What it means, benefits and tips for living sober
If you’re wondering about the role alcohol plays in your life, you might be curious about what it’s like to lead a “sober life” without alcohol.
There are many reasons why you might want to avoid alcohol. Whether it’s to improve your physical health or your state of mind, it can be beneficial to explore the role that alcohol plays in your life.
Drinking alcohol in moderation may be fine for some people, but alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder can lead to health problems and personal and professional problems.
Many aspects of some cultures revolve around alcohol – networking events, date nights, champagne toasts – so it’s not always easy to avoid alcohol altogether.
Sober and curious people may not intend to completely give up alcohol, but may want to stop it for a short time to see if limiting their drinking or becoming completely sober in the future would benefit their way of life.
Being “sober curious” means you wonder about how alcohol affects you, for example:
- why do you drink
- how do you feel when you drink
- what would happen if you reduced your alcohol intake or stopped drinking altogether
Those who are “sober“Don’t drink at all. Some people who don’t drink alcohol have made a conscious decision to eliminate alcohol from their lives, sometimes with the help of a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Being sober curious, however, means you wonder if a sober lifestyle is right for you.
“Those who are sober and curious wonder about the role alcohol plays in their lives and when and why they drink,” says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, neuropsychologist and director of comprehensive psychological counseling services at New York.
“The curious sober movement has gotten people to see the unhealthy habits that can go hand in hand with alcohol consumption,” she says.
The sober and curious movement has gained momentum recently, such as with the rise of interest in “dry January” – a time when participants decide not to drink during the month of January.
“Months like these give sober and curious people the chance to live an alcohol-free life and try it out and see how they feel without having to make a long-term commitment to themselves or others. in a more formal way, which can be scary for them. people,” Hafeez says.
Stopping alcohol consumption for even 1 month can have immediate physical effects. According to Hafeez, these include:
- lower blood pressure
- Better sleep
- better insulin resistance
- lighter skin
- increase in energy
When you remove alcohol from your life for a set period of time, you can better understand the role it plays in your life and its importance to you.
- When you have dinner with friends, do you fancy a drink?
- Are you more anxious about attending social events without it?
- Do you say “no” to invitations to events because there will be no alcohol available?
- Are you having less fun doing the same things you used to, but doing them sober?
“Those in a healthy relationship with alcohol generally have a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude, and their ability to have an enjoyable, relaxing time or participate in events will not depend on whether or not they are able to drink” , says Hafeez. “Being sober and curious gives you a chance to assess your relationship with alcohol and get help if you feel you need it.”
So, are you feeling sober curious? If you want to give it a try, consider starting with these tips:
Ask yourself how you consume alcohol
Under certain conditions, alcohol can negatively affect our body and our personal relationships. However, in today’s culture, alcohol consumption is often encouraged in social settings, which can lead to becoming addicted to it and, in some cases, depending on it. Being sober and curious can help you better understand how you relate to alcohol.
“It involves wondering if you’re using it to numb yourself emotionally, experimenting with whether you can stay socially connected without it, whether your sleep quality changes, and several other useful discoveries about yourself,” says Daniel Hochman, MD, board-certified psychiatrist and creator. from the online addiction recovery program SelfRecovery.org.
“Most people find more power in themselves as they become confident in coping with stress, sleep, and social situations without relying on alcohol,” he says.
Before you quit drinking altogether, try taking a moment or two to reflect on how your relationship with alcohol has changed over the years and where it is today.
It can also help gauge the impact of alcohol consumption on the things you value in life.
For example, if you enjoy being an efficient and helpful employee at work, how can alcohol prevent you from doing so? You may notice that alcohol negatively affects your sleep and leads to fatigue the next day, which impacts your work performance.
Control your environment
“Stay away from alcohol-only events or places, like going to a bar and hanging out,” says Hafeez.
If you are invited to a bar or restaurant for a social gathering and want to take this approach to being sober and curious, try to only attend events in places where there is no alcohol.‘t the main objective.
Exercise increases endorphins, which are the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain. It can be a good substitute for the endorphin release caused by alcohol consumption.
“Exercise will boost mood and decrease anxiety and depression. It’s also a great way to meet people in a sober environment,” says Hafeez.
Exercise can take many forms – from an aerobics class to yoga to a walk around the block. If you want to incorporate more exercise into your life, you can search for classes in your neighborhood or at a nearby gym, or just call a friend and go for a walk in a local park.
Find a new hobby
You can try replacing the time you spent around alcohol with an activity you’ve never tried before. This may include:
- practice a new sport
- learn a new trade
- take a language course
“The goal is not to isolate and socialize in environments where there is no temptation to drink because alcohol is not served or not part of the equation,” explains hafeez.
The most useful activities are often those that you know bring meaning, enjoyment, or a sense of mastery. These help improve mood and take your focus away from cravings.
New hobbies can be more effective when you’ve never tried them before, but have been interested in trying them and think they will be enjoyable or meaningful.
Reduce time spent with drinking friends
Hanging out with friends who drink alcohol in large quantities can increase the likelihood that you will feel pressured to drink as well. Consider taking a break from friends who might, whether they like it or not, encourage you to drink socially.
“If you want to maintain the friendship, go see a movie or do an activity with them that doesn’t involve alcohol,” says Hafeez.
Surround yourself with people who support you
Be selective about who you spend time with during this transition. Try to spend more time with people you trust to respect your decision to cut down or eliminate your drinking, rather than people who will judge or pressure you.
“If you’re just under pressure, there can be some tough choices to make about your peer group,” Hochman says.
Practice “urge surfing”
Crash surfing can be a useful approach to practicing the skill of tolerating food cravings. To try to ride the craving when a craving arises, take a moment to acknowledge the craving and let it pass over you.
“Gaining experience by letting go of desires,” says Hochman. “Ultimately, anyone trying to fully control their drinking needs to learn what drives them to do so. When you explore and address your underlying psychological and emotional distress, you can gain mastery far beyond Alcohol consumption.
The next time you fancy a drink, you can give it a try and see if that helps.
If you want to explore your relationship with alcohol, it can be helpful to cut it out and note any changes in your life caused by its elimination.
Stopping alcohol consumption has many benefits, such as:
- lower blood pressure
- increase in energy
- Better sleep
If you hope to try a sober and curious lifestyle, itIt’s a good idea to start by replacing alcohol-focused activities with a new hobby or exercise, or spending more time with friends and family that you know will be supportive. your decision.
In a society where so many social events revolve around drinking, it can be hard to say “no” when friends ask you to join them at a bar. But if you’re sober and curious, you can remember that there are plenty of ways to socialize without drinking, like going to the movies or playing sports.
Before you start trying sobriety, surround yourself with people who will support you and take your decision seriously. You may also want to settle in with a little support before embarking on your sober and curious journey. To do this, you can:
And remember: if you don’t achieve any goals you might set for yourself, no worries! The point of being sober curious is to explore if you can benefit from sobriety. your havendid not fail if you docan’t make it to the end of Dry January without a drink. WhatThe most important thing is to gain a better understanding of yourself and your relationship with alcohol.