If you are worried that at this time of social distancing and isolation you will be drinking more than you’d like to and that your drinking might spiral out of control; if you are in your early stages of sobriety and/or you are feeling a bit wobbly in your resolutions, this post is for you. It’s my small way to help you through this difficult time and I hope you will find it useful.
We are all experiencing an information overload of doom and gloom at the moment due to the Covid-19 outbreak. More of you will be advised and obliged to spend more time isolating at home away from your family and friends, your usual ways of socialisation will have to be modified or suspended for the foreseeable future and some of you might start to feel a bit disconnected from your own reality. Life as we know it has already started to feel and look a bit surreal.
We all know that all these measures are being taken to keep people safe and at the same time we can’t help but feeling a bit helpless, out of control and lonely.
Alcohol is bad for your health, but that’s old news nowadays. And one of the worst things is bad for is your immune system, a pretty essential tool at a time when we might need our body as healthy and strong as possible to fight a virus. But this is not the subject of my post. More specific information is at the end of a Google search. My aim is to lift our vibrations a little bit and offer you an upbeat perspective by giving you some tips and suggestions on how to make up your own Sobriety Toolkit. And have some fun with it!
What is a Sobriety Toolkit and why is it important?
A Sobriety Toolkit is an metaphorical emergency box that we can create ourselves and that contains all the tools that can come to our aid if or when we find ourselves in a bit of a pickle, so it’s a happy-face- emoji weapon, not a hands-to-my-head chore.
My husband’s grandfather had an old red toolbox dusted with rust and filled with all manner of well-worn tools; some of them you would have no idea what they were for but each one had been picked carefully for its task. Similarly, all the tools that we collect in the box will have specific uses and address different and personal needs.
Having a toolkit at hand can be a lifesaver when we foresee possible complications that might sway us from our good intentions. Thinking ahead by imagining what bumps on the road we might encounter and predicting how we will react to certain situations are essential considerations when we approach our Sobriety Toolkit.
As you plan ahead when you organise a trip, for example by thinking what you might be needing, by doing some research beforehand to check out the places you want to visit, by printing out or buying a map of the town, by packing some medicines, by bringing a book for the downtime or downloading a podcast to listen to while you travel, in the same way you can pack your tool box by planning activities or preparing things that will help you to deal with difficult times. When you know that some familiar negative feelings are very likely to come over you like a wave, having some water wings ready to keep you afloat until the sea settles down again is a reassuring thought.
Sure, you can go for a trip packing just the essential and leaving the rest to chance if you are up for an adrenaline-fuelled adventure, but that’s definitely not a wise choice when you are already feeling anxious and worried about what you might come across with on your journey.
Steps to make your Sobriety Toolkit
Step 1. Set up your Intention
If you have decided to make this toolkit is because you want to keep yourself healthy and alcohol-free or moderate your drinking intake during this time of isolation. Make sure you have it clear in your head why you have decided to do so and write down everything you will gain from it. The list might look something like this:
- I will become stronger in my recovery
- If I manage to get through this time sober, going back to normality will be much easier
- I will be able to be more present for my kids
- I will be able to meet my work deadlines
- I will be able to be more patient
- I will be able to eat more healthily
Step 2. Triggers and Cravings
Think about feelings, thoughts and situations that are likely to trigger you into drinking, i.e. being angry as a result of talking to a certain someone, feeling bored, being disappointed for an expectation not being met, frustration for an issue that has come up working remotely, feeling sad because other people seem to be coping better than you are, loneliness, etc. Situations, feelings and thoughts that trigger us are individual and they differ from person to person. You are the one who knows yourself better than anybody else out there, you will know what it’s likely to trigger you. If not, think about what triggered you yesterday, or the past week, or the past two months. It is very likely that similar situations or people will have the same effect on you again.
If you experience cravings, remind yourself that they are only temporary and they will become weaker and weaker as time goes by. They might not even be as frequent or intense as you’d imagine. If you still have them, take them into consideration when you build up your Sobriety Toolkit. One great tool to overcome cravings is to do some EFT/Tapping. You will be able to find many YouTube videos on that and if you need some help, please get in contact with me and I’d be happy to support you.
You can ask yourself some questions which might help you in reflecting on how you will address your needs:
- What can I do to keep myself entertained when I feel bored?
- What can I do when cravings seem to be untenable?
- What can I do that would help when I feel lonely?
- What can I do to release my anger?
- What’s the funniest way to let go of my frustration?
- What can I put in place when I need some time on my own and my family is at home with me?
- How can I make sure that I keep myself calm and productive when I’m working from home?
- How can I make sure I have some fun every day?
Step 3. The Fun Part
This is the creative part, the part where you can sit down and think about all the tools that you want to put into your kit, everything you can have access to and enjoy doing that will help you deal with all the emotions that bring you down and are unhelpful for you right now. To be honest, we live in the best time to be in isolation. The resources that are on offer on the net, are truly unlimited. At no other time you could have been able to join a virtual choir on YouTube! Isn’t that amazing? I found a video that provides you with 30 minutes of hands-free Twister spinning! That’s not a joke. There are so many things you can do every day that you can use to occupy your mind and have fun with at the same time. Anything you ever wanted to try and do and never had the time to follow through? This might be the time to accomplish that.
There is one golden rule though. At the beginning I mentioned that in a toolbox, every tool has a specific use. You would not use a spanner to paint a wall. Similarly, if you are bored, you wouldn’t be doing house chores if the idea of decluttering or tidying up would not fill you up with sparkling joy. If you are bored, what would counteract that? What’s something that you love doing? For example, I usually declutter and tidy before midday, because it’s not an activity that I particularly enjoy and I’m a morning person, so I know that if I have to do something that I don’t like, I’d rather do it when I’m full of beans. I have started to do yoga classes on YouTube and usually I do them after lunch as they calm my mind and give me energy to do some more work in the afternoon. Know when your low points are and plan accordingly. Get in touch with yourself and your needs and you will know how to tackle them in a way that will enrich you and lift you up.
Step 4. Turn this limit into an opportunity
There are areas in life that we cannot control, but there are others we can. This situation bestows the best example of that. We have been given this time and it’s up to us to use it wisely. You can decide to drink copious amounts of alcohol to forget where you are and have the delusion of fun or use this moment for your benefit. Time is the most precious resource because once it’s gone, you can’t buy more of it. Use this time to stir your focus on your wellbeing to make this time as worthwhile as possible. In my work I have known people who have thrown themselves in so many different things that helped them in their sobriety, such as string art, mosaic, collages, 5D crystal craft, online courses (you can find many free courses online nowadays), learning to knit and crochet following online tutorials, and pole or boxing fitness (if you already have a pole or a punching bag lying around … some people do), learn a new language or play that guitar that has been sitting around gathering dust.
Keep safe. Remember your intentions and stay strong. If you need community support, join online sobriety online groups, they can be a life saver if you feel the need to reach out in a moment of crisis. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need help. You are not alone.
Artwork by Joe Hole