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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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