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8 Ways to Stay Sober in the New Year

8 Ways to Stay Sober in the New Year

Making the decision to stay sober is a brave and life-changing choice. It is also a challenge. But by taking the right steps to avoid alcohol in the New Year, you can win the battle and lead a healthier life.

You’ve made the decision. Now you need a plan. A plan to avoid relapsing. According to an article by Warren Thompson, MD, FACP, more than 80 percent of patients who choose to stop drinking wind up relapsing within the first year. You don’t have to be part of this statistic. Use these eight tips to help you create a bigger and brighter future.

1. Surround Yourself with a Strong Group of Sober Friends

If you continue to socialize with your former drinking buddies, you’re more likely to relapse. Few peers may understand your desire to become sober. They might say things like “Oh, come on. It’s Friday. One drink can’t hurt.”

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But you know that one drink will lead to two drinks, which will likely lead to doing a few shots. The next thing you know, you’ll be back at square one—you won’t remember weekends and thanks to the need to satisfy your constant craving, weeks will blur by, even blend together. You’ll be frustrated by your inability to master the addiction. It’s important to remember that consuming alcohol doesn’t make you the life of the party.

Surrounding yourself with people who don’t drink can have an enormously positive impact on your decision to stay sober. You can still go out and have a good time, even without alcohol in the equation. Get a group of friends together to spend an evening at the local bowling alley, go see the biggest box office hit, spend a day at the mall. Surrounding yourself with people who won’t pressure or influence you to drink is one of the most powerful steps you can take on your journey to recovery.

2. Spend Time with Family Members Who Support You

One of the strongest support groups anyone who is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction can have is their family. Of course, you may have family members who aren’t committed to staying on the same path, which can cause you to stumble a bit yourself. For some, alcoholism may run in the family. Be careful and spread your time wisely; you shouldn’t spend much of it with those who exhibit poor drinking habits. It’s best to spend time with those in your family who are committed to alcohol-free lifestyles, who support your life-altering decision, in order to ensure you avoid relapsing.

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3. Find a New Hobby or Creative Outlet

One of the first things you’ll realize when you stop drinking is how much time and money you wasted drinking in the past. It’s time to find new activities to fill that time void. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try creative writing. Why not give it a shot? It’s significantly less costly—all you need is a computer or paper and a writing utensil. Or maybe try computer gaming, a great stress reliever. The activity doesn’t have to be anything that will change the world, but it does need to fill up that extra time with something you enjoy, or you could find yourself wandering back out to bars to alleviate your boredom.

4. Spend Less Time with Individuals Not Living the Sober Lifestyle

It’s not always realistic to cut yourself off completely from every peer who drinks. Your best friend may have a beer or two every weekend, and you know how much you enjoy each other’s company when you’ve got nowhere else to be and the work week has come to a close. Sitting by his side and unwinding after a hectic past five days, cursing every driver who cut you off, has become a weekend tradition. But now you have trouble focusing on anything other than the beer he’s sipping while you go off about the new guy at work. It’s time to cut back on that time and toss in some time with other friends or the hobby you’ve taken up.

5. Spend Time Away from Bars, Restaurants and Other Destinations that may Trigger Memories

Not all memories from your non-sober life are bad. In fact, you probably had many great times with girlfriends and peers in bars, restaurants, and other places where you drank. However, you must remember that the health benefits, saved money, new respect, and safer lifestyle far outweigh the positive memories these locations will invoke. Returning to your old “watering holes” will probably leave you with your guard down and susceptible to drinking again.

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6. Let Go of All Feelings of Doubt about Your Sobriety

The actress Sigourney Weaver once said, “I feel self-doubt whether I’m doing something hard or easy.” It’s true that we all unjustly doubt ourselves almost all the time and often for no good reason. When it comes to becoming sober, however, doubting your ability to overcome the challenge is nothing short of debilitating. Of course you can do it. You just need to commit to the change, have a plan in place, and then stick to the plan.

7. Spend Time Exercising in Order to Take Care of Your Physical Health

Now that you have decided to live a healthier life by becoming sober, be sure to also start exercising. The first month will be difficult, but once you get into a normal health routine you’re bound to feel better, be more positive, and improve your overall self-image. People will notice that you are taking care of yourself and comment on the positive change, which will also help you stay focused on improving your overall health by staying sober.

8. Keep a Journal to Document Your Journey into Sobriety to Serve as an Outlet

During your transition to sobriety, you’ll be forced to face emotions you most likely spent years trying to suppress by drowning in the bottle. Keeping a journal is an excellent way to document your transition, tracking the progress and struggles you experience during this major life change. Maintaining regular journal entries can also help you better communicate with a counselor who can help you along the road to recovery. It’s also an effective way of alleviating stress and worry.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol addiction, contact High Focus Centers today for more information on how to overcome the battle against alcoholism. Call 1-800-877-3628 or visit our website today to find out how we can help pave a better future for your tomorrow.

Featured photo credit: Photo by: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Dan Gellman

Director of Marketing for High Focus Centers

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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