Things I work on in recovery…

Monday 23 Feb, 2015, 2:57pm by Mrs D 30 comments

These are some of the things that I do to ‘work’ at my recovery, the things that keep my happily sober, the day-in-day out way that I look after my sober self and those around me (which feeds back to me of course). I got worried after I wrote this that I am sounding like a perfectly perfect saint who does everything just right and is bloody perfect! Believe me I’m not!!! But this is what I try to focus on and aim for… and when I put energy into these things – and of course never drink alcohol! – then I am a happier version of myself.

#1 Exercise. I stopped exercising last year for 6 months and I think it made a big difference to my mental health. I’m not a natural exercise person but feel immeasurably better when it is implemented in my life. I’m now back at the gym and am going 2-3 times a week! Bit of treadmill walking/running and 9 different weights machines – 45 mins to 1 hour. Headphones on throughout with my music blasting loudly in my ears. I’m starting to feel strong and ‘in’ my body again. It’s great.

#2 Diet. I aim to be mostly wheat/sugar free. Anyone who knows me knows that I struggle with sugar. It’s definitely related to my drinking problem. I tend to use it in place of wine to deal with stress/boredom/funky moods/celebrations/rewards etc. I am very mindful of this and mostly keep it under control. I feel sooooooo much better (lighter and cleaner) when I don’t eat bread, pasta, biscuits, muffins or cakes. Or fudge. Or chocolate. Or coconut ice.

#3 Mental Health. I think I’m a naturally optimistic/upbeat person but having avoided negative emotions for 20+ years (with the help of booze of course) I’m now having to accept and live with the rough phases of my mind. Sadness/anger/stress/glumness/angst… these feelings arrive more often and sometimes hang around for a while. I listen to Tara Brach talks which are hugely beneficial and I’m also working on new mindful/meditation techniques to quiet my mind. I’m also trying to simply accept these feelings as gifts, because they teach me so much, and make up the fabric of a rich, full, and sober life.

#4 Entertainment. Radio & TV. The things that make me happy. I have the stereo in my car tuned to 5 different radio stations so I can always find something fun to groove to, I have my iPhone loaded with favourite tunes that I plug into my kitchen speakers and listen to when I’m cooking, and I listen to a news station on the radio in the kitchen as well. I watch drama series on TV with Mr D (Vikings, House of Cards & Better Call Saul current favourites), we both also watch American Idol! I watch some other Reality TV and keep up with celebrity gossip on Channel E.

#5 Sober treats. I buy myself fresh flowers every week. Always a bunch of lilies for the hall table and another bunch of something colourful for the kitchen bench. I never ever feel bad about the cost ($$$ saved not buying wine!!). I also buy myself treaty non-alcoholic drinks sometimes when I’m at the supermarket (Hopt Soda or tonic water latest favourites) and I make mocktails from our ‘Drink of the Week’ archives when I’m in the mood. I also occasionally treat myself to nice face creams or shampoo (when our household budget allows it). These things are important to me and I am conscious of them being ‘sober treats’ i.e. little treats for me to let me know that I am proud of me for being sober.

#6 Friends and Family. I think of the immediate people around me as precious jewels and I try to be kind and generous to them always. I try to stay in touch with what’s going on for my family members and work on staying in contact with those that live out-of-town. I relish my girlfriends and take every opportunity to see them and share honestly about what is going on with me and listen properly to what is going on for them. I think about my job as a mother a lot and try hard to do a good job, and I appreciate and love my husband a huge amount and try to be a good wife to him. I’m not a saint, sometimes I’m probably self absorbed and not achieving my upmost with family and friends but I aim to be the best I can be because it makes me feel good and is hopefully nice for them in return.

Please chime in below with what you do to work at your recovery and your sober self. Everyone’s journey is different, but by honestly sharing we are all made stronger.

Love, Mrs D xxx

30 comments

  1. Just love walking my dogs – seeing the excited little tails wagging and smiling faces just as I put on my walking gear – If I’m hungover its like they already know and just stay in their bed all gloomy and depressed – like me I guess!!!

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  2. I work on riding my bike and encouraging my wife and kids to do the same. I ride competitively and also enjoy the whole culture… we ride to cafe’s and eat cake or whatever and drink good coffee. I also love making great drinks on the nutriliving website.

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    1. Nice! I’m not sober yet, but being the best I can at mountain biking is actually a huge motivator to get there. Love the culture as well, although beer is a huge part of it, which is a bummer.

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  3. Always good to read you MrsD and I’m looking forward to your new blogging space.

    I want to come from somewhere slightly different for a minute. In my first couple of years sober, I noticed that many of my thinking patterns were negative and fixational, they echoed the way I had come to think while drinking. Almost every day for years, I would fight with myself about drinking or not drinking, berate and blame myself for relapsing, blame myself for not doing better, put myself down and nag at myself. On and on and on..

    When I sobered up, I began fixating on how much sugar I was consuming (we all binge on sugar in early sobriety, it has to do with unstable blood sugar as much as cravings or unhealthy eating patterns). I would go into a blaming and berating routine of good cop/bad cop, either promising myself savoury treats or dire punishments if I didn’t stop eating chocolate or putting sugar in coffee. The inner thought pattern itself was painful and exhausting..

    And that same pattern was there with doing exercise, with learning to handle confrontations, with work habits or the lack of them: a mild but obsessive pattern revealing the divided self at war within. I inwardly spoke to myself in a way I would NEVER speak to anyone else. Impatient, exasperated, contemptuous. This was an acquired habit strongly influenced by the years of drinking and the love-hate relationship with the drinking self.

    Meditation helped me notice and pay attention to the discomfort generated by these patterns. What I began doing then, was to diversify activities and do things that didn’t perpetuate the old patterns. In other words, activities that weren’t about success or failure, healthy or unhealthy, rewards or deprivation. To break the polarities, I did things like meditating or chanting mantras, playing with my dogs, spending a week taking quick snapshots of leaves on a neighborhood tree, doing research on things unconnected to work but which had always interested me — reading up on pangolins, looking at botanical art, watching videos of stand-up comics, doodling with paints, making soup for the local soup kitchen, singing in the bath. Things I never did usually, small irrelevant helpful or entertaining things that didn’t turn into a beat-myself-up match. What this did was again to give me a ‘pause’ from the painful self-scrutiny and self-absorption, that inward monitoring that never seemed to let up.

    When we play, we enter a state of flow, of connecting with pleasurable senses and relaxation. We put attention into activities and interests that have nothing to do with us and aren’t sources of gratification or performance anxiety. This in turn reminds us that there’s a huge wide world out there waiting to be explored and enjoyed. It’s not all about us — and that is a big relief!

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  4. Love reading this & all the ideas for better living & protecting our sober selfs – joyfully, not dragging ourselves. I’m having a think, but know the healthy eating & dwelling on the health benefits or not drinking please me a lot, so are a big factor in the FOREVER state. My garden, when I get to tend & enjoy it does wonders for my state of mind.
    I do really want to slow down enough to absorb the wonderful things around me – home, children, friends, family. I feel like an underachieving slob, but they see me as an ultra busy high achiever (apart from housework.)
    Thanks for this very thoughtful & thought provoking blog Lotta.

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  5. I also am a huge Tara Brach fan and often listen to podcasts at the gym, thus killing 2 self-care birds with one stone! I also am finding my gratitude journaling practice to make a huge difference in my mood and outlook. Every day (missing one occasionally), if I write about nothing else in my journal, I write 3 things I’m grateful for and 3 prayers. I try to keep the prayers focused on having the strength to be how I want to be in the world rather than things I want.

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    1. Love Tara – while I walk, sometimes the same ones over & over. I like your prayer idea, that is what I need as there have certainly been no answers to a decade of pretty awful things happening – I am really over the refining fire idea!!! Oh, you have soberfire …. ??? refining??

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  6. I love the 5 sober treats idea. I love fresh flowers to. It is my birthday (belly button one) I think I might treat myself to a bunch of fresh flowers. My favorite series at the moment is Offspring.

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  7. I know what you mean @MrsD. I try to buy magazines with good writing and decent articles like Mindfood or O magazine. But sometimes all I want is to flick through some fashion /makeup mags when my brain is tired :)

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  8. Gratitude! I find it’s so easy to get focussed on the things that I’m ‘missing’ that I can forget all the things that I have to be grateful for, and particularly all the gifts of being sober. I’m trying to spend some time every day thinking about all the good things about being sober so that I’ve got a strong reserve of arguments when my brain goes into ‘poor little me’ mode.

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  9. I just bought myself chanel’s little black jacket by Karl lagerfeld. It’s absolutely Hugh & I got it from amazon. It would have cost at least £70-80 if I’d bought it in selfridges. It will probably take me weeks to go through it but it will take pride of place with all my many wonderful books, knitting books that I have and treasure forever. I have what I call “coffee table” books and I love them, mainly fashion, fashion icons, people & lifestyle interest.

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  10. I think of getting sober as becoming the best version of me. I try to see it as a gift that I give myself. Because really, we are taking care of ourselves in a really important way, and in a way that a lot of people around us do not, so sometime, I feel like I have a secret awesomeness in my head that makes me unique.

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  11. 1. Keeping my thinking healthy. I have a part of me, my default part during my drinking, that pulls me back wards to the negative view of me, the world, my place in it etc. etc. and starts the blaming, the comparing etc. etc. So… keep positive. Note the negative stuff – expose it with friends, family etc. to get it out. Normally when I expose it the power of it is burnt away by the sunlight of exposure.

    2. Music. My “healthy” obsession. Playing music, playing with guitars, building guitars etc. All keeps me busy and enjoying myself in a healthy way. Listening to music too and finding new music that makes me go “oh” is another good thing for me to spend time to do.

    3. Reading – novels are a better escapism thank drunken fantasy building. I always have a book I’m reading and several ready to open on my Kindle.

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  12. I mostly try to keep myself distracted and a large part of that is done by listening to music. I love music – all kinds of music, and I’m never going to stop listening to it but now I want to start moderating my listening time. I’m the sort of person who’s constantly walking around with my headphones in whether I’m shopping or cooking or whatever. It’s almost like I’m scared of being left alone with my own thoughts. So now I want to start toning down (slightly) my listening time and connect more with the immediate sounds and world around me. Another reason I have to do this is because I have tinnitus and I’m really starting to feel that my hearing is getting damaged from over exposure to loud music…. I can’t help it though, I like it loud!!!!!!!

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    1. same! louder the better @behind-the-sofa. Although I do enjoy the quiet when I can get it. Just now I was walking away from school and the cicadas were going crazy and I really started listening to them, slowing my step as it walked. It was nice. I felt calm. xx

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  13. Everyday I give myself a day of sobriety. That is my first and foremost desire for each day and it’s effing fantastic. I’m learning to allow myself to have feelings, whether they be happy or sad, and to deal with my emotions in a mindful way from day to day. I am learning to acknowledge my feelings and accept them without drowning them in alcohol. I’m learning to love myself and appreciate the wonderful person I am. All of this is available to me because I live my life alcohol free.

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  14. Great tips here! I enjoy the idea of giving yourself little treats – fresh flowers especially. That’s a wonderful way to keep positive and have a colorful something to come home to. I like to do my nails to do something similar – a little pampering. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Nails is a great idea @jordan.. often I’m sitting on the sofa at night thinking ‘I should really do my nails’ but I never do. But on Saturday night I DID for the first time in ages!!! And polished them with a nail polish I got for Christmas and hadn’t used yet!! (we’re at the end of Feb.. shows how seldom I do my nails!!).. but now I’m getting such a kick out of their sparkling (the nail polish is a little bit glittery)..xxx

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  15. I have this cute little vase that just fits 3-5 flowers in it and I sit it on the window ledge of my bathroom. I always have fresh cut flowers in it. When we’re in the bathroom it’s a lil moment of no one else being around, I appreciate the beauty of those flowers and it reminds me no matter how hard this sober life is trying to face it without drowning everything in booze, that there is basic peaceful beauty in those flowers just sitting and giving out peace.
    It’s such a small thing but it strengthens me and reminds me that this is a gift of being sober – I never want to trash my gift.

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  16. Thank you Mrs D and to you all. I hit the mud yesterday and could see the beautiful island but it was like walking through treacle to get there but I did it. As a child raised in Africa my aunt used to send me The Famous Five books and for those of you who know the 5 I made it to Kirin Island. The money I save from not drinking alcohol is going towards finding the actual spot in ??? Dorset England.
    I also like WTF. ( sorry )
    Thank you again, new day clean slate.

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    1. yes @chatnoir new day new clean slate. When the mud is that thick and sludgy sometimes just going to bed and calling the day done is the best idea (with maybe a little sweet treat before bed!). And KNOW in your mind that the longer you go not drinking the easier it gets. Big hugs xxx

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  17. Thanks for the glimpse into your daily life Mrs D. It’s good to know it’s the simple things that really make a difference to your sobriety. I will add a few things to your list of sober treats: having a stash of new magazines next to my bed, buying new high thread count sheets, new pyjamas (there’s clearly a sleeping theme to my treats!), getting on this site and of course, fresh flowers :)

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    1. HHHHmmmmm @momentsofgrace I hear you on the magazines but I keep finding I buy them and flick through once quickly and that’s it! Was thinking they might be a waste of money. Maybe I just haven’t found the right magazine. New sheets! Now there’s an idea……………… xx

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