Life Story, Sobriety Secrets

Recovery Toolbox: How to Survive a Bad Day



What do you do when you’ve had a bad day? At one point in my life I got a bottle of wine, popped the cork, downed that one before leaving the kitchen, popped another one and had it half gone before I sat down, only to stumble to the store to get more once the second bottle was gone. You would’ve thought that I would have figured out that two bottles a night was never enough to drown out my bad day. In fact, in the end, there wasn’t enough bottles of wine or beer in the cooler to let me escape from the pathetic web I had managed to get tangled up in. Every day was a bad day.

So now that I’ve put all the bottles away and there are no more late-night alcohol runs, where do I turn when I’ve had a bad day? Today is much different. I get to deal with the reality that faces me every single moment. Some days that can get tough – still. But today I do it sober. I am not saying that like I get to wear some badge of honor, or that I have some miracle cure that I’m about to let you in on. It isn’t a secret. I just don’t drink for today.

That is the key part of how I make it through a bad day. I don’t drink. But it isn’t the only thing that I do today to make sure I make it through another day sober when the going gets rough. Along the way I have learned valuable tools that I get to use today to help alleviate any suffering, no matter how great or how small it may be, that I might be going through. Here are some of my tools I have in my toolbox today:

1.     Prayer – I use this at any time, anywhere, for any reason – good or bad.

2.     Mantra’s – I use these by repeating them over and over to get my head out of a tailspin.

3.     The telephone – I use this to reach out to others so I don’t isolate and have to feel so alone.

4.     Meetings – I attend those so I can get outside of myself and help someone else. Their problems help me to forget mine for the moment.

5.     Exercise – I try to do this regularly to keep any depression at bay. It is proven scientifically that it does increase endorphins and dopamine levels – thereby increasing happiness.

6.     Regular sleep – This is crucial for me, as I need to be able to think clearly. Everything can magnify itself when I am lacking sleep. Well rested, I make better decisions and am more rational.

7.     Seek outside help – if necessary, and there are problems beyond the scope of my traditional methods of recovery, I humble myself I seek someone who specializes in what I need.

8.     Nurture friendships – This is necessary in order to keep myself accountable to people who know me, and also to have a network of people who can support me when I can’t support myself. Plus, they add fun to my life.

9.     Hobbies – I have found once I got sober that I had things that I liked to do and brought me joy and contentment. These hobbies are a form of meditation at time because I can get lost for hours in them.

10.  Meditation – Learning to quiet my mind has been the hardest task yet. It is not easy for most, but certainly not for a newcomer. However, when done regularly it brings peace and serenity. I can handle bad days with more finesse.

11.  Self-care – This has been the hardest learning curve for me. It took Al anon to teach me how to care for myself. Taking time for myself each day, stopping the world for me (whatever that looks like) is essential for my survival. Hot baths, walks, reading or writing, movies or making a dinner for myself are just some of the gifts I give to myself – up to taking vacations with myself. I learn how to enjoy “me” time.

12.   Eating properly – Let’s not forget that proper nutrition and vitamins are a staple to a healthy mindset (but indulgence in your favorite treat is nice too at times).

All of these components are basically simple habits that I practice daily to help me navigate bad days. There is much more that I have learned along the way, but these are the simple tools that I find right-size me when I feel like I may be falling off the beam.

I don’t practice them perfectly but I practice them. Some days are harder than others to remember the tricks that have helped me through some very difficult times. I have made a list that I can refer to during those times. I think that after writing this, I just might write them down and put them up where I can see them regularly. Perhaps I’ll put them on my bathroom mirror. Perhaps I’ll put them on my desk at work. Or, perhaps I’ll put them on my dashboard in my car. Heck, I can even put them as my screensaver on my telephone. There are many ways to make sure that I am able to remind myself of the healthy choices I can make today.

This has been therapeutic for me to write this all down. I am so grateful today for the chance to be able to write on a regular basis and put it out there for all the world to enjoy and possibly benefit from. Thank you for the opportunity to be of service to you and to myself.

~ Tami Harper Winn ~

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