I learned when training to run a marathon that the psychological preparation was as important, if not more so, than all of the training runs, drink and snack choices, warm up and down stuff put together. If you didn’t believe you could do it – it became so much more difficult on the final miles of the course or when you ‘hit the wall’.
These are some of the things that I did to psychologically prepare for stopping drinking:
Starting a daily gratitude practice. Fear stopped me from even considering a life without alcohol for too many years and was the fastest at driving me back to it in the past. Gratitude is the antidote to fear for me.
Developing other ways of relaxing that didn’t require picking up a drink, such as a long soak in the bath, a run or meditation
Now I don’t want to come across as some hippy-dippy Pollyanna type but believe me stopping drinking stirred up a sh*t ton of deeply buried negative and painful thoughts and emotions in me that I needed to learn to manage if I was every going to climb out of a bottle. Drinking had become my emotional anaesthetic and the only way to counter-balance the negativity that was triggered by stopping was to up the amount of positive stuff that I was exposing myself too, both in terms of what I read and how I thought. All of these things together made the journey from drinker to non-drinker easier for me.
If you’re on the journey already what would you recommend to someone to fortify their psychological defences?