In. Out. Deep Breaths.
This is how I get through tough times throughout the day. This may sound silly, but don’t discourage the idea until you’ve tried it. I’m amazed by how often this one simple thing completely calms me down or at least distracts me enough to chill-ax a little bit.
Many stress factors affect us daily. Our jobs. Our kids. Our families going through a tough time. Taking time to care for ourselves. And many other situational stress points that keep us tightly wound if we’re not concentrating on breathing.
The metaphorical sense of taking a deep breath is just as important as the physical one. What I mean is that sometimes we need to a step away from the situation more so than we need to take a breath. Maybe your “deep breath” is walking into the other room and sitting quietly for a minute or two. Maybe it’s taking a walk around the block. Maybe it actually is stepping outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air.
There’s a reason why “I need to get some fresh air” is a thing. Removing yourself from a situation and taking in a deep dose of oxygen can invigorate your brain and help you think more clearly.
Be aware of your own self. Know when you need a break. Know when removing yourself for some fresh air will do everybody good. Take long and slow deep breaths. Fill your body with energizing air that will clear your mind. Remind yourself to be present in the moment. Allow yourself to admit you need a break. Then, come back recharged and ready to go.
There are millions of reasons why I fall short of being perfect. I won’t bore you with a list all of them here, but I will focus on one thing in particular I’ve been working on: judging others.
Every since I became sober, I’ve had issue with other people who drink. It’s not that I think they are making terrible life decisions and will wake up regretting having that beer or glass of wine or shot of whiskey. It boils down to jealousy. Not jealousy that they get to partake in the act of drinking alcoholic beverages. What I’m jealous of is the ability to have self control with alcohol.
I’m sure that sounds silly and childish, but it’s the truth. I wish I had self control when it comes to drinking, but I don’t. Period, the end.
Where I struggle with judgement is believing everyone else has a “problem” too, only because that makes me mentally feel better. It means I’m not weak. It means I’m not the only one who struggles with self control. I guess in a way it’s my subconscious telling me I’m better than the people who drink because I don’t drink.
In reality, everyone has their own struggles. I just happen to struggle with judging others. By declaring this character flaw though, I’m made more aware of the constant effort I need to invest in myself to continue to improve.
Progress, not perfection. One day at a time.
Often we forget about things that were once significant but now have become completely ordinary. For example, most people don’t wake up every day grateful for electricity and a refrigerator. However, you take these two things away and we could quite possibly loose our minds very quickly.
Gratitude is all about finding something, anything really, that brings thankfulness into your heart. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been grateful for my washer and dryer. (I realize that may sound silly, but go ahead and let your washer quit working for a few days. You’ll be extremely grateful for that machine!)
We also don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving 2018 rolls around to know about gratitude. What things are you grateful for in your life?
Do you have a good job? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food in your belly? Do you have a vehicle to get you places? Do your kids go to a school that helps them grow into smart, good people? Do you have friends and family? Do you have a network of people who support you? Do you have one close friend, significant other, or family member whom you count on?
All of these things may seem ordinary, but they aren’t guaranteed. They are blessings. The breath in your lungs is a blessing. The beating of your heart is a blessing. The ability to read this is a blessing.
Don’t take your blessings for granted.
This Holiday season, I’ve felt motivated to give more. Give more time. Give more money. Give more service. I’m not sure if it’s gratitude or perspective that’s got a hold on me, but I feel extremely blessed.
I feel blessed to have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I feel blessed that my husband has a good stable job, that he actually enjoys. I feel blessed that both of my parents are alive and very involved with our family. I feel blessed that the few friends I have are there for me when I need support. I feel blessed that my children are all healthy. I feel blessed that my husband and I work together as a team, no matter the obstacles we face as a married couple. I feel blessed to be loved. I feel blessed to be alive.
Blessings, gratitude, and perspective don’t come from material things. I hope that you can find the blessings already present in your life today.
One day at a time…
Anyone else feel weird when you’re at a holiday event and everyone’s sober? I mean, it is only my 4th year of sobriety. But it still feels weird. I was waiting for someone to fall down and start laughing from their pitiful attempt at sliding down the hallway in their socks too fast. Or for someone to start being totally obnoxious with their political rants.
But it wasn’t like that at all. There was fun, board games, a comedy special on Netflix, the Cowboys game, and lots of good food.
All in all, we had another great sober holiday.
There’s no need to start drinking wine when you start cooking everything first thing in the morning. There doesn’t have to be power naps when your buzz gets too overwhelming. You can still have great conversations, a good time, and be able to enjoy yourself all while staying true to the person you are working your best on becoming.
But most importantly for me, I can show my kids what the holiday truly is about…spending quality time with the people you love. Even if they’re terrible at board games!
I don’t take medicines unless I’m burning up with a fever or the pain somewhere in my body has finally got to the unbearable threshold. I’ve always been this way. Vitamins, supplements, and the occasion vitamin C are my daily pills.
But there are people who are dependent on medications they truly need (not the ones that are toxic and destructive). If you asked one of these people how important their medications are to them, I’m sure they’d tell you they are a completely different person without them. They need them. They physically and mentally don’t feel like themselves unless they get the proper dose each day.
This is how I feel about gratitude and prayer.
Sure, I can live without doing it. I won’t die. I’m not going to collapse one day because I forgot to get down on my knees and pray to God above. But I know I won’t be myself. The signs won’t show up immediately. It’s okay if I miss a dose once or twice ever so often. But it can be detrimental to my well-being if I don’t get my “meds” for several days.
I turn into a person my family doesn’t recognize. I turn into a person I don’t even recognize.
Gratitude and prayer are my stabilizers. They keep me grounded and my head clear. Their ability to steer me in the right mindset has proven more effective than any dose of anything else.
Try it some time. I promise it can do wonders for your mind, body, and soul.
My husband and I struggled for a while when we first became sober. We didn’t realize how much of a challenge it would be to go out to eat and go on vacation. We didn’t like going to restaurants where the margaritas were flowing or the beer smells took over. Being around alcohol when you’re freshly sober isn’t a good feeling when you lack the will to completely turn your back on the stuff.
Now, I’m happy to say we no longer suffer from the drama that surrounds alcohol. We can go to places where there’s bars all over and the smells are wafting through the air (a reasonable amount – nothing excessive).
We recently went on a weekend getaway and had the chance to dine at some amazing restaurants. Since we don’t go out often, we decided to splurge on some fantastic meals.
What is interesting, to me at least, is the different tones you get from the waitstaff when you tell them, “No thanks. We don’t need to see the wine list.” Or, “No, we don’t need anything from the bar, but that fresh mozzarella looks amazing!” Obviously they would rather us be partaking in adult beverages to drive the bill up higher. (What we should mention at the beginning is “Don’t worry. What we lack in alcoholic drinks, we make up for in desserts!”)
Instead, we’ve found our drinks of choice. “Can we have a bottle of the San Pellegrino with fresh limes?” (It’s a fancy sparkling water.) Y’all this drink in a tall, pretty water glass is amazing! And we feel like we’re partaking in fancy drinks at a nice restaurant!
This may sound like a silly thing, but it makes all the difference in the world for the experience. Whatever helps us create lasting memories and have a good time with our lifestyle is worth it to me. No matter how silly it may seem to anyone else.