Loneliness in Early Recovery – Tips & Tricks to get through it
By Ginger B
How much time was consumed while we were drinking and using? There was the thinking about it. Then the planning for it. Then the time actually engaging in the using. And, the worst part, time spent dealing with the hangover! Repeat again and again!
Now, we have come to the end and decided enough is enough. This is truly the hardest part. A life spent one way and now you are expected to do a 180? How do you go from drinking every night, to not drinking? What are you suppose to do with all you free time? You know you can’t hang out with your old friends because they will just get you drunk. Yet, you don’t have any sober friends. What to do, what to do?
Go to an AA/NA Meeting –
Here you will find people that are in your shoes. These are the people that are not drinking/using. These are your new best friends! They know exactly where you have been and the pain you are in. Believe me when I tell you that if you have a drinking problem, you will identify with these people. DO NOT let the excuses like: “I don’t want people in my community to know” (Guess what? They already know!) “I don’t have time” (Really? It takes less time to go to a 1 hour meeting than all the time you spent drinking.) “I can do this on my own” (Sure! Give it a try.)
Take up knitting (AKA-an new activity to learn from scratch)-
Nothing is more time consuming than learning a new skill. You now have time to do all those activities that you promised yourself you would do, but drank instead.
Clean the house top to bottom-
Maybe not in all one shot, but you have to start somewhere. There is nothing more gratifying than having your sacred space clean of dirt and clutter.
This should really be at the top of the list because it does so much good other than taking up time. It helps your mood as well as your quality of sleep. Start slow, but do it. Perhaps one of your new friends in sobriety will join you.
So much of our time was spent thinking about ourselves, perhaps it is time to give back? Find a charity you are interested in and see how you can help. It will also make you feel good about yourself and in doing so you may not feel the need to drink/drug.
If this doesn’t trigger thoughts of drinking or using, catch up on some literature that you have missed over the years. Along this line, start a book club, but no wine necessary!
Meet people for lunch –
Obviously, meet people who are non-drinkers or those who won’t drink at lunch. Reconnect with people that you lost touch with due to your using.
Get a Hobby –
Similar to #2 above, think back to your childhood and what you might have stopped doing that you may want to take back up. If you don’t have one, think about something you have always wanted to do, but never gave yourself the time to do it.
Learn to Meditate –
I could go on and on about this one! The benefits of meditating run a close second to exercise. In fact, you can combine the two. Meditating is essential in dealing with stress and there is nothing more stressful than giving up drinking! Start with 5 minutes. Set a timer and don’t judge the thoughts that come up, just acknowledge and let them float by! You will be amazed at how good you will feel when you get the hang of it.
Make a schedule and stick to it –
Very important, get up at the same time every day and plan ahead. Know exactly what you are going to do with your day. The worst thing for someone who is trying to quit drinking is to “be bored”. We are so used to filling it with our addictive behaviours. So, first and foremost, know what you are going to do everyday.
So that’s it, just a few tips on keeping yourself busy! The most important thing you can do for yourself in the beginning is to “just not drink or use!” Everything else will fall into place.