One of the things I’ve learned about myself in my sober-ish journey over the last (almost) year is that the hardest times for me to say no to a drink is when I’ve had a tough day and the kids are both melting down and I’m trying to make dinner for everyone and I am on sensory overload. It’s so easy in those moments to pour a glass of wine and immediately feel calmer and able to handle whatever the night throws at me.
But I also notice that within an hour, one of two things happens: 1. I have another glass to keep the feeling going which results in a hangover the next morning, or 2. I stop at one glass and then feel worse than before with a mild headache that night.
So I’ve tried to replace the stress wine with other coping mechanisms for the dinner rush and any stressful situation with a few alternatives. And let me tell you, I’ve never ever not once ever regretted skipping that drink! In fact, the next morning I thank my day-younger self for making that decision and I usually feel proud of it.
Sometimes I do one of these little tricks, sometimes I do more than one, and sometimes I do all 5. And sometimes none of them work and I have a drink anyway. All of the outcomes are ok!
1. Micro breaks: This only works if you have a partner who is on-board with it. Anel fully supports micro-breaks when I’m about to fall down an anxiety rabbit-hole, and it is beyond helpful. When I say micro I mean really micro. It can be 3 minutes. I’ll go upstairs or outside, set a timer and take a few deep breaths to get my head back in the game. Sometimes he needs these too and obviously I support him in those. It can be annoying when two kids are melting down and your partner wants to walk away but in the long run we’ve both learned that it’s worth it because the other person comes back more grounded, centered, and ready to parent in a healthier way.
My example is with kids but if your stressors are somewhere else like if you’re working from home late one night, hanging out with family members who trigger you, or really doing anything when it’s safe to step away, micro breaks are a fantastic way to re-center.
2. CBD: I know I know I know. I never shut up about CBD but it really helps so much and the effect is almost immediate. Unlike with THC, CBD has a calming effect without any “drug” effects. When I take it, I don’t feel out of it or dizzy or… well… anything really. Just a notch or two calmer. I take a dropper full of Equilibria Daily Drops under my tongue when I feel the stress or anxiety coming on and 9 times out of 10 it does the trick. I started out with half a dropper but after a few months, I upped it to a full one.
I also love Jeng CBD drinks or, if you really want to get nuts, the CBD + THC drinks. My code LEMONSTRIPES20 still works for 20% off.
3. Body to head trick: I don’t know what to call this one so bear with me here. One thing I’ve learned in therapy is that when your mind is running like crazy and you’re feeling stressed or anxious, the most effective way out of it is starting with your body then moving to your head. Let me explain…
I start by moving my body. This can mean going for a walk or run or exercising when you have time, but in these moments for me it often means 10 jumping jacks or 20 sit ups or something else that looks absolutely insane in the moment. That small, quick act moves the anxious energy out of my body.
Next, I take 2 to 3 deep belly breaths with one hand over my heart and the other hand over my belly. I put slight pressure on each hand and then breathe slowly and deliberately in through my nose and out through my mouth. After the burst of exercise, this brings me back to center.
Once my body feels calmer, I’m able to intellectualize my feelings a little bit better. When your body is in that flight or flight response, it’s hard to rationalize anything, but once it’s calm, it feels a whole lot easier. Shout out to my therapist for teaching me this one!
4. Pour a mocktail: Sometimes just the act of doing a small thing for yourself can make a big difference. Throw on your favorite song, pour a fizzy seltzer or canned mocktail over ice and treat yourself for a second.
5. Power clean: I am a little bit insane when it comes to cleaning and organizing, I’ll fully admit it. But sometimes I just need to get away from a screen or a kid or a situation and clean out a drawer. As I’m typing this, I realize it sounds bonkers but I swear the act of focusing on that helps me get out of my head and into something else. Or even just vacuuming the house. It’s physical, it’s mindless, and I feel like I’m accomplishing something. Some other things I like to do is re-design a shelf or fluff all the pillows on the couch.