The world is a messy place, and everyone has their demons. Some people turn to exercise or work to focus on to get them through the day, while others channel their frustrations or misgivings into art and music. Unfortunately, some people have an extremely difficult time dealing with their problems and resort to using drugs of all sorts to self medicate their pain away. It is far from the ideal solution, but is still a reality that needs to be faced head-on.
In this article, we’d like to discuss different tips for staying clean and sober in a world that can be frantic and complicated. Not only with politics, current events, and work, but the drama of our day to day lives. Despite everyone wanting a happy ending from their own marriage or relationships, family mediation still exists as an industry, and divorce is on the table for a good chunk of marriages. Yet with good coping strategies, you can sail through life as a resilient person in many ways.
Today, we’d like to talk about some strategies and mindsets that can help you bounce back as a person when the going gets tough. From the physical to the mental, it should all be on the table and in your toolbox. Things like exercise are proven to work in reducing depression, anxiety, and clearing your head. In fact, engaging in just 10 minutes of physical activity every day can help you improve mobility and live longer. Other mental habits such as mindfulness and meditation can do even more. The trick is finding out what works for you, and staying clean and sober instead of rushing to chemical fixes.
If It’s Going to Happen, It’s Better to Deal With it Head On
Many times, bad things happen in life that are essentially unpredictable. What started out as a loving and wonderful marriage can turn sour (even with the work put in) and a divorce lawyer will suddenly be on your speed dial list. These events to many people are traumatic, and it shouldn’t be surprising that during these times of intense stress that you are challenged on staying clean and sober by life itself. But it need not be, and if you remember a few simple pieces of advice you can keep it that way.
The first piece of advice, which is universal, is to consult the experts for these intensely personal situations. Just like seeking legal advice for your divorce or family matters, you should consult a therapist or counselor when you’re in a bad mental place. Not only have they heard many of these situations before and successfully dealt with them, but they will be able to give you a foundation from which to build for future stressors. They will even be able to give you recommendations on other professionals to seek out, or other resources you may have not been aware of.
The second, and perhaps more important piece of advice to think about, is that sometimes splitting up or ending problems doesn’t have to the end all be all. People can work through issues in a variety of ways, and so perhaps divorce isn’t the best solution for your family. It may be a temporary situation in which it’s better to get mediation or couples counseling than anything else. This relates to staying clean and sober in many ways, because sometimes you may get so bad that you are sprung into a family intervention that surprises you. But it’s better than going to jail, and you should deal with it head-on.
Hobbies, Hobbies, Hobbies
Staying clean and sober is about occupying your time with healthy habits instead of the destructive ones that bring you down. For many people, this may mean taking up new hobbies (or discovering old ones) with a gusto that they haven’t remembered since they were a child. But the difference between being a child and an adult is that you typically have more time and money to pursue your interests as an adult. This may allow you to travel, collect things, gain new skills, or pursue any new avenue that catches your eye.
Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what hobbies you’re into as an adult, and you don’t even know where to begin. One exercise that some addicts find helpful is to “monetize” their addictions and figure out what that money could best be spent toward. That is, if you calculate the money that you would have to spend on your addiction and put it towards something else, you may find that you can do lots of things that were seemingly impossible such as start a fine art collection. It depends on the extent of your addiction, but people find a way.
Learning a new skill, gaining an education, or simply traveling can all be fantastic ways to get away from your former habits. The education you pursue may even be relevant to your past experiences, such as delving into criminal law with the knowledge that only an addict could have of life in the underworld. Or finally being able to study the classics of literature, now that your mind is clear and free from racing thoughts and the need to be stimulated chemically. Whether it is woodworking, talking daily walks, or finally going to law school, anything that keeps you staying clean and sober is better than being a slave to your bad habits.
Exercise is a Great Alternative “High”
Drugs are certainly a way to stimulate your body and “feel” something, but they almost always end in bad results. From getting drugs that are cut with bad quality ingredients to simply drinking far too much alcohol and all the side effects that come with both, it can wreak havoc on your body. Once you’re on the path to staying clean and sober, you might wonder how you can get some of this strength back without having to beat yourself up. Luckily, it’s not that difficult to do if you put your mind to it.
Exercise is a great alternative “high” that is enjoyed by many fitness people around the world. From running to weight lifting and everything in between, the endorphins and blood that flow after a good workout have been proven to reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and get rid of temporary anxiety. In fact, many people that were once on clinical aids for various conditions (high cholesterol, anxiety, insomnia) report that they no longer need these medications after getting into a good exercise routine. Your results may vary, but it is certainly worth pursuing.
If you’ve never exercised before and the gym scares you, then don’t be afraid to join a gym and hire a personal trainer. A trainer will be able to show you how to properly complete each exercise, use workout machines, and try to recommend that diet to achieve your optimal results. When you think about all the money you’ve spent on drugs or alcohol, this should be considered a very worthwhile experience where price is not an issue. But if it is, you may be able to find programs or charities that would love to sponsor your recovery from drug addict to fitness enthusiast.
A Change of Place Can be Good for You
Staying clean and sober is a challenge for many reasons: there are emotional triggers, physical habits, and mental traumas to deal with. One of the psychological triggers that often throws people for a loop is “sense of place.” That is, when people have grown up in one area (or one house, neighborhood, etc) where all their experiences have taken place, it can be hard to escape them. Sometimes, even if a piece of property is near and dear to your heart, the best move can be selling a property that won’t allow you to escape your past or your demons. A change of place, even to somewhere an hour away or more, can be very good for you starting over.
But we also understand that moving and changing where you live can be scary. It is a journey into the unknown and that has no sure consequences. Rest assured that you don’t have to drop everything just yet, and that you can always “try out” living someplace else by renting a short term apartment and seeing what another area is like before you commit to it. Similar to leasing a car, this allows you the option of moving back to where you are and finding another plan of action that may be more suitable for you.
Many addicts are sad to leave the place that they’re from because it feels like they’re abandoning their family and friends along with it. These feelings are completely understandable, but one must also understand that sometimes leaving one place means spreading your wings to become the best person you can be. While it’s difficult to part with the familiar, in this case, the unknown may be many times better than the known. To move away from addiction, sadness, and despair into the freedom of a new life with a burden off your back.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
For many people, their friends influence their lives in a myriad of ways. From influencing their hobbies to setting them up with dates, our friends are “the family we choose” to most people. They can get you to do things that you don’t want to do with ease to bring you up or steer you toward forms of pain management that are less than optimal. This can be especially important if you come from a family that was abusive or didn’t accept you, so your friends really do become your surrogate family.
This is all well and good if they’re healthy and responsible people that are trying to push you onward and upward, but for far too many people they are a roadblock in staying clean and sober. This is understandable, as many of your friends have their own problems to deal with internally, and it’s probably not something you need to consult a lawyer about. Unless of course, it gets bad enough that you need to have a restraining order from your friends. Then, unfortunately, you may have to cut all ties.
When you’re trying to be on the path of staying clean and sober, you may have to take a deep look at your relationships and figure out which ones are hurting you vs. helping you. This can mean looking at someone whom you’ve known your whole life and saying “I love you, but you’re hurting me.” If the sentiment is true, and you start to finally notice that their presence around you is solely based on substance abuse, this can be an extremely hard road to face. Just know that you don’t have to go it alone and that there are therapists, counselors, and more professionals who will help you with whatever you need along the way.
Whatever Works (Accept Yourself)
When one is on the path of staying clean and sober, the road can look messy and meandering to the outside observer. Some people, after hitting rock bottom and losing everything, turn to religion or alternative lifestyles that help them greatly. While other people may scoff and say that you’ve “just replaced one addiction with another,” this is not for them to judge. Only you are the judge of what works best for you and your recovery, and you may want to adopt the motto: “whatever works” to shrug off the naysayers.
Whether this means embracing a daily form of exercise and an improved diet or visiting a church every day is up to you. There truly is no “right way” to keep on staying clean and sober, as long as you don’t violate laws or hurt people. It’s important to remember that many individuals go their entire lives with addictions that are undiagnosed and feel trapped by them. To see you (or anyone else) breaking free from your chains could be extremely triggering or even traumatizing to them. Keep this in mind whenever you experience push back or skeptics.
However, it is probably more likely that you will experience a radiance of positivity from people that want to see you improve and live your best life. That is, once they see the bounce and spring in your step from staying clean and sober, they won’t ever want you to go back. It will be like greeting the real you all over again, but perhaps a wiser and more improved version with more information. If you can, try and use this information to keep yourself sane, happy, and help others with the same affliction. One can only hope for such a miraculous gift when coming out of the other side of these problems.