Coping Strategy Enhancement

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? 🙂

8 thoughts on “Coping Strategy Enhancement

  1. This is interesting – I think it’s something I really need to work on. Drinking was my one and only coping strategy though I didn’t realise it at the time. It kind of caught me by surprise how rocky I would feel emotionally when I quit, though now the reason is clear. (Honestly, sometimes I wonder if I ever thought about anything at all ever while I was drinking.) Also, your point about withdrawing as a prelude to a relapse fired up big red alarm bells in my head. Yep – that’s me too. I withdraw emotionally inside myself within the family home and physically or practically, in terms of cutting myself off from other people, not talking, not going out etc. Hmmm. Things that I have started to do but that need a lot more work to become habits are: self-care, going easier on myself inside my head (trying to tone down all that critical inner voice shit), keeping a gratitude journal, exercise. Thanks for this series of posts on relapse – good stuff. Forewarned is forearmed!

    1. I think we are all guilty of this MTM. It becomes our ‘go to’ salve and we don’t consider anything else. We all have to learn to deal with life again and I’m glad you’re finding them helpful 🙂

  2. I have started going to pilates once a week and have also got into watching box sets. Unfortunately my only real coping strategy was to drink and when there is real trouble I still fear I will turn to it. It is so hard to find something else that works in quite the same way. I guess the alcohol gives you a holiday from your head. I think that is why it is so important to communicate with the people you care about and avoid people/situations that will put you under pressure xxx

    1. Hi Kim If you’re looking for a holiday from your head have you tried meditation? Yes it takes a bit of practice but the mindful stuff is really helpful and I will be doing some posts in the upcoming months about mindfulness and meditation. Starting with a chocolate meditation 🙂 xx

  3. Thanks for this. I am using exercise ( especially cycling and walking), and gardening to help me out when I can feel myself getting bogged down. Mindfulness and meditation are things I keep reading about on sober blogs so I really need to make a bit of an effort to find out more about both.

    1. Hi CycleSal Thanks for reading and commenting. Will be writing about mindfulness and meditation myself in the near future so let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll try and make sure I cover it 🙂

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