Sober Resources

How to get through the first 7 sober days

I guess I should start with mentioning that I am writing this from the perspective and experience of a [heavy] social drinker, not a dependent drinker – not that I was a particularly functioning one as it transpired. When I began thinking seriously about making this rather epic lifestyle change I made sure to do some prep beforehand, because as we know, it’s all in the planning. I did wonder to myself whether it was a bit soon to be sharing tips on this subject, after all I myself only just embarked on my first seven days so recently? But no I decided, it’s not, because it is due to these next few bullet points that I managed to do it so easily this time around. It also turned out to be quite a long post so I’ve complied a quick fire list of suggestions initially which I’ve then developed a bit further if you read on.

So here is how I got myself through the first 7 sober days.

  1. Create a stable routine
  2. Get yourself a journal & be grateful
  3. Subscribe to a range of podcasts
  4. Embrace your inner book worm
  5. Join groups and communities
  6. Move your body
  7. Get enough day light
  8. Grow your sober circle
  9. Self love and being mindful
  10. Get a sober app
  11. Eat well
  12. Pick up that hobby

Easy right? Okay maybe not at first sight but if you break it down in steps it’s super manageable, and lo and behold – quite enjoyable!

  • Create a stable routine

Life can feel quite chaotic at times, especially if you live in a big city such as London. It always feels like we have so many balls to juggle, and to make it worse we introduce drinking into to the mix which only adds more fuel to the fire. I’ve always found the more I socialise under the influence, the more chaotic life feels. One of the most important things for me has been to get up at a similar time each day, especially on the weekends. This ensures that you make the most of the day and don’t get reminded of those day’s spend in bed hungover. No siree! I’ve also gone from being ‘yes man’ to ‘no man’. I’m learning how to say no to things and put myself first. The next few points will explain in more detail of the things I did to create some much needed day-to-day routine.

  • Get yourself a journal & be grateful

Or if you prefer you can create an online journal/ blog, whatever you find comes most naturally. I haven’t done any writing in years up until recently but it’s one of the most cathartic things I do in my life now. A good tip if you’ve never done much writing before or you struggle to get started is just to put the pen to paper and start writing about something that happened in your day, no matter how mundane it may seem. Then try moving onto writing down how you were feeling emotionally, or any thoughts you recall having. As well as this I also include a daily list of gratefulness. They could be small or big things, the importance is that you teach yourself to focus on being grateful and positive rather than noticing small annoyances or things that are ‘wrong’ in your life. I also try to think about and visualise this as I get up in the morning as it’s a great way to set you up with the right mindset for the day. Eventually you find that you have trouble keeping up with all of the words that you want to note down. Let’s just say that my handwriting differs greatly between say meeting notes and my journal. Make sure that you set aside some time for yourself each day to write in your journal. I find that I feel much better once I get my thoughts down on paper.

  • Subscribe to a range of podcasts

I have a few podcasts which I listen to, not only because I get through them so quickly but also because they cover varying topics. I like to listen to podcasts when I go for long walks, especially if I’m feeling a bit anxious and need realigning. I’m compiling a list of podcasts on my ‘Useful Stuff‘ page, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of whats available out there so please recommend any others you’ve found useful.

  • Embrace your inner book worm

Books are something else which I’ve sadly neglected in recent years, but found to be really helpful. As part of my routine I’ve been trying to reduce my screen time, especially in the evenings as I struggle a bit with my sleep so reading before bed seems to be helping. Right now I’ve got a few books on the go depending on what mood I’m in. I love a self help book of course, some related to sobriety, others physical and mental health, as well as a good bit of fiction. It was actually when I started reading again that made me want to get back into writing. Check out some on my list here.

  • Join groups and communities

As much as we talk about reducing screen time and the negative effects of social media, there are also a whole host of benefits. The first thing I did on day 1 of being AF was to join a couple of groups and communities. Not only is it a great source of resources, but also a place to bond with other likeminded people and share your stories. You can start at which ever point you are comfortable too. If you’d rather take a backseat and gain strength from reading other peoples stories you can. Or you can take part in online meet ups where you can talk openly about your thoughts and experiences. The best thing about it all is that some of the best communities are free! I don’t use Facebook much these days from a traditional standpoint, but I do enjoy being a member of some of the sobriety groups on there. As well as this I also subscribe to a couple of platforms such as Club Soda where you’ll find a whole host of support and events. I’d say I found 90% of these gems through podcasts, so it comes full circle.

  • Move your body

Our bodies are designed to spend most of the day on the move, not hunched over a desk or bundled up on the sofa like a bag of potatoes. So it’s not surprising that so many of us suffer from an ailment or two. But for me what I noticed the most was the mental effect of mistreating my body. I was lacking in happy hormones due to a very alcohol induced sedentary lifestyle. So another really helpful tip is to increase your endorphin levels with a spot of exercise. Unless its been part of a sport, running has never been my go-to. Even though back in school I was pretty darn good at it it’s never something that I’ve been able to sustain as part of a fitness regime. This time round however I’ve changed my mindset on it somewhat. It’s somehow refreshing to go for an early morning run. Blow off some steam, run off some frustration, and of course get some fresh air in my lungs before the London rush hour smog hits. As well as my morning run I also make sure to go for a half an hour to an hour walk each lunchtime and I track my daily steps. I aim for around 10,000 per day but I’m not too militant about it. The most important thing is that you do something to get your body moving.

  • Get enough day light

We all know that we need that vit D for a healthy body and mind, but it’s not only for this reason that day light is so important. It’s also to help align our body clock! If we don’t get the required hours of day light our bodies aren’t able to regulate things like hormones/ sleep/ wake up times. This also goes for night time/ dark hours and it’s where our use of bright lighting and screen time can have a negative impact. So like I mentioned previously I try to maximise on my daylight, as well as put my phone away before bed in the evening and instead pick up a book to read with dim lighting (not so I have to strain my eyes of course). Like I overheard someone say the other day ‘who knew there was two 6 clocks in one day!?’

  • Grow your sober circle

When you take a step back and look at your current friendships and how you socialise you’ll most likely find alcohol involved in some way. When we celebrate, we drink and when we commiserate we also drink. We drink at weddings, we drink at wakes, we drink to catch up, we drink to send off. So it’s not strange that we should feel that pang of anxiety at the thought of having to re-learn how to socialise sober. In my first couple of weeks I have taken a bit of a step back from socialising such as declining the end of month work drinks as well as any nights out. I have however still been able to go to the pub on a few occasions. Last Sunday for example I went for a Sunday roast where everyone else was drinking aside from myself. And on Friday evening I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen for some time after work. I arranged for us to meet at Brew Dog in Soho because I knew that they would have some nice AF options. I’ve been lucky that the friends I have spoken to about my new lifestyle have been pretty supportive as a whole, but it is also good to have a network of friends who you can spend time with who don’t drink. Who you can socialise with safely in the knowledge that alcohol wont be brought up or consumed. I have made some connections with these types of likeminded people in Facebook groups for example, and you’ll be surprised how open people are to making new friendships on there. It’s really fantastic! It’s also great to be able to share your thoughts if you think you might fall off the wagon. I have someone I know I can text if I’m feeling a little vulnerable, and I also know that I can post in one of my groups and have tens of replies within minutes full of support and well wishes. Pretty cool.

  • Self love and being mindful

This journey puts some much needed focus and attention on you. The most important person in your life whom you’ve been neglecting for so long. I spend a lot of time now paying attention to how I am feeling emotionally and how my body is reacting to it. This is all part of being mindful and I would definitely recommend that we all get clued up on it. From meditation to simply sitting quietly and listening to music, there are lots of different approaches to it. As a part of this I also like to make sure that the space surrounding me at home is calming. So try having a de-clutter, it really helps to de-stress and it’s darn satisfying too! Maybe drop a load off to a local charity shop, or if you need some spare cash pop some stuff on Depop or eBay. The more productive I am, the better I feel! Your home should be your sanctuary, where you can retreat to at the end of your day and unwind so make sure it reflects that.

  • Get a sober app

On day one I downloaded an app so I could track my progress. Personally I chose the ‘I am Sober’ app available on Apple and Android. It tracks the number of days you’ve been sober as well as money and time saved. You also have to make a daily pledge to stay sober, and review the day before you go to bed so you take accountability, and track how you felt that day. As well as this there is a community board within the app where you can share stories with people who have reached the same milestone as you. It gives you a great sense of achievement and I highly recommend it.

  • Eat well

I was lucky enough to grow up with a mum who was mostly vegetarian in my younger years, so I was always exposed to a wide range of fruits and vegetables. So for me I am in my absolute element on the vegan diet and can’t think of any vegetables that I don’t like. Just don’t talk to me about coriander. Urgh. In order to make sure I eat well, and also save money I cook most evenings. I make enough food to last me for dinner and lunch the next day, if not two days. I have a relatively small compact space in my studio but I really enjoy coming home and unwinding by doing some cooking in the kitchen. Perhaps I should take this time away from the screen but I love catching up on YouTube videos whilst I make dinner. I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth but I’m an absolute sucker for savoury food. So I do have to be a little bit careful to not over do it on the carbs such as pasta and bread. They don’t agree with me at all but they’re so damn tasty! Eating well most definitely helps you to control stress and anxiety as well as sleep so it’s worth reviewing your diet. Saying that I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself and definitely allow some treats.

  • Pick up that hobby

Staying busy is a great way to ensure that you don’t consider heading to the pub (which wouldn’t be far for me as I live above one). Just make sure to remember the previous point about mindfulness and self love, don’t over-do it. There are so many things I’ve thought about doing over the years that never materialised, so now is a great time to start! I’ve always had a fascination with pickling and fermentation so that’s going to be my next project!

So how did I feel after the first 7 days? Well firstly I noticed that I had a lot more energy. I’ve still been struggling a bit in terms of sleep but I could definitely tell a difference. I also had more motivation in terms of work, and a strong need for creativity. My mindset also changed as I started focussing more on the positives than the negatives, and I could control my thoughts and emotions better. So not a bad result after just one short week, I’d love to know what other people experienced, what was the hardest/ easiest part to your first 7 sober days?

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