How to Stay Sober: Essential Tips Part 2
How to Stay Sober:
Essential Tips Part II
Welcome to Part II of ‘How to Stay Sober: Essential Tips”. In Part I we looked at 6 tips that can be easily incorporated into your daily routines to help you stay sober. If you missed Part I, you can view it here.
This week we’ll take a look at 6 more tips and techniques to help you stay on top of your recovery. We recommend trying all of the tips from both Blogs to see which ones work best for you. Everyone is different and what one person finds useful might not have the same effect on you. Time spent building your sobriety tool kit is never wasted and even if you don’t use these tools for yourself, you might be able to pass them on to someone who will.
Practice Healthy Living
Misusing drugs and/or alcohol can take a major toll on your physical health. Now that you are in recovery you have the opportunity to prioritize self-care and put some time and effort into restoring your health. Your body has supported you through a lot and now it’s time to give back!
As a bare minimum, you should ensure that you:
- Exercise regularly – if going to the gym is not ‘your thing’ try to engage in active hobbies and sports.
- Eat regular, well-balance meals.
- Get ample, quality sleep. Try to establish a regular sleep pattern.
- Practice relaxation strategies, like mindfulness, meditation and yoga.
You may also find it beneficial to visit your doctor and explain that you are in recovery and would like to know more about your health. The doctor may run some blood tests to check that certain functions, such as your liver function, have not been impaired. Your doctor may also give you advice about how to maintain and rebuild your health based on your individual circumstances.
Focus on Your Finances
People in recovery from a substance use disorder sometimes have problems meeting work-related responsibilities, maintaining employment, and managing money. If you were active in your addiction for a period of time, you may have developed some financial problems which will need addressing.
Financial troubles, and problems finding and keeping employment are major triggers for relapse5 but it is possible to take baby steps to start geting your finances in order. Keep in mind that financial problems don’t just go away and getting your finances back on track is typically a long term project as opposed to a ‘quick fix’.
You may be anxious about addressing financial issues, but facing up to them allows you to make a plan for the future and puts you back in control of the situation. If you are finding it hard to grasp, talk to your bank or check with a national debt helpline. There is a lot of help available for free, including the twelve step program, Debtor’s Anonymous (DA). DA is not only for people in debt; the program also addresses over-spending, under-earning and general powerlessness around financial matters.
If you haven’t updated your resume in a while, now is a good time to do so. If you are already working or planning to return to work, make a financial plan which includes your monthly budget for rent, food, transport etc so that you can keep track of where your money is going.
Stay Cool and Calm
Many addicts and alcoholics turned to drinking or using because they were unable to deal with certain emotions. It is not unusual in early recovery to struggle with emotions which you had previously been able to chase away with substances.
You may find that anger presents itself when you are in a difficult situation. Anger is a normal and natural emotion, but how you deal with it will make a difference in maintaining your recovery.
For some alcoholics and addicts, it’s simply a matter of never having learned the appropriate way to manage anger. If you find that you are becoming more angry than you feel comfortable with, talk to a recovery or medical professional. Anger can be a triggering factor so it’s important that you learn how to manage it in a healthy way that won’t harm others, yourself or your recovery.
Counsellors at the Lighthouse Bali are very familiar with assisting those in early recovery to manage their emotions and our therapy sessions can be taken online. You can find more information about our Online Therapy Options here.
Deal With Past Mistakes, Guilt & Shame
It is impossible to be fully present in the moment if you constantly have one foot in the past. Most people come into recovery carrying a lot of guilt and shame over their addictions and past behaviours.
Shame is best described as having negative beliefs about yourself and your self-worth. Guilt is having negative feelings about your past behaviour. Both of these emotions are normal; however, if these feelings are excessive, they can hold you back in your recovery. If you are trying to maintain a sober lifestyle, those feelings can become toxic and cause you to relapse if you do not deal with them properly.
Remember that mistakes made in the past can often be among our best sobriety tools if we learn from them, deal with them and move on. If you feel like your past is holding you back, online counselling will help you to deal with your emotions in a new, healthy and productive manner. If you are working a twelve-step recovery program, your past actions will be addressed in steps 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
Find Balance in Your Life & Avoid Substituting
A common mistake for those who are new to alcohol and drug recovery is substituting the addiction they have given up with another one.7 If you find yourself approaching your new diet, fitness regime or even your job with a compulsion that echoes addiction, you may need some additional help letting go.
Although your new activity might be healthy or productive, the compulsive approach will usually make it unsustainable and when you fail to keep going, it’s likely to trigger a relapse. The secret to long term sobriety is to find a healthy balance of activities that cover all key areas of life, for example: exercise, socialising, working, quiet time etc. If you are compulsive in one area, it is likely that you are being neglectful of another area.
If you find that you are bouncing from one compulsive behavior to another, professional counselling will help you to get to the root of why you are behaving in this way. From there you will be able to create a constructive plan for moving forward.
If you’re involved in a 12-step recovery program you will already know about the concept of celebrating milestones. In Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, sobriety chips are given at certain milestones: 24 hours, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, 9 months, one year and then annually after that. Acknowledging your achievement and hard work is important for maintaining your own motivation and for motivating others in the group.
If you are not part of a 12-step program, you should still recognise these milestones and reward yourself. Share your sobriety date with close and trusted family or friends who you would like to share your milestones with.
Use each milestone as an opportunity to look back on what you have achieved since your last milestone and remind yourself that your achievements are due to you being clean and sober.
We hope that through this two part series you have found some tips that work for you and your recovery. Remember that not everyone’s recovery is a smooth ride all of the time. There will always be events or circumstances which could set you back, but the key to long term sobriety is keeping things in perspective and recognising when you need additional help.
If you would like to talk to one of our professional therapists about your personal circumstances, send us an email and we will get right back to you.