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Happy New Year! We made it through another marathon round of holiday parties, gatherings, and festivities, hopefully with your sanity and sobriety intact!
For those exploring sobriety this month, welcome! Dry January is a great time to realize all the amazing benefits of getting sober and going alcohol free for the long haul. The immediate benefits of better sleep, clarity of thought, clearer skin, to name a few are well worth the commitment.
But what about the bigger picture? During this past month, did you catch glimpses of sober life that made you ponder what a life free from alcohol could look like?
Hopefully you realize that you are just as smart, just as funny, and just as confident without alcohol. Perhaps you’ve even come to the realization that alcohol is a crutch that is only holding you back from greatness.
So what if this is more than a stint? Could you really stay sober, for good? My answer of course is yes, you absolutely can! But a few things need to happen first, starting with your mindset. Here are three tips to transition from Dry January to living a happy, sober, alcohol free life for good.
Change Your Mindset
For many, participating in dry January has an end date or goal: get to January 31 sober. However, we need to shift from a goal mindset to a lifestyle mindset.
Rather than focusing on achieving that goal or end date, think of all the wonderful things that happened during that month of sobriety. Do your clothes fit better? Are you able to knock out more early morning sweat sessions because you aren’t waking up hungover? Are you sleeping better? Are you more mindful with your time? Does your skin look clearer??!?!
There are so many wins that happen every single day waking up sober, that that getting to the end of January should almost feel like a letdown!
Figure out your fears regarding sobriety (we all have them!) then turn your focus to all of the amazing perks and benefits of sober. With this shift you will see that going alcohol free is a no-brainer!
Arm Yourself With Knowledge
Did you white knuckle it through January, nearly giving into temptations of happy hours, winery tours, and bar crawls every few days? You need to arm yourself with support in order to make the break from alcohol permanent. One of the first things I did, knowing that I wanted to be sober forever but not knowing how to tackle such a large commitment was to read, read, and read some more.
Book after book, blog after blog, I read anything and everything I could on how to stay sober. But something that was life changing for me was a book called This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. Annie shared her story about her deep struggles with alcohol in such a way that I felt like I was conversing with an old friend. Page after page, Annie debunked myths surrounding alcohol and why one might feel it impossible to give it up forever.
By the time I finished reading the book, I was not only ready to tackle lifelong sobriety head on, I was ready to argue with anyone about just how destructive, toxic, and insidious alcohol is to anyone who drinks it. And don’t get me started on how the alcohol industry primes our children for alcohol use well before they are of legal drinking age!
If you are trying to find your way through sobriety, think of this book as a way to light that path.
Make A Sobriety Toolbox
Making a sobriety toolbox is easier than it sounds, and it doesn’t have to be complicated! Have a few key items that you can lean into in order to help you through your days or that can help to ground you when you feel yourself spiraling towards breakdown. Have a mixture of long term activities as well as a few quick help / SOS activities to help diffuse stressful situations.
Keep it simple! For example, my toolbox includes movement. Working up a sweat helps to ground me, so I make sure to incorporate exercise and mindful movement into my schedule most days.
For quick relief during particularly stressful times, I will reach for my lavendar essential oil roll on and rub it on my temples and underneath my nose while taking a few calming breaths to rewire any negative or anxious thoughts.
Affirmations are also a great way to get through those times where you are feeling triggered enough to reach for the bottle. Something as simple as telling yourself, ”Today, I choose not to drink” can make all the difference in staying sober another day. Check out my affirmation page and choose your favorites.
Support from a trusted friend or family member, as well as therapy are also great long term ideas and options to add to your toolbox. Therapy is a great long term option to work through some of the issues and problems that might have led to misusing and abusing alcohol.
A sample sobriety toolbox might look like:
Every morning, I wake up and will pray / meditate / spend some quiet time reading.
If I am a planner, I will look over my schedule for the day so I know what I need to prepare and plan for. Identify events that you might need to decompress after.
I will exercise 30 minutes 4 times a week.
I will take a walk outdoors with my family several times a week in the evenings, weather permitting.
Once a month I will plan to visit a special place or visit a new park for hiking / exploring.
I will take a relaxing bubble bath once per week.
I will have a trusted friend who knows I am sober that I can call and talk to if I need to vent.
I will have some essential oils on hand to help alter my mood/calm me down if I find myself in a stressful situation.
You can stay the course in sobriety and live an alcohol free life, for good. Use the momentum from Dry January, and with a few tweaks, you can discover all the benefits of alcohol free living.
Take life and sobriety one day at a time, one moment at a time, one event at time. Give yourself grace, and learn to be present. Half the battle is showing up every day, and while it sounds cliche, it’s such a true statement, especially for us sober folks! If we show up every day, even for the hard stuff, we have already won.
Take the three tips above to begin changing your relationship with alcohol. Develop a lifestyle mindset, arm yourself with knowledge, and create a sobriety tool box to help keep you well and resilient in sobriety.
Have any other tips below that have helped you stay the course with your sobriety? Share those tips with us!