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7 Tips For Managing Your Drinking Post-Quarantine

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If you found yourself drinking more throughout the pandemic, you are not alone. Per a survey by the American Psychological Association, many people drank more to cope with this year of unprecedented stress. On the other hand, it’s also been a time of reflection, and many people have started re-evaluating their relationship with alcohol and seeking healthier coping mechanisms. I get to see this firsthand as a therapist on the Monument platform. Whether you have recently begun to cut back or abstain, or have been maintaining a goal long-term, it’s natural to feel some apprehension as a post-pandemic world appears on the horizon. You can be excited about turning this corner and anxious about what it will bring. Wherever you are in your journey, know that you’ve already come so far in making it to this point, and there is so much to be proud of. Keep these 7 insights in mind as you continue on into this next chapter.

1. Your boundaries are invaluable 

Develop a clear understanding of what changes you want to bring with you out of quarantine, including your goals for sobriety or moderation. Communicating these boundaries at home, work, and with friends will help you honor your needs and progress. Boundaries are also instrumental to establishing a sense of safety, and developing trust in yourself to not revert to old patterns. It can be difficult to speak up for our needs at first, but it significantly reduces the likelihood of them getting overlooked or not addressed. Chances are, others will greet us with empathy, grace and open dialogue.

Take a pacing approach and begin practicing this now. Start reaching out to a friend or coworker about your new drinking habits (or lack thereof!). Read these tips about going to your first party sober. Join one of our free, therapist-moderated alcohol support groups to talk through your feelings about the world reopening. Taking action now will help reduce the looming feeling of “I don’t know where to begin”. 

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2. It’s important to embrace all the feelings

The transition out of quarantine is exciting for many reasons. However, it’s important to appreciate that change can be challenging, and if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, those feelings are 100% valid, too.  In a world where we’re often subject to ‘toxic positivity,’ we need to remember that all emotions are valuable. Give yourself space to see the “ands” in your life. For example: “I can be both relieved and worried”. Ultimately, acknowledging and validating your own experience will be the key to exploring the new opportunities of a post-pandemic world.

3. It’s okay to feel worse before you feel better

The effects of traumatic experiences, including the collective trauma of a global pandemic, can be intensified over time if not addressed. Uncomfortable feelings are a natural signal from our body that we are now ready to start processing our emotions and relieving that intensity. Engaging in alcohol therapy is an incredible tool for working through these challenges. You will feel better with time, and you deserve self-compassion and support along the way. 

Managing your drinking through quarantine

Managing your drinking can be especially challenging during times of heightened stress and isolation. Join the discussion about how to moderate your drinking or stay sober through quarantine.
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4. You’ve made more progress than you might realize 

Most of the skills you’ve developed or are developing during the pandemic are transferable. A post-quarantine world does not mean “starting over”, it means building on the progress you’ve already made. You’ve likely discovered new things about yourself during this time, and have a richer understanding of what adds meaning to your life. These valuable lessons will help guide you as you navigate the future. 

Your body and mind have persevered under unthinkable circumstances. Your accomplishments this past year may look differently than what you expected, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been making progress. Simply surviving in times of crisis is productive, and working towards sobriety or moderation on top of that is incredibly meaningful. 

I'm doing the best I can and I can do better

5. You will discover all new benefits of drinking less

One of the many gifts of sobriety or moderation is that you get to authentically experience every new adventure and feeling. Remind yourself of this during both the highs and lows. You can even say to yourself “I’m doing this alcohol-free”, or “this is the part of my story where I feel more clarity” as a reminder of this benefit. Whatever feelings come up, embrace that you are now more present, grounded, and physically capable to take on the challenges, and fully appreciate the joys. 

6. Find your sources of calm, and allow for intense emotions to arise 

There are bound to be unforeseen challenges as the world opens back up. It’s beneficial to establish calming practices so we can ride the waves of anxiety and other emotions without getting overwhelmed. This might include breathwork, meditation, yoga, a calming hobby or other practices of self-care in recovery. When we re-center ourselves in the moment, we are more likely to find peace with our emotions and make decisions that align with who we really are and what we really want. That’s why I recommend mindfulness practices to anybody reevaluating their relationship with alcohol, or making any other kind of lifestyle change. When we take time to recognize and accept intense emotions we suffer less, learn more, and clear a path to the other side.

Confronting an intense emotion? Be AWARE: Accept the intense feeling by putting a name to it (ex. shame, overwhelm) Watch the intensity of the feeling and grade it on a scale of 1-10 Act as ‘normally’ as possible to let your body & mind know that it can manage this feeling Repeat the above steps as the emotion subsides Expect the best will come out of this practice, and know that this will pass

7. You can always cancel plans 

Holistic practitioner Dr. Will Cole termed the acronym JOMO, which stands for Joy Of Missing Out. This message is a helpful reminder that you do not need permission to do what you want to in order to relax, process your emotions, and maintain your sobriety or moderation goal. Loneliness and aloneness are two very different emotional experiences. Despite the excitement for socializing again, we may find we need more alone time than expected. Whatever comes up for you, it’s 100% valid. Whether in a group or by yourself, you have the opportunity to cultivate new, authentic ways of relaxing and celebrating.

In quarantine we discovered that we can still find joy, even through fear and sadness. Remember to savor the little things, practice being present when it matters, and share joy when you can. If you find it hard to be compassionate to yourself, start with giving it to others. 

We will not go back to normal, normal never was... we are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment, one that fits all of humanity and nature.
We will co-create the post-quarantine society as we go along. It’s not a return to how it was, it’s an opportunity for evolution. We each can play a role in changing the language around alcohol use & recovery, creating sober-friendly work environments, speaking openly about our relationship with alcohol, and celebrating sobriety and moderation in every corner of society. Whatever comes our way, we will navigate it together.

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Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

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9 Tips From Sober Entrepreneurs On Making Your Office Sober-Friendly

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Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve had the honor and challenge of creating places people love to work. And I think, for the most part, I’ve done a decent job. However, it wasn’t until I began my own sobriety journey a few years ago that I fully recognized how prominently alcohol shows up in the workplace — even the ones I helped create.

As the world reopens, there’s been no shortage of discussion about the future of work. We’re talking about transforming the way companies approach office space, remote work, sick day policies, travel, and entertainment. The reopening of corporate America presents a long-overdue opportunity to revisit our workplace culture, and bring inclusion and employee wellbeing to the forefront. One way to do that? A more mindful approach to how alcohol shows up (and doesn’t!) in your workplace.

I had the honor of collaborating with Kelsey Moreira, CEO & Founder of Doughp, to put our ideas to paper. Kelsey has been sober for nearly 6 years, and has literally made mental health her business. In addition to creating seriously legit cookie dough, Doughp donates 1% of sales to She Recovers, and has created a company culture where mental health comes first. Here are our tips for a more sober-friendly office.

Kelsey Moreira, CEO & Founder of Doughp Kelsey Moreira, CEO & Founder of Doughp

1. Educate about alcohol use disorder: Statistically, there are likely people in your own professional community who are struggling to manage their drinking. To be more inclusive of people navigating sobriety or moderation, whether that’s your employee base, or your customer base, it’s crucial to understand alcohol use disorder (AUD). For far too long, excessive alcohol use has been viewed as a moral failing instead of the medical condition it is. Leaders and decision-makers should familiarize themselves with the leading science about AUD, including what influences it, how it displays itself in individuals, and alcohol treatment options. This might require challenging your own biases about alcohol consumption. That’s part of the process.

2. Swap out the keg: With your newfound knowledge about AUD, consider putting in a keg of kombucha in place of alcohol in the office. Putting alcohol at the front & center of events puts pressure on staff to cozy up to the bar or risk being left out of valuable team building and conversations with management that may be happening over a glass of whiskey. If you’re not willing to ditch the office booze entirely, consider aiming for a 1-to-1 ratio between alcoholic and non-alcoholic options: this includes non-alcoholic beers, wines, and spirits. You could even create your own alcohol-free cocktail inspired by Monument’s digital drinkbook, Delish AF. Options are plentiful, and everyone deserves a celebratory drink.

Moderation in the time of Coronavirus

The global pandemic is affecting our behaviors in many ways, including our alcohol consumption. Join the discussion about assessing your own drinking behaviors and creating healthier habits through moderation.
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3. Be a thoughtful event planner: Having a business dinner or event? Pick a restaurant with a thoughtful alcohol-free cocktail menu or ensure the caterer is asked to prepare a list of fun alternative drinks outside of just water. Let all of your employees, vendors, and clients feel comfortable ordering what suits them without fear of visual judgment or questions like “What’s wrong with you tonight?” and “Why aren’t you drinking?” Alcohol-free cocktails can be a great tool for creating a festive environment without pressure or judgment.

4. Celebrate sober milestones just like other milestones: Encourage discussion around sobriety by celebrating milestones like sober birthdays in exactly the same manner as you do regular birthdays. If your employee or teammate made the decision to change their life for the better, that should 100% be celebrated, like running a marathon, or achieving a meaningful life milestone. Make them feel extra special with cookie dough, confetti and the Doughp Sober Birthday Box — launching mid May!

Doughp cookie doughPhoto courtesy of Doughp

5. Provide resources to your workforce: It’s inspiring to see how companies are expanding their employee benefits beyond the traditional medical and dental. Wellness extends far beyond our physical wellbeing, and employee benefits and resources should reflect that. Check in with your benefits providers or EAP to see how you might offer online alcohol treatment as a benefit to your employees. You can also connect with the Monument partnerships team about sharing evidence-based resources with your workforce by emailing partnerships@joinmonument.com.

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6. Mental Health Mondays: This practice has been a game-changer at Doughp as part of their Mental Health Policy. (Check out a template to implement in your company here!) Using Slack or another internal communication tool? Encourage conversation about the tough stuff in life by starting a Mental Health Monday channel and asking each employee to share one high and one low from the last week. This opens a more honest dialogue in the workplace and cultivates a deeper understanding of what’s happening in your employees’ lives. Remember: vulnerability starts at the top! Chime in each week and don’t hold back on your own shares. Also be sure to engage and show support when an employee also opens up. This will show your team it’s a safe place where they can bring their full selves to the office.

7. Team building doesn’t require booze: If you’re sober, it can be uncomfortable to hear that the team building event this quarter is wine tasting in Napa. Most wineries don’t keep many N/A options on hand. Keep your whole team in mind when planning retreats and team building events. Encourage your team to get creative and help come up with ideas. Think outside the box: painting classes, museums, cooking classes, pottery, hiking. Team Monument’s favorite activities to date? Bowling, trivia, and an alcohol-free cocktail tasting. An added bonus is that your employees will form even more authentic connections, without the influence or potential negative effects of alcohol.

 

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8. Check in on your company communications: This one is two-fold. First, check in on how you converse with your employees. Next time you draft a company-wide announcement, ask yourself: how might this be received by someone struggling to manage their drinking right now? How about someone who is sober? Be mindful of your language. Let’s leave “Wine o’ Clock” (far, far) behind us. Second, proactively encourage people to reflect on their relationship with alcohol in a way that feels positive and encouraging. Invite speakers to talk about substance use disorders and recovery. Share resources in a wellness-specific newsletter. And if you’re comfortable, share your own story…

9. Sober business leader? We’d love to hear from you! If you’re a sober business leader, we’d love to get in touch through social media (@doughp & @joinmonument) or via our contact emails. Sharing your story, to one person or thousands, helps break the stigma. Willing to share your story, and/or have ideas about how to create more sober-friendly offices? Let’s chat!

It’s been an honor learning from Kelsey about how she’s building a mental health-first culture at Doughp, and sharing her wisdom beyond her own office (or Zoom) walls. Sobriety is a superpower, and it’s our hope that business leaders recognize that, and embrace it in all facets of their company culture. It’s great for business, and great for your people. Here’s an alcohol-free cheers to that.

Mike Russell, CEO & Co-Founder of MonumentMike Russell, CEO & Co-Founder of Monument

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Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

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How Alcohol (& Recovery) Affects Your Sex Drive

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More often than not, we don’t fully recognize how alcohol is affecting our lives until we start cutting it out. As a physician on the Monument platform, I see firsthand how excessive drinking affects all dimensions of my patients’ health, and the physical and emotional effects of the alcohol recovery journey.

Early recovery is often characterized by uncomfortable changes that indicate that our body is healing. One of those that is very commonly experienced, but very rarely spoken about, is decreased sex drive.

Recovery is an incredible process, and brings an abundance of benefits of sobriety. However, early recovery is often characterized by uncomfortable changes that indicate that our body is healing. One of those changes that is very commonly experienced, but very rarely spoken about, is decreased sex drive. It’s completely natural to experience a decreased sex drive when beginning a sobriety or moderation journey.

Low libido can occur for many reasons, including physical, mental, and emotional drivers. With time, the body and mind are able to heal, and you’re able to more authentically embrace all the joys of life. Here’s why alcohol & alcohol recovery can affect sex drive, and what to expect throughout your journey. First, let’s start by looking at the biology behind alcohol and sex drive.

What is Alcohol’s Affect on Sex-Related Hormones? 

When alcohol is first consumed, testosterone and dopamine levels rise, which may initially increase sexual desire. However, this boost is only temporary. Over time, drinking alcohol can cause a decrease in testosterone, serotonin, and dopamine, which in turn can lead to depression, anxiety, and overall decreased sexual desire. 

women in bed

The good news is, the body is an incredible healer. With time, your body will adjust its low testosterone, serotonin, and dopamine levels back to their healthy states. Hormone levels and sexual tendencies typically recover within the first 4 weeks of the alcohol recovery timeline. It’s completely natural to have a decreased sexual desire during that time period. With long-term sobriety or moderation, the body will re-stabilize hormone levels, allowing sex, and life in general, to be more fully enjoyed.

It Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction

While alcohol consumption may cause a temporary increase in sexual desire, it’s not uncommon for the body’s sex organs to respond negatively to alcohol. . When it comes to alcohol and sex drive, many people experience physical sexual dysfunction. For people with penises, alcohol consumption can impact their ability to get and maintain an erection, a phenomenon referred to as alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction. For those that do achieve an erection, it’s also common for excessive drinking to result in delayed ejaculation.

It Can Cause Vaginal Dryness

For people with vaginas, alcohol consumption may impact normal vaginal secretions during sexual activity causing vaginal dryness, which can lead to an unpleasant sexual encounter. Excessive drinking may impact the body’s response to sexual arousal, making it more difficult for vaginas to self-lubricate, and resulting in vaginal dryness, unwanted friction, or discomfort during sexual intercourse.

It Can Make it More Difficult to Orgasm

Because alcohol can impact sexual desire, arousal, and physical sexual function, it can make it more difficult to achieve an orgasm. Orgasms may be less intense, take longer to reach, and occur less frequently.

It May Cause Nerve Damage To Occur

Long-term excessive alcohol use can lead to nerve damage both in the clitoris and the penis. This can contribute to difficulty with arousal or achieving an orgasm, which can also lead to a fear of intimacy and sexual intercourse.
When one decreases their alcohol intake or becomes sober, the body begins to naturally heal itself. While some damage can be permanent, the nerve-endings will start to repair themselves so that the body will likely regain full sexual capabilities again. If you have questions about the physical side effects of alcohol & alcohol recovery, you can ask your physician for personalized advice.

It Can Lead to Emotional, and Interpersonal Changes

In addition to alcohol’s effects on your biology, the psychological factors at play when changing your relationship with alcohol can affect your sex life. Here I’ve outlined additional changes in early recovery that may influence your sex drive.
These changes can be uncomfortable, but you don’t have to navigate them alone. Working with a therapist in an alcohol therapy program can be a powerful tool in processing these experiences. Regardless of your path forward with online alcohol treatment, remember that this is a non-linear journey, and you hold an incredible power to heal.

It Can Lead to Lack Of Interest, Including Low Sex Drive and Sexual Desire

Drinking alcohol may lead to a gradual lack of interest towards activities that used to bring you joy, including sex. With excessive use, alcohol can assume a leading role in your life, and activities and relationships can take a back seat. A low sex drive, or low libido, can be described as a decrease in sexual stimulation and interest towards sexual activity. As alcohol can impact an individual’s mental health and emotional wellbeing, any activity – whether related to sexual behavior or otherwise – may feel less desirable for those navigating alcohol use disorder.

Self-Esteem Needs Time To Recover

Some people experience a temporary boost in self-esteem when they consume alcohol. It’s not uncommon to feel like your drinking habits are part of your personality, even though drinking is a behavior, not a character trait. Because of that, many people experience an early recovery identity crisis. Recovery often requires getting to know oneself again without the influence of drinking alcohol. While cutting back on alcohol ultimately leads to increased self-confidence, it can be difficult to regain your sense of self right away. Feeling unsure about yourself can decrease your sexual arousal. There is nothing wrong with needing time for self-discovery before being intimate with another person.

Building self-esteem while changing your relationship with alcohol

Starting your journey toward sobriety or moderation can bring on a wave of different emotions, including what could feel like an identity-crisis. This is normal. Join a discussion on how to not only navigate but how to cultivate confidence.
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Shame And Intense Emotions Can Be Distracting

Unfortunately, alcohol use disorder is often misrepresented as a personal failure instead of a medical condition. Let me be clear, choosing to change your relationship with alcohol is an incredible and brave act of self-care. It isn’t always easy, however, to juggle the various emotions that can come with making this transformation. Experiencing shame, feeling fear of not reaching a goal, or simply being preoccupied while undergoing change are all legitimate reasons to have less sexual desire during the early days of recovery. All of these emotions need space to be felt and therefore better understood. You can work with a specialized therapist on an alcohol therapy program to work through your feelings and restructure negative thought patterns.  

men holding hands

It May Strain Your Relationships

Alcohol use disorder can also have a significant impact on loved ones, including our romantic relationships. After experiencing their loved one’s past excessive alcohol use, partners of people in recovery may have their own emotional reactions during the recovery journey, including feelings of resentment or anxiety. They are also deserving of support, and time to heal. This might initially affect a couples’ sex life. Healing is possible with open communication, engagement with resources like online alcohol support groups for people in recovery and friends and family, and a sense of mutual compassion.

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How Does Recovery Affect Your Sex Drive?

When you renegotiate your relationship with alcohol, many of the effects of long-term drinking can be reversed. Relationships can be mended, physical sexual functioning can be fully restored, and self-esteem can be repaired. Your body has a miraculous capability to heal, and facing emotions head on makes you a stronger, more present person. Here at Monument, we provide a judgement and stigma-free alcohol treatment program and support every step of the way. Whatever the challenge, you are not alone. 

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Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

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How to Stop Using Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism

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People use alcohol as a coping mechanism for a variety of complex reasons. Alcohol use disorder is a biopsychosocial condition, which means it’s influenced by biology, psychology, and socio-environmental factors While examining the drivers of excessive alcohol use can be an incredibly uncomfortable or even painful experience, it can also open the door to healing. 

Part of learning how to stop using alcohol as a crutch includes exploring deep-rooted emotions and traumas. It also involves understanding why using alcohol to cope isn’t healthy and knowing what type of healthy coping mechanism can be used in its place. These actions can lead you to achieve a healthy relationship with alcohol, no matter your habits today or your goals for tomorrow. And with online alcohol support groups and other evidence-based tools, like alcohol therapy, at your disposal, you will have the support you deserve to change your relationship with alcohol for good.

Why People Use Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism

Many people who use alcohol to cope are seeking a sense of escape and relief, or permission to relax and unwind. At face value, this activity seems benign. However, drinking alcohol as a coping strategy works… until it doesn’t. It numbs feelings, such as anxiety, depression, or shame, without addressing them. Alcohol can also intensify negative feelings and make co-occuring conditions like depression worse. Even if we recognize this, it’s easy to revert to what we know will temporarily heal the pain or soothe the negative emotion that may be overwhelming us. 

In addition to the individual trauma each of us carries, we are all experiencing the collective trauma of the time we live in, which can make it hard to find a healthy coping mechanism that works for us. We aren’t trained to inherently know what the best solution is. Finding a way to feel better as soon as possible is the road most often taken, and this usually involves alcohol. 

It’s important to give yourself the grace to realize that you’re learning as you go. The habit of winding down from a long week with a glass of wine or binge drinking on the weekend as a way to block out the stresses of the world may seem like common ways people escape. However, a better approach is tackling stressors head-on and finding a healthy way to cope that permanently adds value and fulfillment to our life. There is no shame in having used alcohol to cope. It’s important to remember that, and know that you have better options.

 

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Why Using Alcohol to Cope Isn’t Healthy

Although it’s not uncommon to use alcohol to cope, it isn’t a healthy coping strategy. Coping with alcohol can increase anxiety symptoms due to the constant pursuit of relaxation felt when buzzed. It causes a disconnection between your mind, body, and spirit, which may leave you feeling more in pain than before.  

When your daily stress level increases, the amount of alcohol consumption needed to relax or mask feelings often increases, too. Drinking alcohol may feel like an effective coping strategy, but it can eventually add another layer of stress to your life and make you always feel less than satisfied. It can also negatively affect your productivity, interpersonal relationships, sense of self-worth, physical health, and beyond. 

Changing your drinking habits is very much attainable, though. It starts with getting to the root of drinking and finding alternative coping mechanisms that don’t have alcohol at their core.

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If you're feeling anxious, you are not alone. Anxiety and drinking are often interconnected. Join a candid conversation about building coping skills to address anxious feelings while navigating sobriety or moderation.
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Getting to the Root of Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism 

Coping with alcohol provides a masked layer between your present reality and the deep-rooted drivers causing you to drink. Getting to the root of your drinking motives will help you gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts and behaviors and help you live a healthier life. 

First, ask yourself:What are the main stressors in my life?’ ‘Are my feelings guided by past traumatic experiences, present stressors, or anxiety about future thoughts?’ It may be a combination of all three. 

Uncovering Past Trauma 

 Excessive alcohol use is a common response to trauma. While our trauma doesn’t define us, it can influence our relationship with alcohol. Seeking therapy can help you uncover and heal from past trauma that may be subconsciously guiding your habits today. With time and support, reflecting on harmful events and starting the healing process can give you the sense of peace you’re seeking when coping with alcohol.

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Identifying Present Stressors

Additionally, day-to-day stressors can start to pile up and feel so overwhelming that we seek immediate relief. In these moments, practicing mindfulness brings your attention to the present moment and prevents your thoughts from spinning out of control in a stressful situation. 

Mindfulness can be achieved by simply closing your eyes and taking a few grounding breaths to bring you back to the moment. It can also involve taking a break to walk around the block or listen to relaxing music. Our thoughts are temporary. The more we take control over them and bring the mind to the here and now is powerful.

Addressing Future Anxiety

Anxiety about the future is common for many due to the nature of uncertainty regarding our health, relationships, and work matters. These anxious thoughts can influence our drinking habits. When thoughts about the future take hold,  journaling can help identify  which feelings are causing stress and when they most frequently occur. 

woman journaling

Journaling is a productive way to practice self care in recovery and allows you to get to the root of these feelings to find a healthy path forward instead of using alcohol as an escape. When practicing self-reflection, consider these types of questions:

  • Are your current feelings emotional leftovers from unhealed trauma? 
  • Are there areas of your past that have gone undiscovered that are taking up space? 
  • What is it that’s guiding the voice in your head that tells you that you aren’t allowed to take a break?
  • Are your feelings derived from new experiences? 
  • Do you have doubts about your capabilities to learn as you go?

Some of these questions may resonate more than others at different stages of your journey. As you look inward, you’ll begin to uncover areas that you may not have consciously realized were causing you stress or turmoil, and in turn impacting your drinking. Diving into the unknown can feel uncomfortable at first but can lead you to clarity and a truer sense of self. 

Recognizing That You Are Already Enough, And Don’t Need Alcohol 

Part of discovering how to stop using alcohol as a coping mechanism involves filtering out the “shoulds” of life generated by society, our upbringing, and our current inner circle. For example, when we see curated social media timelines of people who seemingly have their whole life together, we feel we should approach life in the same way. Trying to reach this level of perceived fulfillment can be a catalyst of using alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism. 

Think about the messages that have led you to believe things can only be one specific way in order for you to feel happy and successful. Famed researcher Brené Brown addresses this type of reality check as practicing critical awareness. While you can’t avoid the barrage of media messages, she says you can cultivate resiliency by not comparing your everyday life with manufactured images. She recommends posing questions to yourself like: Does what I’m seeing convey real life or fantasy? Do these images reflect wholehearted living or turn the valuable people and things in my life into objects?

person in field

You can apply this same critical awareness to the role alcohol plays in your life. Ask yourself: Who benefits from alcohol intake? What other factors lead you to use alcohol as your main way to relax? These factors may stem from your family history or long-held insecurities that fuel finding the immediate relief alcohol consumption can bring. 

The more you are aware of and appreciate your feelings, the more you can learn to trust yourself to handle experiences with integrity and compassion. What works for you may not work for another. Everyone is free to walk their own path.

Finding Positive Coping Mechanisms

Learning how to stop using alcohol as a coping mechanism can be challenging, and you don’t have to do it alone. At Monument, we believe that support to build positive coping mechanisms should be accessible and personalized. Through evidence-based, online alcohol treatment, including personalized therapy, physician-prescribed medication, and group support, we provide you with the support you  need at the time you need it. 

Therapy is a valuable tool that gives you the space to talk through the emotions and stresses that may cause you to use alcohol to cope. You can work with a specialized therapist to discuss your past and current habits, and identify new tools and routines that support your unique set of goals. Additionally, support groups give you an avenue to engage with others who are confronting similar questions and challenges. You can choose to listen, share, and learn in any capacity you wish and on your own schedule.

As you begin implementing healthier coping skills, consider what your perfect day would look like. What would you do? How would you feel? Who would you be with? Find people, places, and experiences that honor these feelings and allow you to lead a life that aspires to that ideal. 

woman crossing the street

Creating Your Path to a More Fulfilling Life

Every step you take in the interest of your own self-care is one step closer to achieving your ideal self.  Whatever your path looks like, it’s valid. Some may decide to abstain from using alcohol altogether. Others may explore how to moderate drinking to find the balance they’re looking for in building a healthier relationship with alcohol. 

It’s a non-linear journey filled with ups and downs, and we’re in it together. We’re here to help you identify and adopt the healthy coping mechanisms that work best for you and allow you to see how you can get more out of life by drinking less. 

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Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Sources:

https://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/practices/practices/view/27643/practicing-critical-awareness

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Self-Care in Recovery: 5 Ways to Put Your Wellness First

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Practicing self-care in recovery is an incredibly meaningful part of the journey for many. As you change your relationship with alcohol, how will you ensure you are prioritizing your wellbeing? What behaviors, habits, and activities do you want to integrate into your life? How do you want to show up for yourself and others? These are some of the questions to explore as you create your own version of self-care in recovery.

Why is Self-Care Important in Recovery?

Why is self-care important in recovery? Self-care includes developing and nurturing the tools, resources, and power within to take care of your physical and emotional health,  which allows you to feel more enjoyment every day. Change and growth associated with self-care may not always feel good while it’s happening, but the benefits of sobriety that are around the corner are worth it. Embracing the ups and downs is part of the human experience, and it ultimately leads to more resilience, gratitude, and a more fulfilling life. 

As you embark on this next phase of your journey, show yourself grace and know that recovery is often a non-linear path. Some days will look and feel better than others. Every day presents an opportunity for growth. Building upon your progress and moving forward is something to be proud of, and self-care can be a meaningful part of that experience. 

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5 Ways to Practice Self-Care in Recovery

When it comes to self-care and recovery, focus on growth opportunities that will feel authentic and rewarding to you. Here are five ways to take care of yourself as you change your relationship with alcohol.  

1. Explore Wellness Activities That Add Value

The importance of self-care in recovery starts by looking at the parts of wellness that add value to your life. These could be physical, emotional, or a combination of both. Physical acts of self-care may include taking a break between Zoom calls to go for a walk or nourishing your body with healthy food. It can also include setting goals for yourself, such as seeking out an interesting hiking trail or participating in a daily yoga flow. The self-care activities you choose can be as simple or complex as you like. 

Introducing exercise as a physical health activity simultaneously contributes to your emotional self-care as well. Other ways to incorporate emotional wellness into your daily routine include getting quality sleep, developing a mindfulness practice, and building a social network invested in your well-being. 

In addition to family and friends, you may also want to seek alcohol therapy and join an online alcohol support group and/or community forum. The idea is to maintain a reliable and accessible group of people you can turn to as you navigate sobriety or moderation.

 

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2. Be Intentional When Creating New Habits

Establishing new daily habits is another impactful part of the early recovery process that can help guide your self-care plan. In addition to dedicating time to new activities, being intentional about your smaller actions throughout the day, like eating and sleeping, can amount to meaningful growth.  

One avenue to think about is intuitive eating. There has been research linking intuitive eating with better psychological health and other physical health benefits. Being intentional about your eating habits without being restrictive can have a valuable impact on how you feel throughout the day. For more guidance about how to incorporate nourishing foods and vitamins and replace alcohol in your mealtime rituals, you can watch our expert interview on alcohol and nutrition.

Preventing relapse through self-care

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Check out the Schedule

Another important routine to check in on is your nightly ritual. Especially in early recovery, many people experience challenges falling asleep. Being intentional about your pre-sleep habits can result in more restful sleep and more energy throughout the day. For example, reducing screen time before bed, exercising early in the day,  and creating a mindfulness practice can result in higher quality sleep. For more sleep hygiene best-practices, watch our expert interview with Dr. James Besante, MD

Checking in on these habits is in itself an act of self-care. It’s important to remember that an ‘ideal day’ for you may look different than someone else navigating recovery. That’s why it’s helpful to work with a therapist in an alcohol therapy program to discuss your current routines and habits, and how you can adjust them to better align with your goals. 

 What we think affects our sleep quality: how many hours of sleep we get. What really affects our sleep quality: Alcohol Napping Caffeine Nicotine Exercise Eating Habits Medication Light exposure Allergies Noise Discomfort Anxiety Pre-Sleep Activities

Be Sure to Find Balance

When building new behaviors, it’s important to maintain balance. It can be tempting to go ‘all in’ on a new healthy activity, but focusing too much on a single aspect, however positive it may be, can start to feel overwhelming and stressful. As with changing your relationship with alcohol, finding what works for you will help you embrace and maintain healthier behaviors. Previously, alcohol may have played a main role in your daily life. Rather than replacing drinking with another activity that requires your full attention, be intentional with how you spend your time. Try to identify multiple outlets for your time and energy in a way that feels sustainable and fulfilling. 

Keep in mind, it’s okay if what once brought you joy doesn’t anymore, and it’s also valid if what fulfills you now changes in the future. You and your needs and ever-evolving, and your self-care routine can evolve, too. 

Check in with yourself and gauge how well your habits provide a sense of stability and comfort. Also, consider how they make you feel. The more you tune in to what your body needs, the easier it will become to make smaller adjustments to sustain your sober lifestyle.

man journaling

3. Journal for Self-Reflection

Another way to tap into how you’re feeling during recovery is by journaling. It gives you time to practice mindfulness as you sit with your thoughts and pay attention to your cravings and moods as they arise. Then, you can determine what you want to do in a thoughtful way rather than being guided by impulse and feeling tempted to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. A few prompts are:

  • What feeling(s) led to your last craving? 
  • How does your mood affect the quality of your day?
  • What alternatives do you have in place instead of drinking?
  • Have you used the resources available to help you maintain your sobriety? 

Making time for self-reflection and meditation can help guide your self-care in recovery. These practices allow you to get to the root of where your positive and negative emotions are stemming from and how you can address them in a healthy manner. You can explore these areas further through personalized online therapy and in the anonymous community forum. Each tool can provide a better understanding of what determines your behaviors and actions and present opportunities for growth. 

4. Create Experiences to Replace Drinking Rituals

Self-care and recovery often involve replacing drinking rituals with new fulfilling experiences. Alcohol takes center stage at many social gatherings. Happy hours, celebrations, and holidays are all times when alcohol is typically involved. 

Tap into your creative side and find enriching things to do instead of drinking. These activities may include photography, drawing, or learning a foreign language. You may want to join a nature group, book club, or intramural sports league. These are all healthy ways you can practice self-care while leading a sober lifestyle.

Furthermore, you can still carry on the tradition of happy hours with colleagues or birthday celebrations with friends. They can feel equally festive with delicious alcohol alternatives. There are many brands of non-alcoholic spirits, beers, and wines to choose from that are complex, delicious, and celebratory. 

As you progress through your journey, create your own versions of what these events look and feel like for you. Consider what you enjoy most about these experiences. Is it the connection and camaraderie with others? Is it the sense of happiness and relaxation it produces? These desires and feelings are valid and can still be achieved without alcohol being part of the ritual. 

two people sititng and watching the sunset over the ocean

5. Prioritize Your Own Needs

The primary value of self-care in recovery is that it teaches you to prioritize your own needs. Being someone that always says ‘yes’ can leave you feeling unfulfilled and depleted emotionally and spiritually. When you don’t prioritize yourself, it can also lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, or anger. 

Learning to Set Boundaries

By setting healthy boundaries and making decisions aligned with your goals and values, you are automatically practicing self-care and strengthening your connections. It allows you to show up for yourself in the best possible way, which in turn allows you to show up for others, too. 

Think of times when saying ‘no’ may have felt immediately uncomfortable but would have provided you long-term relief. It can be difficult to change this behavior pattern if you’re used to always being guided by what others want. However, you’ll start to see and feel a difference in your mental health when you start taking your own needs and feelings into account first. The result can be both empowering and healing. 

Life Shouldn’t Have to Stop for Recovery

Prioritizing  your own wellness is a crucial part of the recovery process. It will help you let go of deeply-ingrained negative habits and behaviors and make room for healthier ones. This process looks different for everyone. 

Some may find that they develop new habits and routines on their own, while others may seek support from an online alcohol treatment program like Monument to provide guidance and accountability along the way.  However you choose to make a change, you should be proud of that decision. There is no shame in seeking support. In fact, it’s the ultimate act of self-care. 

man looking at mountains

As with any change, there are growing pains and learning curves. It’s a non-linear path, and setbacks are often part of the journey. However, with time, self-care in recovery will become more natural to you, and your new habits will become second nature. You also are never alone. 

At Monument, we have free online support groups you can join based on your schedule and needs. Whether you need verbal affirmations, in-person accountability, or simply an ongoing connection with others, there are resources in place to help you on your way. They are therapist-moderated, and you are welcome to join anonymously if you wish. Whatever way will help you best show up for yourself is more than enough.

It takes an intentional effort to keep moving forward in changing your relationship with alcohol. We’re here to provide you the resources you deserve.

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Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Sources:

https://community.joinmonument.com/post/therapist-insight-4-tips-to-manage-anxiety-you-can-start-using-right-now-

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/review-article-relationships-between-intuitive-eating-and-health-indicators-literature-review/CBC03E81A54FBAAC49B2A8B2EC49631C