I am overwhelmed by the support and connections made after dropping my last blog post about my year of sobriety. Everyone knows it's hard work. I think people are often curious about abstaining from drinking but aren't sure they have the strength to follow through with trying life out alcohol-free. We often see ourselves giving up before we even get started. We think, what will I do instead? It's difficult to envision sobriety when alcohol is so readily available all around us.
As I said in the article, alcohol dependency is different for everyone. It can even change based on your current environment. When I was with my friends, I would over do it. Every single time. It seemed to help in keeping the entertainment alive as the hours would pass. But when I drank at home, it was a different story. I wasn't turning to alcohol to be social and fun. I was counting on it to take the edge away. It didn't seem to matter what emotion I was experiencing. Anger, anxiety, and even contentment all made me feel like a stiff drink would compliment them nicely. So when I gave up drinking, I had to have some options. Options as relaxing and unwinding as the liquid I used to think did the trick.
What do you rely on to take the edge off?
Obviously, the stressors of my life didn't magically go away just because I started a sobriety challenge. They were still in full force. Let's also add in a global pandemic. I quickly had to figure out what I was going to lean on when my emotions insisted on having a companion. Often times, what we need is a good distraction. Here are some of my go-to's for when situations start to make me feel a bit vulnerable.
No one can dispute the power of music. It has the ability to take us back or move us forward. It can draw sloppy tears or send a smile sailing across our face. It also has the potential to slow our worry, anger, or sorrow in just a few minutes. Take time to create a playlist of your all-time favorite tunes. The ones that lift you up and get you going. (Not those old love ballads!) Pop on your earbuds or headset and get your toes tapping. Whether you are doing dishes, walking the dog, or playing a board game, good background noise can come to the rescue in times of stress or excitability. Driving a vehicle? This is also a great time to enjoy your favorite tunes instead of allowing your mind to overthink. Good music and a long car ride can do wonders for the soul!
Rebirth an old hobby you used to love. Or, better yet, start one you wish you always had! Go buy the materials or items needed to make it happen. We all have some form of creative beast lingering inside of us. Painting, knitting, kayaking, baking, writing, golfing, surfing, cake decorating... the list of possibilities is endless. All of these require skill, growth, and creative genius. Any one of these hobbies could potentially wake your inner child and begin to fill your time in a much healthier way. You have permission to splurge on yourself! Spend money on the items needed to bring your hobby to life. And don't you dare say, "I'm not creative enough." Everyone is! You just have to figure out what it is you enjoy doing. Seek your true passion. Do it alone, or ask a friend to join. Whatever helps you to relax and maintain inner peace, do that! I always have my hand in some sort of craft project. It's my way of escaping when I can't actually leave.
Sugar isn’t a health food, but it’s also not as horrible as it’s sometimes made out to be. Indulging and sinking your teeth into something decadently delicious every now and then won't be the life of you. Grab a gourmet cupcake from a local bakery. Stop by a chocolate shop and hide a few finger sized treats in your freezer for when vulnerability hits. Put on your apron and whip up a recipe that recently caught your eye or is collecting dust on your Pinterest board. Use these delights as a reward when you have made it through a particularly tough day or perhaps a full week of sobriety. It is important to reward and acknowledge your efforts. (Just make sure you don't create a new addiction!) Dessert should be a treat you look forward to on occasion.
#4 Bath Salts
I don't care if you are a man or woman, a nice hot bath can do wonders in relaxing our muscles, joints, and body tension. It is also extremely calming and can aid in ridding your mind of racing thoughts. (You know, those ones that like to make you think you need a drink.) Adding salt is a giant bonus to your soaking time. The heat of the water opens our pores and allows the skin to absorb at a faster rate. Salt is detoxifying and literally pulls out the toxins trapped in our skin. There is also some research out there to support that salt can actually promote new skin cell growth and improve tone and texture. I whole-heartedly agree salt makes a big difference! The best part is that there are so many varieties out there to choose from. I often buy Dr. Teals Epsom Salt Soaking Solution which is infused with essential oils. Or sometimes I just add my own choice of essential oils to the water to benefit from them as well. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after a hot salt soak.
When some people quit drinking, it is imperative they stay away from all things alcohol. My personal challenge involved a different approach. I didn't want to remove it from my home. We are social people and many of our friends and family members drink socially. We even have a backyard cabana by the pool where we often host gatherings. I didn't want to make myself or others uncomfortable. Mocktails are a great alternative for social situations. Delicious drinks, minus the alcohol. I Googled recipes for some fancy concoctions and even purchased some pre-made ones available out there to have around just in case. When I am in the company of those partaking in alcoholic beverages, I am sure to have a mocktail readily available. They even look like a real cocktail! These days there are also many beer distributors putting out NA options. The silver lining... waking up feeling like a million dollars the next morning! You can have a great time mingling without the harsh side effects of alcohol consumption.
These are just some of my go-to's. There are plenty of other alternatives out there. It's all about making healthier choices and finding what is going to work for you.
You can do it! If I can, anybody can!