I woke up this morning feeling bittersweet. I was grateful that I woke up sober but also felt sad about the years wasted on addiction. As I felt my mind pull me down, I reached for my toolbox of strategies and pulled out gratitude. The morning sets the tone for the day, and I want a good one. I have things to look forward to and people to see. I begin to shift my mind from regrets and missed opportunities to thinking of the cherished moments gathered throughout the sober years.
I feel grateful that I have my toolbox of strategies. But I remember like it was yesterday -- what it was like to wake up with impending doom, and the only thing I could think about was a drink.
In this article, I share some strategies I used when I first got sober to pull me out of a black hole of despair instead of reaching for a drink.
When I first quit drinking, first thing in the morning, the minute my brain kicked in, I had to read something positive or inspirational to set my mind on the right track. I love The Language of Letting Go, a book of daily inspirations by Melody Beattie. There are also some great online inspirational daily readings available, but I prefer something tangible that I can connect with physically and put my hands on.
When mentally spinning out of control, bring the reality here, in the moment, where everything is ok. A powerful way to get rid of impending doom is to tap into your senses – bite into a citrusy orange, listen to music, or pick up a sketchpad. For anxiety, I keep a small baggy full of ice cubes and put them under my eyes. A bag of peas also works.
Don’t stay trapped in your head with your thoughts. That is a dangerous place to be. Who can you call? Do you have a sister or sober friend you can talk to? Connect with other women in person or online and stay connected or go for a walk but do not isolate.
Practice HALT. Do a body scan. Are you Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?
Finally, the thought of quitting forever was too much for me. Instead, commit to saying no to the next drink, and then the next. I have been alcohol-free for over thirty years by not taking the next first drink. It works!
If you have difficulties quitting drinking and staying quit, watch for details of my upcoming GendHer®️ program for women!
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