13 June. 2020
Adjusting to life without alcohol can be very difficult when you’ve spent a long time living with an addiction. Suddenly you have much more time to fill, and it can be confusing and also frustrating to work through it. In some instances it can seem easier to give in and have a drink, and yet, in reality if you can keep on going, each day will get easier. That’s something I learned the hard way!
Learning to live in a way that leaves behind your old lifestyle can feel impossible, so it’s important to put the right strategies in place in order to make it successful. Addiction is insidious, and before you know it, it has crept into every area of your life, with everything seeming to revolve around having that drink. Just hoping a change will work probably won’t be enough, so here’s some pointers that might help.
1. Connection. Get out with people. Or, stay in with people. Find new people, or reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. You might find some relationships are damaged, if you have put your addiction in the way. Some might be salvageable, but not every one of them, and in all honesty, you might not want to salvage them all. As you evolve, you might find yourself wanting to put distance between you and some of your old ‘friends’. That isn’t always a bad thing.
2. Hobbies. There are so many things to try, and everyone is good at something different. I took up drawing when I first stopped drinking. I found I had much more patience than I had before, and would sit and practice for ages. It really helped me find a bit of quiet and time for myself. As time has gone on my hobbies have evolved, but just having time to find new things that I enjoy has been really wonderful.
3. Exercise. It doesn’t matter what, you can go to the gym, you can run or you can start a fitness class like yoga. After spending so much time treating your body harshly, it can feel good to respect it and treat it well again. Everyone responds and enjoys different things, so don’t worry if the first thing you try doesn’t suit you, equally, be open-minded enough to try something new. I never thought I’d enjoy running, but I do, that was a huge surprise for me. Team sports might be something fun to try, and you might end up making new friends too.
4. Volunteering. Giving something back to the community is a great way to help you feel good about yourself, do something for others and keep yourself busy all at once. It’s good to have a purpose as it makes you feel valued. I personally like to volunteer quite frequently at parkrun, but there are so many different ways you can give your time to help out others.
5. Travel. Okay, so maybe not right now, but when the world starts running again properly again, it might be nice to explore and see new places. They don’t have to be far, but they can be if you have the time and money, but you can do a fair bit of travelling on a shoestring. For now, maybe you can start planning things, and have a list of places to go when travelling is easier again. A change in environment is a great way to help you change your habits, there is nothing so triggering as being stuck in your same rut all the time. Change things up a little and it might make a huge difference to you.
There is no limit to the things you can try, so don’t limit yourself. Make the most of your time and energy and try to enjoy exploring new things. I think the most important thing to remember is that you need to change everything you can to make sobriety easier and more successful. If you just hope to stop drinking and carry on everything else in your life in the same way, not only are you making things really super hard for yourself, but you’re also going to find it likely that there are a lot of temptations and triggering situations right there in front of you. Changing things gives you a fresh perspective, and you might find out things you didn’t know about yourself too!