For Women: Eleven Things you can do Instead of Drinking (Alcohol, that is...)
Quitting drinking and pursuing sobriety is a personal decision. It may be for reasons of health, sanity, or self-preservation. Some people find it relatively easy to quit, others try to fail time and time again (keep trying...you can do it!). Either way, changing a habit requires replacing that habit with other activities. Many times, it is a certain time of day that is particularly difficult. Here are eleven suggestions to help relieve the dreaded daily itch.
1. Exercise. The key is creating a new habit. Why not make it a healthy one? When I first quit drinking, I ran vigorously to try and stop the cravings. Now, I take a walk with the dogs or just go out in the yard and play with them. Either way, it's a new evening activity that celebrates health, sobriety, and appreciation of life.
2. Drink something , just not alcohol. Club soda with lime in the summer, or hot tea in the winter. Sitting down with a drink to unwind is still sitting down with a drink to unwind. Stock your pantry with lots of choices and special cups and glasses. Spend some money on alternatives that you like, because it will still be cheaper than when you drank.
3. Pamper yourself. Celebrate the fact that you have given up something that accelerates aging, adds unnecessary calories, and messes with your complexion. Make an appointment for a treatment on Friday during the time you would usually go to happy hour, or do your own at-home spa ritual with candles and music. You are worth it!
4. Reach out. Take pleasure in communicating with family and friends in a new, sober way. Pick up the phone and make a call, send a picture message, an e-card, or take the time to send a nice handwritten note. When I quit drinking, I felt like I could quit hiding. I made it a point to reach out to one person in some way, every day.
5. Take on a new hobby. The time we spent drinking can actually be spent creating new passions that enrich our lives. The bewitching hour that tempts you can now be spent painting, writing, gardening, cooking, or making crafts! I have tried all of the above, some with more success than others. If you don't know where or how to start, look for classes in your area.
6. Be present. We tend to sell ourselves short, but the truth is that other people missed us when we were drinking and enjoy our sober company. Our families enjoy our time and attention, and those that we used to avoid because they did not drink like we did sometimes turn out to be great friends and supporters. We are also “here now” to support others.
7. Take a drive. As a drinker, I never left the house much after dark, unless it was to go to bars. Now, I love jumping in the car and cruising just because I can. There is actually a lot going on in my small town that I can enjoy without guilt and fear of being exposed as a lush. I feel like a much more active participant in my community.
8. Treat yourself. I say this with caution, but I did manage to distract myself from thoughts of drinking with shopping. Whether it is real live shopping or online shopping, rewarding yourself for a positive and life-changing decision is a motivator. The problem for me was that my tendency for excessive behavior soon proved to be true in this area as well.
9. Spend time in nature. This may overlap with exercise, or with creating a new hobby, but it is worth mentioning on it's own. Nature is such a powerful healer, rejuvenater, and positive way to deal with excess stress. My new obsession is collecting beach debris to make things out of. The time outdoors benefits you alone or the whole family.
10. Make more money. The time that you used to spend drinking may allow you to pick up a part time job or turn one of your new (or renewed) passions or hobbies into a money-making venture. The important thing is that now you have the time, energy, and focus to create additional income for yourself, and support some of the new goals that you may have.
11. Find a support community. This last one might be the most important. When thoughts of drinking arise, it is important to have a person or group of people who understand. For me, it was the online community of Women for Sobriety. With their support and encouragement, I was able to maintain sobriety and put into place numbers one through ten above. Simply logging on and venting or expressing discouragement is a great help. Then, the advice, support, and replies from women in the same situation is invaluable.
I hope that these suggestions help! Quitting alcohol was the best decision that I ever made in my life, and it may be yours, too. If you ever feel like you are missing out, just remember to change an old, unhelpful habit for a new, constructive habit that enriches your life!
A link to my personal sobriety story
Women for Sobriety
A great online community...
A hub I wrote on the Women for Sobriety Program
- The Thirteen Acceptance Statements of the New Life Acceptance Program
The “New Life” Acceptance Program was written by Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. It is the foundation for Women for Sobriety, a program dedicated to helping women overcome their struggles with alcohol, or other substances.