7 Secrets for Sober Success
Taking back your health is the key to having your last day one.
you decide what comes next…
There is a lot of focus on methods to get sober. But we don’t talk a lot about how to stay here. With my whole heart and soul I believe the key to creating a life you love without alcohol is to take our health back. By building up our resolve and our self-esteem so we can feel so good inside and out, we take control of our life. And there is no place for toxic alcohol here.
You CAN Do This. And I’m Here to Help
Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around here.
Brené Brown from The Midlife Unraveling
Who Am I?
After 30 years, lots of tries, and more than one rock bottom, I finally did it. I created a life I love that doesn’t include alcohol. Enough was enough. I was wasting my precious life drinking, thinking about drinking and detoxing from drinking. Mortality motivation is a powerful tool.
But after I did the work of getting sober, I panicked. Not because I wanted to go back to the (anti) safety net of drinking-dom. I absolutely did not. But I was still on some shaky ground here.
I looked around after I climbed out of the ostrich hole that you put your head into while you’re doing the hard and holy work of breaking up with booze and literally said, “NOW WHAT? What do I do next? How to do stay here?”
There is a lot of information out there in the Sober-sphere on ways to get sober, but not a ton on how to stay this way.
How I got here
I am not a counselor or a coach or a sponsor or a unicorn. What I am is a success story, and maybe a mentor. I ended a very toxic thirty year relationship with alcohol through education (This Naked Mind), reframing my habits and mindset, and making the decision to pursue my Purposes. You can’t fulfill your life’s goals and drink heavily at the same time. You can have it all without alcohol.
My Best 7 Tips for Sober Success
“Okay, now with that out of the way, I’m super excited to share the top 7 secrets I discovered on
my OWN path to staying on a successful sober path.
Sober Success Secret #1: Walk
Walking is the end-all be-all cure-all. Yes, this thing you’ve been doing and taking for granted since you were about a year old is now being touted as the closest thing we have to a wonder drug. Physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be something you enjoy enough to do. Walking is easy, free, you can do it anywhere and the benefits are really quite incredible.
- 30 minutes a day reduces depression by a third.
- Helps maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Boost your energy
- Improve your mood, cognition, memory and sleep!
- Improve your balance and coordination
- Strengthens your immune system
- Reduces stress and tension
Just by walking you say? Yes. Just by walking. And you don’t have to be setting a timer or hitting a certain amount of steps. This is for your body and your soul. One foot in front of the other. Make this a non-negotiable for yourself no matter what else is happening in your day, get your walk in. Just do it.
R.E.A.L. Self-Care Tip: Start with 20 minutes a day. Walk outside. First thing in the morning if possible. Give it 30 days and see what changes.
Sober Success Secret #2: Get outside early
Bright warming sunshine isn’t just nature’s good morning fist bump, it also serves an important basic physiological need. It provides you with crucial vitamin D, and getting outside in the early morning sunlight controls your circadian rhythm, or day-night cycle, which is integral for good sleep. It seems weird to start working on sleep patterns when you start your day. But most of us have very disrupted sleep patterns from years of drinking, and getting enough quality sleep fixes so many things like mood, cravings and rational thinking.
Sunlight starts your production of cortisol, (decreases your melatonin) and increases serotonin. You want those two hormones in your corner to start the day.
We associate cortisol with stress and too much of it with weight gain, but it’s not a bad hormone. It gets you up and going and ready to face the day. It just needs to come from a healthy source rather than stress, which can be a negative one.
R.E.A.L. Self-Care Tip: First thing every morning: go outside without contacts, glasses or sunglasses (these filter out light). Look towards the sun, but off to the side so the sun hits your face. The longer the better. Enjoy with your morning decaf drink. (Lay off the caffeine for at least an hour to regulate cortisol.)
Bonus Points: Put your bare feet on the earth to get in some grounding.
Sober Success Secret #3: Replace Sugar
Ahhhhh sweet sugar. You knew this one was coming. My dear friends, sugar is just a quick-fix replacement for alcohol. It gives us the dopamine hit that drinking did. This is why there is so much candy, cake, cookies, etc. at AA meetings. But hear me on this, it is also an addictive substance. This is why it’s called a transfer drug. Sugar triggers the release of chemicals like dopamine that activate the brain’s pleasure center. It doesn’t take long to acquire a tolerance, meaning you need larger doses.
The effects of added sugar intake can lead to high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. And now it is clearly linked to dementia.
Replacement is the key here, not willpower. Telling someone they also need to remove all sugar, sweets, etc. after removing alcohol is like telling someone who quit smoking they can’t chew gum or use the patch. The urge for something sweet is real until you eliminate sugar long term, and that will come. But for now, here are a some delicious, healthier options:
Fruit, glorious fruit! Nature’s sugar is the number one choice. Go for organic berries in season, mango, papaya, bananas, melon, organic green apples and pineapple. Avoid fruits with lots of seeds like kiwi. And juice is a no no. It’s often full of added sugar without the fiber.
Chocolate. Yes, I said it. The key is to finding a good one. Choc Zero is one of the best chocolate options, but it does have soluble Non-GMO soluble corn fiber so don’t over do it. The Good Chocolate is also delicious, but organically sourced so it is more expensive.
Editor’s note: some health gurus may tout chocolate as a non-health food since it is made from beans. That can be a goal, but right now we are picking our battles wisely and carefully. Chocolate stays.
R.E.A.L. Self-Care Tip: Fruit is the real deal. After a few weeks of fruit as your sweet treat, you won’t want the refined processed ones.
Store berries and other fruits in wide mouth mason jars with a wet paper towel at the bottom. It keeps for a month!
Sober Success Secret #4: Quit Lit and Podcasts Forever
One of the most important tools in your Sober Toolbox is Quit Lit and Recovery Podcasts. Books, especially audiobooks if you are an on-the-go listener, along with sober podcasts that you can regularly lean into are the lifeblood for keeping you on track and making you feel like you are not alone in this.
Knowledge truly is power, so when you may have a craving or a trigger, listening to facts about how alcohol destroys your mental and physical health, and hearing stories from other women that resonate with yours will continue to light this path to freedom that you’ve chosen.
Favorite guide book: This Naked Mind. by Annie Grace.
Favorite sobriety story book: The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray.
Favorite Podcast(s): Tribe Sober, The Bubble Hour, To Fifty and Beyond, Hello Someday
R.E.A.L. Self-Care Tip: You can make this even more personal by joining online communities on Facebook (easiest) or membership based groups like Join Club Soda and Tribe Sober.
Sober Success Secret #5: Breathing and Meditation
It took me forever to start meditating. I resisted because I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Like, what do you DO to meditate? Sit quietly and and think try not to think? Pray? Sit criss-cross applesauce and say, “Ohm” over and over? I didn’t understand the point of it. Sitting and doing nothing on purpose for awhile was a nap, right? It was hopeless.
Until it wasn’t. When I realized I didn’t have to wing it and gave it a real go by using apps, my mindfulness sails caught wind.
There is a purpose to it and it works. When we meditate, we are doing a huge service for ourselves.
Meditation creates a sense of calm and balance that benefit both your emotional well-being and your physical health. It makes us slow down and re-center. When we go, go, go all the time we are putting ourselves in constant fight or flight mode. This throws your adrenals out of whack and sets you up for a crash.
Taking 5 to 10 minutes, or even more if you have it, creates a reset. The pinball in your brain stops bouncing everywhere and goes back to the calm position of still readiness.
It can also aid in coping with stress by refocusing your attention, plus meditation can help you learn to stay centered and on track when you are facing a trigger situation.
And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day.
There are meditations for all different times of day and scenarios that you can try using apps. Morning gratitude, quick breaks, before a meeting, unwind after work, release fear and anxiety, wind down for bed time. Commit to at least once a day for one week and see how you’re feeling.
R.E.A.L. Self-care Tip: Use an app to meditate. Try InsightTimer (free and paid versions), Simple Habit (free and paid versions) and Superhuman (paid.)
Try all kinds of different ones and “favorite” those you want to find quickly and use again, especially when you’re short on time.
Sober Success Secret #6: Get a Hobby
When we were actively drinking, that was our hobby. There isn’t time to do anything else when you are thinking about drinking, drinking, trying to stop drinking and recovering from drinking.
Hobbies are crucial to your recovery. Channeling your new found time and energy into doing something that you enjoy enables you to beat boredom, boost self-esteem and, of course, stay away from booze. Hobbies often start out as fun, fulfilling forms of self-care that take shape into something bigger. Having the time and mental ability to discover things that ignite you is often a gateway to your Bigger Yes-your purpose-the number one tool to creating a life you don’t want to escape from.
Here are some ideas to help you find a hobby you love:
R.E.A.L. Self-care Tip : You can learn how to do almost anything on YouTube. There are private Facebook groups for everything so once you find something you like, search the subject to find a group you can join to find tips and ask questions from others.
Sober Success Secret #7: Find your Purpose
Last but not least, the number one secret to sober success is finding your purpose. You may have heard this referred to as The Bigger Yes. It’s the thing that you love doing so much that you will protect your sobriety bubble at all costs because if alcohol gets back in, it will ruin it.
How are you supposed to find your purpose though? Well, the path to purpose is often found by way of a hobby. Hobbies serve many purposes aside from beating the early boredom and keeping us busy so we stay away from booze.
Although they start out as fun, fulfilling forms of self-care, they can be the gateway to something bigger. Having the time and mental ability to discover things that ignite you will very often lead you to your Bigger Yes, or your Purpose.
It’s easier than you think to change your life.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Take simple steps each day for lasting change you can start for yourself today.
Get my R.E.A.L. Self Care checklist to help redesign your life in just 10 minutes a day.