Handling the Bad Days Sober
Some days it seems like it doesn’t pay to get out of bed. You may have a series of small things go wrong, leaving you on edge. The car won’t start, your boss seems to have it in for you and you got in a fight with your significant other. You may find yourself reacting to little things—like several days of bad weather—or to big things—like a car accident or the death of a loved one. You may feel like your friends aren’t there for you, or like your life continually disappoints you.
Whatever unpleasant experiences you have had, the result is the same. You feel unhappy or agitated or uncomfortable in your own skin. You may or may not feel the urge to pick up a drink or a drug. As an alcoholic or an addict, you probably have a history of picking up a drink or a drug when life isn’t going your way, so even if you aren’t conscious of any kind of craving, you may be at risk for a relapse.
The question isn’t if you will have bad days sober, it’s when. Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you’ll be exempt from being dealt a bad hand now and then, and it doesn’t mean life will always be smooth sailing.
Will you know what to do on the bad days? Here are some things to remind yourself to do when life isn’t quite going your way.
Tips for Handling the Bad Days Sober
- Ask for help. Tell someone you are feeling off-balance, or call someone so that you can talk about what is bothering you. People won’t know you’re hurting or in trouble unless you tell them. Let someone know you’re in pain.
- Go to a meeting. Going to a meeting is a great way to remind yourself that you aren’t alone. Being in the company of others who are in recovery can help to shift your mood and stop you from focusing on yourself and your problems, and you may end up hearing exactly what you need to hear to get past your negativity.
- Make a gratitude list. On the worst of days, there is always something to be grateful for. Take the time to write down everything and everyone you are grateful for. If you have just one friend, that is something to be grateful for. The fact that you found your way to recovery and didn’t pick up today are other reasons to be grateful. Be grateful for your health, your job and the roof over your head. You can even learn to be grateful for your problems and challenges that have made you who you are.
- Feel your feelings. It doesn’t help to pretend that you aren’t angry or sad or irritated. Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Write them down in a journal or call your sponsor. But don’t stuff your feelings and try to act like they aren’t there. You may be able to postpone negative feelings, but you won’t be able to avoid them forever.
- Get physically active. Physical activity is one of the healthiest ways to alter a negative mood. The type of physical activity you choose doesn’t matter. You can go for a long walk around the neighborhood, ride a bike or go for a swim. You can take up tennis, dancing or jogging. Anything that gets you moving can help lift your spirits.
- Help others. Instead of wallowing in sadness, can you think of someone who might need your help? A newcomer with less sobriety than you may appreciate a ride to a meeting or having someone to talk to. An elderly neighbor might be happy if you mowed her lawn or brought her a meal. Who can you help today?
- Hang on. Whether you are experiencing a major problem or are just feeling very reactive to a series of small problems, the most important thing you can do is to hang in there. Remember that you only need to live one day at a time. Whatever you’re going through will pass, and tomorrow is a new day. Your worst day sober is still better than your best day drunk.
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