There are these little life events that were repeated over and over, over the years, where familiar images and sensations were branded into our brains and bodies that have the potential to cause discomfort if not dealt with consciously and firmly. Over the first weeks of not drinking, I found a few ways to help soften any kind of irritation or discomfort brought about by breaking those old useless habits. And last night, when I went out to a nice restaurant and didn’t drink ethanol for the first time in around 40 years. I found my own way to give a nod to my sensibilities while still sticking to my resolve.
Here are a few strategies I have found really helpful.
At cocktail time at home I make myself a switchflipper (mocktail) that is not sweet and has a good bite to it. I notice that I crack the ice and refill it the same way I did with gin. I enjoy the process; I like drinking while schmoozing and making dinner the same way I always did, only now without the ethanol. So, with switchflipper in hand, I don’t feel bereft like I’m missing something or have “given up” anything. Ha ha, I just invented a new mocktail called The Placebo. In a nice rocks glass, pour over ice 4 parts soda, 1 part lemon juice. Add a dash of orange bitters and cayenne pepper. Garnish with lemon wedge.
At the restaurant, I asked for soda on the rocks with a splash of bitters and a lime. The waitress brought the soda in one of those big tall ugly glasses, and next round I asked for a rocks glass. For me, just holding the right kind of glass does the trick. I’ll bet former wine drinkers would benefit by putting their NA drink in a wine glass during such occasions.
I have found St John’s Wort tea is a great beverage to take the edge off if I’m feeling a little edgy especially after a busy day. If you want to remove the edge off the late afternoon/early evening changeover, it’s good to have some St. John’s Wort around 3 or 4:00. You can get it in capsules, too.
I also have a snack around then. I have a Coconut Almond Kind Bar and some Dr. Schulze’s SuperFood with my St J’s tea. Doing this makes it so you don’t experience that low that you would have previously used ethanol to deal with.
And it goes without saying that staying hydrated really helps a lot.
Taking 20 minute silent meditation daily is really good. During the first few weeks I had to force myself to sit down for those minutes. Now I look forward to it; usually squeeze one in in the middle of the day. (I’d done a lot of meditating in the past, but it was always with some kind of an agenda, now I simply get quiet.) Lately, if it works out, I sneak upstairs and grab those 20 minutes around cocktail time, and it’s amazing how good I feel. It’s relaxing and energizing. I have this Better Back thing that is like being held while sitting. The 20 minutes fly by, and my very active mind is able to get really quiet now. Here’s a good video called The No Bullshit Guide to Meditation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wirV265ZYSw
I have been making my diet more alkaline, eating more greens and such, making smoothies with carrots, beets, kale, spinach, ginger, apples, stuff like that. It feels good to be healthy.
EFT, tapping can help dealing with that little monster. Here’s a link or just google EFT or tapping for addiction and find one that you like. I know when I was doing it, I’d tap saying stuff like, “Even though I have this desire to drink, I love and accept myself completely.” It helped in those first few days and weeks.
Fresh air, sunshine and exercise go a long way in the feel good department. I always got out and ran or rowed even when totally debauched and hungover, but now it’s even better, and my joy factor is greatly enhanced.
If you notice a sneaky little urge or feel the remnants of the old habit trying to push its way into action, it’s really important to review the salient parts of whatever book or books you read. In fact, you can do preemptive review every few days, and nip any of that kind of thing in the bud. I read the last bit of Allen Carr’s Stop Drinking Now – quick and dirty reminders. Yeah! I’m a non-drinker!
Resistance does not work. I have learned that when a thought or urge arises, it is counterproductive to try to push it away or resist it. Allow it to be just as it is, and it passes just like any other thought. That saying, “What you resist persists” is true. Resistance makes it stickier. The harder you try to not think of something, the stronger the thought becomes. The firmer and clearer you are in your resolve in the first place, the less power any of those thoughts have at the getgo.
Forum communities such asThis Naked Mind and Hello Sunday Morning are good too. Keeps you in touch with like-minded peeps and adds a bit of accountability to your resolve.
Here’s to ethanol-free happy holidays. Yipee, I’m free! (Just saying those words does wonders.)