As I’ve learned over the past few months of my sobriety journey, having a “sobriety toolkit” has been key to breaking my dependence to alcohol and remaining sober for another day. What helps me to choose sobriety daily, and show up for life 100% sober, no matter what gets thrown my way? And why is this so important? To put it quite simply, as I once heard it quoted, “While you work on your sobriety, your addiction is doing pushups.” Addiction of any type is a monster that can’t be battled with willpower alone. And this I know too well! Acknowledging and embracing that fact and then arming myself mentally to never have to fight with alcohol, but instead learning to focus on living life to the fullest, 100% sober. I have found simple actions, peppered throughout my day keep me mentally “armored” to work through life, instead of finding (oh too many) reasons to let alcohol win. Within my “toolkit, everything (so far) seems to fit under four actions: Listening, Reading, Moving, and Stillness.
Recovery Elevator Podcast
This podcast for me is gem. I usually listen to episodes on my way to and from teaching my Pilates classes in the evenings. Hearing other people’s similar struggles with alcohol and what led them to becoming sober hits home for me in so many ways. To see people from such different walks of life (and a few with a similar backgrounds to mine) reminds me how different we all are, yet how similar at the same time. And since I’ve never attended an AA meeting, this is kind of like my “strength in numbers.” Listening to others share their journey with alcohol sobriety has definitely helped me along mine. And to make it even more amazing, the podcast author, Paul Churchill, has over 3 years of alcohol sobriety under his belt as well. He finds a way to bring out the story of others in recovery, while sharing his own story with us too. Everything about this podcast is relatable and REAL, which I love.
Books like This Naked Mind by Annie Grace were integral to me starting my sobriety journey, but right now I’m reading books on other topics that interest me, from a recovery aspect as well spiritual and personal growth. Another good read in the early days of my sobriety was Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnson. This book further resonated with me about how hard the alcohol industry markets their products to young women from way, way, waaayyy before we are even of legal age to drink. (Seriously, hide your kids.)
Bible study on my Bible App: As a Christian, I have turned up my focus a bit on trying to apply the word to my life, in a deeper and more meaningful way. I follow several reading plans on my Bible app, from a parenting devotional to a daily inspiration devotional to help me be a (slightly. ever so slightly!!) better version of myself each day. The devotionals are usually a pretty quick read, so I can open my Bible app and read it just about anywhere, and begin absorbing the message before my kids interrupt (so we are pretty much talking about 30 seconds of uninterrupted bits of reading time here. HA!)
It’s no secret I love to exercise, however I’ve brought focus back to moving with intention, listening to my body, and breathing (you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to stop breathing deeply when you are exerting energy, thereby stressing your body out even more!) Moving with intention as I exercise, rather than just gritting through so I can check it off my to-do list for the day reminds me to stay present and in the moment (even if that moment is at the exhausting end of a HIIT workout…See some of my workout routines here!)
On the other end of moving is stillness. Y’all know my struggles with meditation. I wish I was better at it, and I wish I did it much more regularly than I do, and I hope that one of these days I finally fall into a stride that doesn’t involve me accidentally falling asleep during it!!!
What does work for me now though are breathing exercises! Finding stillness in my body and mind by focusing a minute or two on my breath (I guess this is a form of meditation, go figure!) Just taking those few breaths to slow down my breathing, heart rate, and find stillness within is gold for me, especially when my mind is stirring or anxious. My favorite breath is the 1 minute breath from Meditation as Medicine by Dharma Singh Khalsa and Cameron Sauth. I’m still working up to the 1 minute version, but I do a 30-36 second version of it. The 1 minute version is as follows: Breathe in slowly and deeply for 20 seconds. Hold your breath for 20 seconds, exhale slowly for 20 seconds. I am at 10-12 second cycles for each step of this breath, but I already feel the calming release that happens within my body on the exhale. Breathing exercises can be done ANYWHERE, which I love….driving, walking, showering, right before bed. And breathing exercises combined with some calming lavender essential oil?? Well now I’m just spoiling myself!
To recap, my sobriety toolkit is filled with various, small commitment (because, kids) activities that help me on my sobriety journey. Listening to sobriety podcasts, reading, praying and reflecting, exercising and finding stillness has been key to me finding and staying sober another day.