Staying Sober: Choosing A Hangover Free Life
I spent two years trying (and failing) to give up drinking. Two years of day ones, with some extended periods of sobriety, only to hop back on the booze wagon and be reminded of exactly why I was trying to quit.
My goal for a long time was to stop drinking, and then once I stopped – the goal shifted to staying sober.
I don’t focus on my sobriety every day, some days I barely think of it – my life is set up in a way now that I don’t drink, and so alcohol doesn’t factor. Other days, staying sober (in body and mind) takes a lot of effort.
I work to maintain my physical, mental and emotional health
These days I work to maintain my physical, mental and emotional health – so that I have a baseline to work from. When I drank, I went out a lot and didn’t sleep enough. My body was consistently playing catch up with my lifestyle. I was exhausted a lot of the time and when a good night’s sleep would have helped a lot, I often chose to go out again instead.
I am by no means perfect; sobriety didn’t fix me but it has given me a stable platform in which to consistently look after myself and set myself up for a happier, healthier life. Naturally, I am not great with routine. Yet when I removed alcohol, routine came a little bit easier.
Staying sober for me now includes trying to get eight hours sleep, journalling, meditating, going to yoga as often as I can, checking in with friends and catching my low moods and/or *fuck it* moments early enough to ensure I choose a coping mechanism that will not cause me harm.
In the last 18 months or so, there have been times when I’ve thought: fuck it, I want to have a drink. I don’t owe anyone anything. But I haven’t had one. the benefits of living sober far outweigh what I think I’ll get from booze.
The benefits of living sober far outweigh what I think I’ll get from booze.
When I think I want to drink these days, it tends to be because I want to escape. I am in a sticky situation, or there are emotions I do not want to feel and that little mean voice in my head says: numb this pain, then you won’t have to feel like this. I know now that numbing is not a solution. And that waking up, with a hangover, blackout anxiety and having lost nearly 18 months of sobriety will not fix anything.
I move through these feelings. I talk to whoever is close to me (often in physical proximity) about wanting a drink but not having one, or I leave a voice note for one of my friends, or I post on instagram and find support there.
Staying Sober: 4 actions that help me stay alcohol free
1.Get Quiet / Meditate
Even if it is just for a minute. Stop, be still and let yourself calm the fuck down. I/We are often so frantic that we never stop to listen to what we need. Meditation/ quiet time helps us to create distance from the crazy that is our minds.
2.Go For a Walk
I was feeling shit yesterday. Really shit, and stuck and a bit helpless. Sitting at home and ruminating on my problems is risky territory for me. When I’m feeling like that, I get outside and go for a walk. Moving my body helps, it physically helps to shift the funk that I am feeling.
3.Reach out to a Sober Friend
When I’m really in the thick of it, I reach out to friends who understand what I’m going through. My sober friends get it, they get how hard it can feel to live your life with eyes wide open and taking responsibility for all of your actions. They also understand how important it is for me/you not to drink – and can coach you away from the edge. If meetings are your path, go to one. And if you don’t have a sober circle, the fantastic Facebook groups Club Soda, Team Sober UK and Women Who Don’t Drink are full of alcohol free people who can give you support and advice.
4.Read Books about Sobriety
When I first stopped drinking, I filled my mind with quit-lit. Books about stopping drinking; memoirs, self-help books and science books that laid out the case for sobriety. I even wrote a whole blog post on it: books about sobriety. If I begin to wobble now, or I am having a bad day – I reread one of these books. Reading helps to reaffirm my decision, reminds me of all the great stuff that has happened since I decided to quit alcohol and all of the not-so-great stuff I’ve avoided by staying sober!
Staying sober is a decision I made for me, I choose this hangover free life. This isn’t a one year challenge for me, it is a way of life. A way of life that has improved my life beyond my wildest dreams.
Thanks for reading, L xx
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