Do Something Fun

Through all of the important and difficult work you are doing toward your recovery, it’s important to always be aware of how you’re feeling about all of it. If you begin to feel bogged down or overwhelmed, you need to take time out for yourself. This week’s safe coping strategy:

Self-nurture. Do something that you enjoy (take a walk, see a movie, etc.)

The road to recovery is long and difficult. The work you are doing is extremely important, both for your happiness and your survival. But it is a lot of work, and you continue to struggle with it day in and day out in the name of sobriety. You are to occasionally be rewarded for that!

And, let’s be honest, even though you are surrounded by supportive counselors, family, friends and advisors, there are still times when you are the only one who can make you happy.

Take time out from your daily grind and do something just for you. Do something that brings you extreme joy, and that will have you feeling positive and motivated. The things you choose to do can be large, planned out activities that you schedule in advance, or simple outings you choose to do on the spur of the moment. Some examples of ways to self-nurture are:

–Talk a walk. Long or short, that’s up to you. Choose a location that brings you happiness, such as a hike in the woods, or a walk along a beach, or just a stroll through your neighborhood.

–Take yourself to a movie. It can feel strange at first to see a movie by yourself, but I’ve done it a few times and I think you’ll find it to be a very enjoyable experience. You don’t have to share your snacks with anyone!

–Take yourself to lunch or dinner at a nice restaurant. This can feel weird at first too. You might feel as if everyone in the restaurant is staring at you, wondering why you’re alone. But, odds are no one is looking at you at all. If it helps, bring a book or newspaper to read. Order your favorite dish on the menu, even if it’s the most expensive. And by all means, order dessert.

–Plan a weekend trip to participate in an activity you enjoy, such as kayaking, hiking, camping, fishing, visiting art museums, participating in a meditation retreat, antiquing or visiting friends. Just get away for a while. It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out vacation, just a day and a half or two days away from home to relax and refresh.

–Get “dolled up.” Go get yourself a new haircut or new hair color. Get a manicure and a pedicure. Buy yourself a new outfit, it doesn’t even have to be for a special occasion, just for fun. Buy a new lipstick color. Anything to change up your look a little bit, and make it feel refreshed.

–Do something good for your body that you enjoy. Take a fun class at the gym. Get a massage. Take a yoga class. You’re having fun but you’re also doing good by your body.

–Nurture yourself spiritually, whatever that means for you. Go to church or temple. Do a private Bible study. Spend some time meditating. Listen to a spirituality podcast, or read a book about spirituality.

–Do something artistic. Paint, draw, sculpt, craft, build something. Anything that’s creative and involves you using your hands, and really participating in the process. The creative process can be incredibly freeing and healing.

These are just a handful of ideas, you can come up with your own. Anything that’s fun and brings you joy, and is outside your normal daily routine. Take yourself on as many of these “self dates” as you can. The happiness it brings will be extremely beneficial for your recovery and your outlook on life. You’re dealing with an addiction, which is hard work. But you can have fun with life too!

Missing Out on All the Fun

Once at an AA meeting I attended several months ago, a man said, “If you’re in AA, the fun days of your drinking are over.” And I’ll never forget that. He was joking, and we all laughed, but he was also poignantly correct. The statement got me thinking, and changed how I viewed my addiction.

One of the first thoughts that came to my mind when I had the very first fleeting thought ever about trying to get sober, was all the fun times I’d be missing out on. And I’d venture a guess that this crosses the mind of every alcoholic.

No champagne on New Year’s, no beers at cook outs or baseball games, no wine with fancy dinners, no margaritas on Cinco de Mayo.

But truthfully, my drinking had stopped being about that kind of stuff long ago.

Wine with fancy dinners was replaced with an entire bottle of chardonnay alone watching TV on the couch. Beers at cook outs were replaced with swigs of vodka or tequila from the bottle in my purse in addition to beers. Semi-hiding bottles of wine in the back of the fridge, or filling the wine rack back up with cheap grocery store wine was replaced with fully concealing bottles of liquor around the house. And there’s nothing fun at all about living with the kind of constant, deep fear and shame that goes along with those things.

I thought about that man’s quote for the first time in a long time last night, as I wrote in my journal before bed. I was lamenting on how fast time had flown for me lately. I’ve been having a lot of memories recently of a weekend vacation my husband and I had taken to a really nice bed and breakfast, back in January. And now it’s nearly May already. In between, I’ve spent 38 days in total in rehab, away from home. Time seems to have gone by in an instant. I wrote in my journal, “I’m missing out on my life.”

I used to think that getting sober meant missing out on life. Missing out on the fun. Not being a part of the action. When in truth, my addiction was holding me back from so much more. I wasn’t relishing in and enjoying those sweet, quiet moments with my children, who are growing up way too fast. I wasn’t spending any quality time with my husband. I wasn’t involved with any hobby or activity that was just for me. I woke up, I drank, I went to bed.

I’m finally able to see that being sober doesn’t mean missing out on all the fun. It means finally being about to allow yourself to have a little fun. And finding fun things that are beneficial to you, healthy for you. I keep telling myself lately that I need to get my life back on track. But, I’ve been thinking of it in terms of life being in some kind of paused state. But, life never pauses; it’s happening all the time, all around us. And when you’re using, you’re not really paying attention, and you’re not truly enjoying yourself at all.