By Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW One of the most challenging aspects of getting sober, regardless…
Staying Sober: Tips, Techniques and Mental Strategies
When you were using, life seemed to slide by quickly without having to worry much about how to occupy your time. Life was consumed by buying and using drugs. Once you get sober, though, staying sober may be difficult because you have much more free time than you did before. What are you supposed to do if you’re not drinking or using? How can you stay sober when it’s so difficult to live life this new, uncomfortable way?
After drinking and using for so long, your brain may struggle to remember what you’re supposed to do. Sobriety may seem boring but it’s actually the beginning of a beautiful life. You’ll rediscover lost interests or develop new ones. You’ll realize how much time you wasted while drinking and using. But now you have the opportunity to spend your time doing enjoyable, healthy things.
#1 Rediscover Old Hobbies
There were likely things you loved to do before alcohol and drugs took over your life. Think about things you enjoyed doing in the past and try them out again. Whether it’s reading, running, cooking or singing, there are many hobbies you may have had and you can rediscover why you loved them so much.
#2Find Some New Hobbies
Starting a sober life gives you the opportunity to find new things you love to do. Try out rock climbing, bowling or gardening. You may discover a new hobby that gives you a reason to stay sober so you can devote your attention to it. Mix in new hobbies with old hobbies to keep yourself occupied and away from drugs and alcohol.
#3 Get Some Exercise
Exercise is an excellent option for releasing endorphins and staying healthy physically and mentally. It’s a great way to relieve stress and take some time for yourself to clear your head on a difficult day. Swimming provides an incredible workout, as well as jogging, weight lifting, or even a vigorous walk.
#4 Practice Yoga
If traditional exercise is not your style, yoga is another way to get your mind and body in shape at the same time. It provides an awareness of your body that is unavailable while drinking or using; you’re able to get in tune with yourself in a way you couldn’t before.
Writing in a journal gives you the outlet you need for all the feelings you experience during early sobriety. Drugs and alcohol numb your feelings and processing all of them can be overwhelming. Journaling is a productive way to work through everything you go through during recovery and also gives you something to look back on as you mature.
Contemplative meditation, like yoga, helps you focus on your breathing and your place within the world. It may be hard at first to slow your thoughts down. Don’t expect yourself to sit down and meditate for an hour at the beginning; practice with 15 or 30 seconds to begin and move up from there. Breathe slowly in and out. Following a guided meditation may also prove beneficial.
#7 Go to Self-Help Support Meetings
Twelve-step meetings and 12-step alternatives like SMART Recovery are a wonderful way to meet other addicts or alcoholics struggling with the same issues you deal with every day. They are full of people who understand what you’re going through and provide a pathway to live sober on a daily basis. They are often available every day of the week at many times throughout the day and they’re free to attend.
This list is by no means complete. There are hundreds of ways to stay sober and experience life as it’s meant to be lived. Do you have any other ideas?