We all have ways of coping when things aren’t going well in our lives or when we feel stressed. For me one of those coping strategies was I used to drink. I used to do other things too like run, read, escape into a film or music, talk to friends and I still do all of those things now – except the drinking 🙂
I didn’t realise that drinking was an unhelpful coping strategy, in fact it had a habit of making the situation feel worse, but it was a habit that I had got used to and I had never tried to find a more helpful way of managing my stress.
So for me getting drunk in the short term was helpful because I was able to forget about the problem and it would allow me to feel relaxed and confident. But if I overdid it I would feel sick and dizzy, I would do things that would embarrass myself, I might feel more angry or depressed and that would lead to me getting what my friend would call ‘tired and emotional’ i.e. crying, or getting into fights. I would have a hangover and spend too much money that I could ill afford to spend.
And long term it became an over used coping strategy leading to dependence, it created minor health problems, I offended friends and family, fortunately I never got in trouble with the police (but more by luck than judgement) and it caused money troubles.
So what I needed to do was ‘beef up’ my non-drinking strategies to counter-balance the choice of not drinking!
So I developed new strategies, such as this here – my sober blog. I also connected with other sober people both real and virtual, I focused my attention on other activities that didn’t revolve around drinking, like the cinema, going for walks, meeting for tea not beers. You need to think creatively about how you spend your time and where you focus your energies and attention. You can look at each of your coping strategies and create a decision table to help you decide if what you are doing is positive and helpful or negative and unhelpful, both in the short term and long term.
When you are feeling negative about not drinking I found I had to work really hard at it, and at times it felt like a slog, but ‘faking it till you make it’ does work! Connect when you don’t really feel like it, reach out when you don’t want to. My wanting to withdraw was ALWAYS a sign of a relapse in the making.
What coping strategies have you used that I could benefit from? 🙂