After The Challenge is Over
Challenges are great motivation for both stopping and for cutting down drinking, and with such a variety of both free and paid for challenges, depending on the support you want, there’s something out there to suit most of us. Recently I wrote a post about how to prepare yourself for a challenge, but of course, there’s more to it, and we have to think about the best way to move forward after the challenge ends. The last thing we need is to slip up when we have done so well.
Some people might choose another challenge, overlapping one into another, until they feel more secure and able to go it alone so to speak, but realistically, while it’s a great idea, this won’t be feasible for all of us, so let’s look at what else we can do to help.
• Set your boundaries and stick to them. Sobriety isn’t for everyone, but it is a huge positive to so many of us. Don’t change your mind because other people suggest it, or to fit in with what other’s might expect. They aren’t in your shoes, and you are the only one in the position to choose what is right for you. I had many a comment about why I wasn’t drinking anymore and what a shame that was, but I honestly think that reflects more on other people’s concerns about themselves than on our own choices.
• Always make sure you aren’t thirsty, as this can lead us to think about drinking again. I always take a water bottle everywhere with me, not that I always need it, but especially in the early days, I didn’t want to think about needing a drink of any sort.
• Treat yourself. For many, the idea of reward and alcohol become intertwined, I think this is partially down to alcohol being so socially accepted and promoted, and it can feel like we are going against the grain a little. So find other things that you enjoy to reward yourself with. It can be anything, from lovely long soak in the bath, to a nice bit of chocolate cake, or a new item of clothing.
• Find a new release. Many of us who have come to rely on drinking for stress or anxiety will find it hard to replace it, but it can be done. Since I’ve stopped drinking, I’ve got a lot more physical. I do yoga, run, swim, kayak, walk, not all at the same time of course, but on the other hand, I also find time to read, draw and enjoy quiet time. It doesn’t matter what you enjoy, just find something that grabs your attention and keeps you away from temptation.
• Be kind to yourself. So many people count the days, saying they’ve only done XX amount, like it isn’t really enough. I cannot stress enough how important each and every day is. Each day is a win, so remember that. Don’t beat yourself up if you find it hard, just remember what you are achieving.
• Ask for help. It doesn’t have to mean paying someone for their services, although there are a lot of fantastic coaches out there, there are also lots of groups and meetings you can join. I always remember the brilliant saying, connection is the opposite of addiction. It really makes a huge difference, and don’t think I’m saying you have to go out telling people that you don’t know about your sobriety, although you can if you want. I’m just saying that by connecting with a like minded group of people you suddenly have a shared experience that links you. Those shared experiences make us stronger.
Above all, remember how far you’ve come, and don’t be too hard on yourself. If you put the hard work in, you’ll achieve everything you hope to.
Take care of yourselves,