Ten Keys to a Happy Sober You!

The Art of Self-Care

gifts of sobriety grey area drinker hangoverfree love sober love yourself sober mental health self-care Jan 31, 2022

As you begin your sober journey, it’s vital to focus on self-care. Life is a balancing act physically, mentally, and emotionally and we can easily become depleted and imbalanced. Our bodies and brains are always trying to redress that imbalance and alcohol can feel like a temporary fix.

Without this process of inquiry into our wellbeing and effective self-care practices we can easily become triggered and overwhelmed and be tempted to reach for a drink. Self-care is essential to a life you love sober, so we encourage you to look at your self-care level and keep it as a focus, adding to it as you go along.

Our understanding about self-care has evolved over the past couple of years – it used to mean treating yourself to the odd massage or a facial; now it’s about an overall approach to our wellness, and being alcohol-free is a huge part of that.

Self-care is very much a bespoke art. It’s about what you need. It’s how you regulate your nervous system and look after yourself, and that may be different for each one of us. It’s not an immediate quick fix, but an open and ongoing dialogue with yourself.

In a nutshell, self-care is an overarching approach to:
• makes you tick
• makes you feel good
• soothes you and keeps you well and balanced
• helps you stay healthy.
And how you... 
• manage your time
• self-soothe and wind down
• inspire yourself (we like to use the phrase, ‘light yourself up’ – sparking a flame inside and getting excited)
move your body.

Self-care is basically giving yourself what you need at any given time. Yes, that’s you – you, the one who spends her time looking after everyone else. For once, ask that mother (you) what is important to her. Ask her what she needs – she’s been waiting a long time.

Self-care starts with enquiry and having a conversation with yourself about what you need, rather than just shutting that little voice up with booze. In our experience this takes practice and time because, all too often, we have not been used to listening in. So, don’t panic. We are here to guide you through with baby steps. Also, sometimes things don’t need a massive overhaul, just an odd tweak, and these tiny tweaks can turn out to be absolutely pivotal.
When we look back to our drinking days, we are astounded at how little real dialogue we were actually having with ourselves, racing through each day, looking after everyone else, and then switching off with a few glasses of wine. It’s as if we were avoiding a friend who wanted to have an uncomfortable conversation with us.

For most of our adult lives, we thought alcohol was part of self- care and a completely normal way to cope with stress and being overwhelmed. We would spin plates, sprint through tasks, be unrealistic about what we could achieve in a given timeframe, and try to please everyone and do it perfectly. Then we’d collapse at the end of the day with a glass of wine, which always became more than one. Over time, this became a real habit, and it meant we were not actually managing our stress levels or sorting out the problems or challenges along the way. We’d wake up tired and jaded and have even less energy to tackle the day ahead.

How can you practise self-care?
In your journal, take a moment to write some notes about the areas of your own self-care that aren’t working as well as they need to be. What are your self-care gaps? Finding time to unwind? Not managing overwhelm? A lack of positivity because you have so much negative self-talk about not being good enough? Or is it your sleep that is getting neglected as you seek out some you time? How can you improve these areas? How can you build in healthy stress-busters? Ask yourself these questions:

• How do I feel in my mind, and how can I practise self- care today?
You could try, for example, journalling, mind-mapping , or writing lists. In her book The Artist’s Way,1 Julia Cameron suggests writing ‘Morning Pages’: this is stream- of-consciousness writing on two sides of A4, free hand. No reading or editing. You just get it down on the paper, then put it in a folder, and read it at the end of a week, or even a month, to see what has developed and notice any recurrent themes etc. You could also try mindfulness , meditation, reading a book, watching a documentary, listening to a TEDX talk.
• How do I feel in my body, and how can I practise self- care today?
How about, for example, doing yoga, resting, going for a run, eating good food, having a massage, snuggling under blankets, having some aromatherapy, a foot rub?
• How do I feel in my soul, and how can I practise self- care today?
Find a little time for a creative project, dance, lie down on the grass and cloud-watch, colour mandalas, read poetry, listen to music.

Making time for self-care
We women are so often trying to do it all and the bar is set impossibly high. Enlist your partner, grandparents, friends, family, or pay for some childcare, even just an hour, if you can possibly afford it. Put the wine budget towards a babysitter if necessary. This will give you a bit of time to process what you need – to go to a class, get out for a run or walk, or simply sleep, meditate, or rest. Having short breaks like this means you can come back refreshed and able to engage with and enjoy your kids at this precious time. It’s not a sprint after all, it’s a marathon!

Even if we are not mothers, we are often still in caring positions- maybe our parents are ageing or we are emotionally supporting partners or in a caring profession.  We need to ensure we apply routine self-care strategies in our lives, as well as getting skilled at heading off an emergency call from the Wine Witch when things get too much.

How self-care can help on your sober journey
In sobriety, especially in the early days, you will need to build some robust strategies around your self-care needs. In terms of emergency, or reactive, self-care, you need to learn how to:
• read your wine triggers
• recognise when you need to apply emergency strategies to
get you past wine o’clock, or deal with a trigger or a strong craving (see page 109).
In terms of routine, or pro-active, self-care, you need to identify which regular practices:
• help boost your overall wellbeing
• help keep your physical and emotional life in balance
• ensure you are as happy and prepared as you can be for
what life throws at you.
Some of the basics may include staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, getting some fresh air, noticing your mood.

Look after you , you are worth it. 

Love Kate & Mandy x 

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