Twenty months seems like quite a substantial number, doesn't it? That's almost, like, two years...but I know better than to count sober days before they actually happen.
I thought I'd share 20 things that help me stay sober in the hope that it helps someone else who is navigating a life without alcohol, either on their way to their Day 1 or already counting days, weeks, months.
Here are my tried and true methods and tools I reach for when I'm trying to crush an urge to drink or push through an emotionally taxing day.
- Scalding hot showers. In my first year of sobriety, hot showers were my go-to makeshift baptismal font. I feel reborn after a shower. On my worst day, I would forget about the California drought and take up to three. Instant reset button and helped push down any cravings I had for a drink.
- Tea. Endless cups of herbal and black tea throughout the day.
- La Croix. I didn't love it at first, but it's grown on me over time. Any fizzy water will do though.
- Blank purse-size journal. I write in mine during my AA meetings to calm my nerves and anxieties about occupying a seat in those rooms and calling myself an Alcoholic.
- Sakura micron + gelly roll pens. I make marks daily and this brings me great joy and comfort.
- Gratitude Lists. I make a 10-30 item list every single day. It used to seem like an impossible task and one that I couldn't see the point in. But now? Now, it's the way I have to start my day or else it doesn't feel like it's started. Does that make sense? Powerful tool to right-size me and help me to get over any pity parties I am about to throw.
- Rescue Remedy products. Some of these products contain a small trace amount of alcohol in them. I'm okay with that and I use them to help quell anxiety when it flares up.
- Crystals + Stones. Friends have gifted me rose quartz (the crystal of unconditional love), amethyst (a healing and calming stone) and amazonite (stone of courage and truth). I carry these little talismans in my purse or in my pocket when I need a physical reminder of love, calm or courage. I turn them over in my coat pocket or in the palm of my hand during meetings.
- My One-Year AA chip. I like knowing I have this chip in my bag and sometimes put it in my pocket when I'm going into a tough social situation.
- Essential Oils. I don't really know a lot about essential oils, but I keep a citrus blend in my makeup bag and put a few drops in my palm + cup my hands over my nose and mouth when I'm feeling like I'm coming out of my skin. It immediately soothes me.
- iPhone. My phone has become a super important tool for helping to keep me sober by allowing me to text with other women in recovery all over the country. I am connected with at least one sober women every single day by either text, phone call, Instagram or Facebook. It has been a lifesaving tool in my recovery from alcohol.
- AA meetings. When I feel disconnected or can't calm my mind down, I go to a meeting. It's a really powerful way to get out of my head and hear other's stories. My ego gets quickly readjusted in those 55 minutes. I try to attend four meetings a week on average.
- HOME podcast. My friends Holly Glenn Whitaker and Laura McKowen host this podcast and I listen to it every week. They talk about living a sober life, anxiety, relationships and the ins-and-outs of sobriety.
- Hip Sobriety School. Holly Glenn Whitaker also writes a blog called Hip Sobriety. She runs an 8-week sobriety school that I had the opportunity to attend earlier this winter. When I've hit a wall in my sobriety, I pull out the notebook I made during that school and do one of her suggestions or write out one of her mantras and repeat it over and over again. It always redirects me. Holly is offering free one hour training tonight. Click here for more info.
- Service. Taking a call from someone in my 12-step program is service. Making coffee before a meeting is service. Booking plane tickets for my mom is service. Feeding the neighbor's cat is service. Service helps me get over my urge to drink or think about drinking. You don't have time to wallow in your own misery when you're being of service or helping others. It's a HUGE tool in my journey to sobriety.
- Writing. Keeping this blog up-to-date or writing in my personal journal is an incredible tool. It helps me to look back on my own words and reflect on the lesson of my experience. I'm almost compulsive about this practice and grateful for my own history to teach me about the person I am and how I can change my story by seeing my part in things.
- Sober Online Community. I'm part of an online support group made up of all women that has been like a 24-hour meeting. I can access it at any time, learn from others or be of service to someone who is suffering.
- The 12 Steps. Yep, working the 12 steps. I'm on Step 9 and it blows my mind how much work I've done and seeing how owning my part in things has changed my life. I used to fear the Steps, but now I honestly look forward to what they will reveal about myself, so that I can become a better, more whole person.
- Books. Reading books on recovery, as well as spiritual tomes, help ground me and remind me of the power of the human spirit. I will write a separate post on all of the books that have helped me in my own recovery.
- Meditation. I gotta be honest. I reach for this last. I'm new to meditation and it still frustrates and intimidates me. But when I take the time to do it, something shifts inside of me and I feel calm. I need to practice this more.
That's it. That's a lot.
What is the single best sobriety tool you reach for to help you manage your day? I'm always looking to add more into my daily repertoire.