from former patients before selecting one that matches your budget and is covered by your insurance.

Take the Right Approach

Armed with information and a plan of action, it’s time to steer the addict toward treatment. This is something that needs to be done delicately, and it may take some time. Confrontational interventions are giving ground to softer approaches such as Community Reinforcement and Family Training, a motivational strategy with the goal of getting the addict, referred to as an identified patient, into a suitable treatment program.

Do not give up if you don’t succeed at first. Remember that they need you, and look forward to the wonderful times you’ll have when they are healthy again.

««»»

You can find more information on WorldWithoutWine Membership and Workshops below:

 

 

 

A Family Matter

Meet Ryan & Chané – a lovely couple who came on one of our WorldWithoutWine workshops. (You can tap here for more info on our upcoming workshops). 

They’ve ditched the drink and pretty much transformed their lives – but why don’t I let Chané tell  their story …

“Like most South Africans, my husband Ryan and I have had a very socially acceptable relationship with alcohol since our teens, we are now 40 and 43. As 2 young, introverted adults (growing up separately), we both used booze for the social confidence to successfully fit into any occasion or party; a couple of glasses of whiskey, wine, champers or beer and we were the life of any event.

Fast forward a few of years and meeting each other in the high-stress and extremely social television industry, we quickly become a drinking force to be reckoned with. No matter what party, we were always the last to leave and if you were invited to our house, you probably wouldn’t leave till the sun’s up. We always wanted to know who were those people that as soon as the night was at its best, would say good night and leave with a smile.

As we started getting older and especially when we started a family, the party lifestyle wasn’t what it used to be and something was missing.

Our party days.

 

One (lucky and coincidental) day we happened to be driving at the same time in separate cars and heard the soothing voice of a British lady who spoke to dear Eusebius about Tribe Sober and the inability to moderate. That night when kids were in bed, and us, with a beer in hand, started talking about what we heard on the radio. We hadn’t heard the whole conversation so we scrambled for the podcast then listened to every word.

It was such a relief to hear that other people had similar problems and made us look at ourselves and into our past, where did it all start. How can something so available and acceptable be so soul destroying, and how did we miss or ignore this revelation for so long.

 

 

Everything Janet said was me, was us.

How many hours, rands and opportunities were wasted with empty afternoons and evenings of drinking till closing time

Sometimes someone just needs to say the obvious, and if you are ready to accept what you already knew then the battle is half won.

I didn’t want to be mediocre and just another sheep in the herd anymore. I am better than that. We are better than that. I want to be one of the cool kids that say: No thank you, I don’t drink. You can still have an awesome night, in fact a BETTER night.

When we decided to sign up for the workshop, we were obviously scared. It was out of our comfort zone, is it going to be one of those … Trust me fall back in my arms kind of workshops? No drink to hold in my hand and guide me through it. Are they going to see the introvert in me that actually doesn’t like making small talk, which a drink always made better. It is all these small things that are actually big things that pushes us to grab a glass.

 

“The hardest part of giving up alcohol is not the craving for a drink, it’s getting to know yourself again, the person that’s been hiding for so long that you don’t even know anymore” – Chané, Workshop Graduate 

 

Alcohol free living

The advantages are infinite… All the extra time you have on your hands to do something rewarding,  all the conversations you now can remember, just being yourself and never having to be on the back foot because of what alcohol made you do or not do.

I think the battle was mostly won already because Ryan and I were committed in starting this journey together and it has been a flippen awesome ride. I will never drink again, we will never drink again!

In the words of my beautiful husband: Alcohol makes strong men weak”

I don’t want to be weak, I want to be Chané and the best I can be.

Most importantly, our kids are ultimately who we are. If we want the best for them, we need to be the best example we can be!

PS: My only advice, after you’ve made your decision to either abstain completely or just moderate, don’t hide from social events. Because as you conquer each without alcohol you see how you don’t need alcohol to be your awesome self!

And remember people will change towards you and people’s perception of you will change. But don’t let other people’s denials, demons and insecurities deter you. Good luck at being the best you!

We certainly feel a lot better these days and I reckon we look at lot better too!”

What a wonderful and inspiring story from two of my favourite workshop graduates. Congratulations guys – you look amazing!

For more info on upcoming workshops in Joburg and Cape Town  tap here.

Earthy Post

Thank you, Janis Theron, for some practical ideas for saving the planet…

How can we all lighten our carbon footprints on Earth?

So what can we do, each and every tiny individual, to make a difference in the bigger picture of the present Environmental Crisis?

15 Steps Towards Living More Sustainably

  1. Do you really need to go shopping again? Shop once a month in bulk and locally

  2. If you do have to go shopping, avoid plastic and read the label – how can you help someone else/the natural environment?

  3. Avoid all processed foods (read labels) and support local businesses only

  4. Be water wise – save and reuse; indigenous garden

  5. Green your home – solar, grey water, compost, recycling, vege garden

  6. Choose renewable energies

  7. Eat less meat, eat more plants

  8. Choose to have a smaller family

  9. Recycle – make compost; shop at charity shops and donate to them too

  10. Grow your own veggies; keep chickens and even pigs if you can

  11. Don’t buy any disposables – coffees, food, wet wipes, plastic knives and forks, etc

  12. Rely less on your car – use a car pool, public transport, bicycles and walking

  13. Use your voice and vote, sign petitions, stand up for Earth, join a green organisation

  14. Buy Fair Trade products; use Responsible Travel ethics and Sustainable Tourism if you have to go anywhere…

  15. EDUCATE YOURSELF AND TRY HARDER

Read more about it on these environmental organisation websites:

100 Tips to Prevent Relapse

These fabulous 100 tips to prevent relapse have been collected and collated from top addiction experts by John Aldridge.

You can follow John on Twitter on Rehab4Group for more information on how to prevent relapse.

The many steps to avoid relapse are broken down into main points:

1. Utilising others

2. Knowing and avoiding triggers

3. Developing coping mechanisms and psychological strength

4. Goal setting

5. Lifestyle

 

So read all about it here:

100 tips to prevent relapse!

 

9 Things To Tell Yourself When You Want To Drink

By Beth Leipholtz – www.thefix.com

At the end of the day, I am equipped with the tools I need to confront an array of emotions, and none of those tools involve picking up a drink.

Alcoholics wouldn’t be alcoholics if they didn’t want to drink every now and then, even after they’ve become somewhat established in sobriety and have a few years under their belts.

For me, it’s part of the disease to often wish I could be like “normal” people and go out, have a few drinks, then come home and have all be well with the world.

But realistically, that isn’t what would happen if I drank. I wouldn’t have a “few” drinks. I’d have lots and lots of drinks, and it would soon become quite clear why I stopped drinking. So when this feeling of wishing I could drink creeps up on me, I have a few go-to pieces of encouragement to keep me sober.

1. “It’s not worth it.”

This is probably my most common go-to when I need to quiet that little voice in my head. Whatever it is that makes me feel like I want to drink, I can guarantee it wouldn’t be worth it. Drinking in celebration? Not worth it. Drinking over anger? Not worth it. Over heartbreak? Still not worth it. The reality is that no reason is worth taking my sobriety. If I drank, I would wake up feeling so disappointed in myself, to the point that I would probably resort to drinking to cover it up. And so the vicious cycle would begin again. At the end of the day, I am equipped with the tools I need to confront an array of emotions, and none of those tools involve picking up a drink.

2. “This is temporary.”

Whatever “this” is, whatever the root of my desire to drink is, it will pass. When I feel like something couldn’t possibly improve, I remind myself how hopeless and helpless I felt in my first few weeks of sobriety and how, after a few months, getting sober turned into the best thing that ever happened to me. I tell myself that if I could overcome feelingthat despaired, I can overcome any other emotion or obstacle with time.

3. “You stopped drinking for a reason.”

It’s true, I did. All I have to do is think back to all the bad choices I made, the words I drunkenly said, and the relationships I came close to ruining. And just like that, I no longer have a desire to down a drink. I’d rather keep myself in check and be the sober one than be the drunk one and ruin the night. I ruined enough nights, and that is why I stopped drinking when it came down to it.

4. “Do you really want to deal with hangovers again?”

That’s an easy one: no. Not even a little. My hangovers were the worst. If I had a really bad one, I would vomit numerous times throughout the day. Even if it was a mild one, my head still pounded and I shook constantly. I don’t want any of that back in my life. I prefer waking up clearheaded and ready to take on the day without constantly feeling sick to my stomach. You really don’t realize how debilitating hangovers are until you stop having them.

5. “Think about having to own up to what you did.”

The last thing I ever want to do is have to tell the people in my life that I relapsed. Though I’m sure they would still love and support me, I just can’t handle the thought of the disappointment that would follow a statement like that. No matter what mistakes I may have to own up to in the future (and I’m sure there will be many), I want them to be sober mistakes.

6. “Remember how you looked when you were drinking?”

Conjuring up this image isn’t fun for me. There’s a picture of me from the very last night I ever drank, and it still haunts me to this day. My skin has a yellow tint to it, I look bloated beyond belief, and my hair is a disaster. Yet, I didn’t notice any of this at the time because I was too caught up in drinking. Today, I am a few pounds heavier than I was then, but it’s settled differently. I have a glow back that I lacked while drinking. I feel alive again. I never, ever want to go back to looking like the person I was when I was drinking. For some reason, picturing that girl is enough to deter me from thoughts of alcohol.

7. “Remember that one time you ___________?”

Sadly, I could fill in that blank with so many instances, none of which I want to relive. But if I drink, there’s a chance I could relive any of them. When I drink, I make bad decisions and embarrass myself and others. Sometimes all it takes is thinking about that one time I split my knee open, or that time I pulled down my pants and peed outside, or that time I went home with a stranger (the list goes on). None of those instances would be acceptable in my life today, and reminding myself of that is enough to keep me sober.

8. “You’re an adult now.”

If I went back to drinking, I’d drink the way I did in college. I know I would. And in college, people can find a little bit of forgiveness for that type of behavior because, well, it’s college. But now I am a professional. I work in a small-ish town, in a pretty public field, and if I were to go out and drink, I would most likely run into someone I know or who knows me. In college, my drinking was detrimental to every aspect of my life. Now, as an adult with a full-time job, it would be even more so.

9. “You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.”

If I drink, I never know where I’ll end up in the morning or how I will feel. But if I don’t drink, I can guarantee that I’ll end up at home, in my bed, feeling great. In the morning, I’ll know I made the right choice and have another sober day ahead of me. And nothing feels better than that.

Click to read the original article on www.thefix.com

The Wonder of Watsu by Lyndall Shelley

What is it?

Watsu is a water-based therapy used by allied healthcare professionals as well as complimentary and alternative therapists for its many physical and psychological benefits. Developed in the 1980’s by shiatsu practitioner, Harold Dull, it is now practiced the world over. Watsu practitioners, or ‘givers’ (the therapist) study over 3 50-hour courses, to enable them to ‘listen’ to, accept and interpret the individual physical needs of each ‘receiver’ (the client) they encounter.

 

How does it work?

Watsu is performed in a heated pool. The receiver lies in the water while the giver supports and moves them through the water in a smooth and flowing manner. The giver takes time to connect with the receiver through their breathing. The water’s unique properties of buoyancy, turbulence and drag are used to support or stretch the body as required. Some small floats may or may not be used around the legs, and massage may or may not be included. Since the giver is trained to tailor the session to the needs of the receiver on the day, no two watsu sessions are the same.

 

Why watsu?

We are all becoming more and more aware of the strength and power of the mind-body connection. While there are many types of therapy to address the mind facet of psychological and emotional difficulties, there are few that can do the same for the body facet of our beings. Watsu is a physical alternative or adjunct to talk therapies, allowing the body to free up and let go of any holding or tension. The warm water holds and supports the body, allowing a deep state of relaxation to be reached while also allowing muscles to relax and joints to be unloaded. Movements and stretches can be achieved in a way that is not possible on land, all facilitated by the giver.

 

Who is it for?

Like other therapies watsu can be for anyone – we all have ‘stuff’ that we store in our bodies. However, it is of particular benefit to those who are going through or have been through difficulties such as stress, anxiety, grief or trauma. Additionally, it is used more clinically for those with physical problems such as pain, joint stiffness, muscle spasms or increased muscle tone. Watsu enhances the body’s so-called ‘rest-digest’ system, while quieting the ‘fight and flight’ response resulting in decreased heart rate, decreased respiratory rate, blood centralization and decreased muscle spasm. Longer-term benefits may include improved sleep patterns, decreased anxiety, greater decreases in pain, improved digestion and enhanced immune system response.

 

How does it feel?

Lying in the warm water, with your ears submerged, many have described watsu as “like being back in the womb”. Your body is sensitively guided through the water by the practitioner, your eyes are generally closed, and you can hear the soft swishing of the water and your own breathing. Watsu is a wonderful way to help you reconnect with your body and fulfill that mind-body connection that we all need.

 

You might be surprised at the secrets your body is holding on to.

A Hangover Free Life

As Tribe Sober joins the global blogosphere we get a warm welcome from www.ahangoverfreelife.com  in London – thanks Louise!

Author: Louise Rowlinson

Janet has asked me to write this feature as she launches Tribe Sober. Who am I and why am I here? My name is Louise Rowlinson and on 21st September 2013 I decided that I wanted to live a life hangover free. I had spent the previous 5 years trying to moderate and manage my drinking without success and finally decided that enough was enough and I would give not drinking a try. Suffice it to say it was so successful I’ve carried on and here I am.

As well as being a booze hound from the age of 17 I happened to be a nurse who had cared for alcoholic liver disease patients so knew where this road led if I didn’t do something about my drinking, that felt like it was hurtling towards being out of control. I loved a drink and would use any excuse – happy, sad, celebrating, commiserating, bored, stressed, tired – as long as the day endedwith a ‘y’ I would drink. In my final year of battling to control the bottle I also trained as a public health nurse and noticed how little there was to support those who weren’t physically addicted to alcohol, but had a serious emotional or psychological addiction, just like me. Who were using increasing amounts of booze to smooth the edges of life and numb how they felt. Self-medicating on a far too regular basis.

I always drank more than I planned to from my earliest memories and chose friends who drank just like me so my drinking felt very normal. I had grown up with a father who drank every day so excessive alcohol consumption was completely normalised. In my world this is what you did. Once I’d had one drink all bets were off. Socially it isn’t just accepted it is socially expected that we drink. Drinking and alcohol has become so thoroughly embedded in our cultures and society that stepping away from that can feel isolating. A community is critical to support us in our desire to change our behaviours and habits or else we risk being a lone voice and then the siren call back to alcohol can be strong and irresistible. All our friends saying ‘oh one won’t hurt you’ not knowing that one opens the door to so much more for some of us ……

So I started to write a blog, and then design online tools, an e-book and workshops to provide the very thing that I felt was lacking. Curating the knowledge, information and skills to allow myself and others to make an informed choice about our drinking and empowering and supporting those who chose to cut down or stop. As my blog grew followers, people from around the globe reached out to me and me to them. I realised that within the sober blogosphere there were thousands of us all looking for the answer to why we drank too much and didn’t seem to be able to control it once we started. Lots of women and men just like me.

I’m in the UK and here we have Soberistas and Club Soda, which is how I met Janet. In Australia there is Hello Sunday Morning, New Zealand has Living Sober and the US has many including Hip Sobriety. Sober online, and then in real life, communities springing up across the world. And so it is that I welcome our newest addition to the sober blogosphere, Tribe Sober, adding South Africa to the list of continents spreading the sober love…

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