Things I work on in recovery…

yoga tile

These are some of the things that I do to ‘work’ at my recovery, the things that keep me happily sober, the day-in-day out way that I look after my sober self and those around me (which feeds back to me of course). I got worried after I wrote this that I am sounding like a perfectly perfect saint who does everything just right and is bloody perfect! Believe me I’m not!!! But this is what I try to focus on and aim for, and when I put energy into these things (and of course never drink alcohol!) then I am a happier version of myself.

#1 Exercise. I’m not a natural exercise person but I figured out some years ago that I feel immeasurably better when it is implemented in my life. I have a gym membership and go 2-3 times a week when I can. I walk the dog most days and go to a yoga class once a week. When I stop any of these things for a length of time I start suffering physically and mentally, so I don’t ever let that happen for too long.

#2 Diet. 95% of the time I live wheat/sugar free. I struggle with these foods and it’s definitely related to my drinking problem.  I respond to these foods in a very ‘alcoholic’ fashion and can easily fall into a cravings/binging/regret cycle with them, so with the help of the Bright Line Eating programme I cut them out last year. I feel sooooooo much better (lighter and cleaner and mentally free) when I don’t eat bread, pasta, biscuits, muffins or cakes. Or fudge. Or crackers. Or chocolate. Or coconut ice. You get the picture.

#3 Mental Health. I think I’m a naturally optimistic/upbeat person but having avoided negative emotions for 20+ years (with the help of booze of course) I’m now having to accept and live with the rough phases of my mind. Sadness/anger/stress/frustration/disappointment, these feelings arrive more often and sometimes hang around for a while. Over the past couple of years I’ve learned a great deal about mindfulness and use those techniques regularly to quiet my mind and keep me grounded. I’m also trying to simply accept these feelings as gifts, because they teach me so much, and make up the fabric of a rich, full, and sober life.

#4 Entertainment. Radio, TV, pop music and books… these are the things that make me happy. I have the stereo in my car tuned to 5 different radio stations so I can always find something fun to groove to, I have my iPhone loaded with favourite tunes that I plug into my kitchen speakers and listen to when I’m cooking, and I listen to a news station on the radio in the kitchen as well. I watch a lot of Reality TV (I am an unashamed fan of junk TV!) and some drama series and documentaries, and I read novels and non-fiction when I can. Call them distractions but I love all these things and they keep my life full and rich.

#5 Sober Treats. I buy myself fresh flowers and treaty non-alcoholic drinks. I also treat myself to nice scented candles, face creams, bath oils and fancy teas (when our household budget allows it). I never feel bad about the cost of these items ($$$ saved not buying wine!!). These items things are important to me and I am very conscious when buying them that they are ‘sober treats’ i.e. little gifts sending myself a message that I’m proud of myself for being sober.

#6 Friends and Family. I think of the people around me as precious jewels and I try to be kind and generous to them always. I try to stay in touch with what’s going on for my family members and work on staying in contact with those that live out-of-town. I relish my girlfriends and take every opportunity to see them and share honestly about what is going on with me and listen properly to what is going on for them. I work hard at my job mothering our three sons and try hard to do a good job, and I appreciate and love my husband a huge amount and try to be a good wife to him. I’m not a saint, sometimes I’m probably self absorbed and not achieving my upmost with family and friends but I aim to be the best I can be because it makes me feel good and is hopefully nice for them in return.

Please chime in below with what you do to work at your recovery, things you do and actions you take to keep your sober self happy and content. Everyone’s likes and dislikes are different, but by sharing what works for us we can all get ideas and make each other stronger.

Love, Mrs D xxx

  1. Carolmary 6 years ago

    I am almost a year sober after being given 5 days to live from liver failure. If I hadn’t got sick I think I would have still been drinking. But life is so different now. I attend women’s group Monday : computer course Tuesday : A&D workshop Wednesday :gym Thursday. Other times I catch up with friends for coffee. I plan my day even down to what I’m gonna be doing in an hour. Afternoons I usually play my Criminal Case game n catch up on Facebook. I find joy in cleaning my house, having a clean bed. I involve myself in stuff that I would never have done. My creativity has returned and my sense of being
    I now have a problem that my partner still drinks n smokes dope. I am trying to deal with it by empowering myself but sometimes it is very hard .

  2. Paulina 6 years ago

    Thank you for this Dave H. It helps so much.

  3. Mari135 6 years ago

    Love this ….and can relate to it a lot. Just yesterday I was feeling bloated, blah, and boring and bored….and then sad. And almost skipped the gym…when I caught myself on time and realized: “Even just walking at a normal pace at the gym on the track would help. Just go!” And….it did help…and I ended up walking for almost an hour…then Finnish sauna….felt 90% better right there….


    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Tom4500 6 years ago

    I’m only a year and a half AF, and life, as a result, is still changing. New feelings are still coming to me, so I have a ready supply of things to work on that are ever changing. Sort of “I don’t need to look for work, I already have jobs”. Lol. It is fun to sort of “step outside of myself” and smile at what I’m going through. Recently I’ve noticed improvements in my general mood, and as a result improvements in relationships with those I know and those I meet. How cool is that. I like to stay busy, most of the time. That’s sort of a funny statement in itself. But now that there is this new, wonderful AF life, I feel it’s important to put it to good use. Doesn’t that sound like I need justification for stopping drinking? It isn’t. People who never drank should feel the same way. And now, I can join them. It’s not easy to get an old man excited, but just look at me. Enough about me though, hope you are all doing well.

    • Mari135 6 years ago

      Tom4500, I can so relate to improvement in relationships…..same here. Sharing the excitement right alongside you there!! Woot woot! oxoxoxo

  5. Anonymous 6 years ago

    Thank you so much
    This speaks volumes to me. I’m 6 days into my attempt at sobriety. Your words are ones to live by. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous 6 years ago

    I can relate, I was sober for 4 years and felt great.
    Then came the relaps. So many reasons, so many rememedies but for me AA and the 12 steps are the answer. Not only for stopping drinking but for helping understand the disease and control the committee of idiots that convene frequently in my head instead of letting them control me

  7. lilibet 6 years ago

    I was sober for 2 years and then thought I could moderate – I spent a year slipping back down that greasy pole of addiction so I joined this welcoming community and I am now 9 days AF. In my sobriety I frequently remind myself of a number of things: –
    I did not choose my parents, my country of birth, my gender, the time I was born etc but I can be responsible for this piece of life that is me and aim to be responsible for how I treat and effect those around me.

    I remind myself that lifes’ ups and downs, whether in the form of events or other people, are things not to be avoided but rather it is how I respond to these things that allows me to navigate life. Reminding myself that authentic responding can only be done with a clear sober head.

    Reminding myself to slow down – my garden, house and business cannot all be in order at the same time ever and why should they be. I remind myself that they are always at their best when I am AF.

    Reminding myself that the real beauty and thrill of life ( for me) is always there if I look, really look and listen, whether it is a song, flowers, books, people, animals, landscapes, etc.

    Reminding myself that It is ok to spend time listening to discussions on YouTube: Sam Harris podcast is a new found joy. Eckhart Tolle talks help me be mindful. Richard Feynman Lectures excite my inner geek, Madonna videos when I want to dance around my room in a bid to keep fit. Gardening presentations, cooking demonstrations ( tried some simple Korean dishes recently) to mix it up and try new things just for the fun of it.

    I remind myself that I am not alone ( knowing this site is here even if it is just to read others comments is bloody fanatastic)

    I remind myself that irrespective of anything I am always always going to get more out of life if I am AF.

    • sobermommy1013 6 years ago

      This is excellent….Thank you for this insight.

  8. IslandOne 6 years ago

    Early morning runs for me, daily messages to family members that I hadn’t been in touch with before, being selective about the kind of events that I go to, sensible snacks, complicated plot-oriented TV shows, online learning, complex books, attention to the beauty in the world, a little simple meditation, yoga, kindness to others.

    • Mari135 6 years ago

      Love this list, IslandOne!! oxoxo

  9. DaveH 6 years ago

    Things I work on in recovery.

    There are three distinct tricks to pull off in recovery. 1. Getting sober. 2. Becoming well, and 3. Staying well. Getting sober is only the start; the extent of my recovery isn’t measured by the number of days since my last drink, but by my mental wellness. It is this that I work on. If I am content with myself and my place in the world then there is nothing to draw me back to drinking; it gives me nothing I lack. Here are some of the things that I do to achieve that.

    1. Change what should be changed and accept what can’t be changed. This gradually improves my position in life and stops me accumulating pointless distress. If something SHOULD be changed (my conscience is the guide for this) then I must do something towards making it change. I don’t have to fully resolve or complete whatever it is in one step, I just need to advance towards the problem. I have to accept the things I don’t like that lie outside my sphere of control to change. This lowers the stresses of living in an unpredictable and sometimes unfair world. But I have to be certain to choose correctly. Struggling to change something beyond my control, or trying to accept something that should be changed merely perpetuates the problem.
    2. I don’t allow myself to dwell in the past or the future. Today and now is where my challenges are. “It’s ok to look at the past, but don’t stare”. I have quite a catalogue of things I regret but I have resolved them all as best I can; there is no benefit in looking at them further, it only brings anger, shame, guilt, resentment etc. I don’t allow myself to revisit a list of things from my past that I know will bring me down. If I spend too long looking at the future then I wander into fantasy that will never come to fruition or bleakness that seems inevitable. An old man once said “I’ve seen a lot of trouble in my life, most of which never happened.”… That’s how it is if I let my head wander into the future. I can make plans for the future, but not visualize the achievement of them; it will only bring frustration and disappointment.
    3. Apologise immediately when I’m wrong. This stops me making bigger problems I have to try and fix up later. If I delay apologising then positions polarize. I justify my position, they justify theirs and soon it’s hard for me to apologise and hard for them to accept it. I can prevent an issue escalating by apologising straight away.
    4. Deliberately reduce time alone. My head is a dangerous place, and I dive right into if I spend too long alone.
    5. If I am invited to a social occasion then I accept immediately… and worry about it later. The thought of socialising intimidates me, but once there I’m always fine.
    6. Do things to help other people. This gives an enduring counter to feeling worthless… It makes it disappear. Helping someone else stops me thinking about my own problems and makes me focus on someone else.
    7. I routinely check myself. If I’m feeling off then I check that it’s off for a proper reason or if it’s off because I’ve stopped doing something I should be doing (or started doing something I shouldn’t). My most likely reason for not feeling right is that I’m trying to control aspects of my life that are beyond my capacity to change. I have some warning signs. If I find myself avoiding people then I need to concentrate more on the things I’m doing. If a get a drinking dream, then I need to do something immediately. There’s an escalation sequence. 1. Get somewhere where I’m forced to be sociable. 2. Talk to another alcoholic. 3. Go and help someone.

    • welshgal 6 years ago

      These are amazing strategies @daveh – i need to be using some of these to manage how i’m feeling – struggling massively at the moment 🙁

    • Mari135 6 years ago

      Love this so much, DaveH!!! Thanks heaps for sharing this. I love reading your posts on this forum and always take away a lot of amazing insights from them. oxoxoxo

    • bob.k 6 years ago

      Hi DaveH I like what you have written.

    • sobermommy1013 6 years ago

      @daveh – i love this list just as much as i love @mrs-d. Thank you both for such wonderful insight. This group never ceases to amaze me.

    • reena 6 years ago

      Dave this is such a good list! Thank you so much. Many I do but didn’t even realize it as sober time has increased I notice myself doing these things more instinctively. @daveh

  10. reena 6 years ago

    I love your ideas in healing the damages and in working on keeping healthy in mind, body and spirit @MrsD. The last two years I have slowing begun to care for myself again in a deep way. I have taken the booze money, so not just liquor store weekend money but also the money spent out at nice places for multiple glasses of wine and put it toward things that make me feel good. I have a message therapist I got to regularly and its amazing and restorative to my body and mind. I am trying acupuncture to heal the inside damage and restore some of my metabolism and things drinking and menopause have taken a toll on. I read sober material every day, I enjoy it and it convinces me I am on the right track. I go to bed and have trained myself out of my lifelong insomnia. I used benadryl at first to get to sleep, now I don’t need it. I try to get 7=8hrs sleep or rest. I never did that before, try to rest. I do food prep for work, I never had time for that before, now I bring good food to work with me so I can stay eating healthy on my most stressful days. I keep AF drinks on hand all the time, I take my own with me to events too. I log on to LS and read, everyday as the stories, hope, love and support have been a beacon to me in my lowest moments. I look to you and think “if she can do it, so can I, she looks happy, I want what she has”. Thanks MrsD.

  11. Katie 6 years ago

    Im with you on the sugar and wheat and feel so much more in control living without it

  12. grannie 6 years ago

    Thanks for post
    I have just fallen into the sugar/wheat trap again and need to stop. Same patterns happening again as when I drank wine. I am off to Berlin again next week to be with grandchildren and two birthday parties. I am going to have to swop addiction again for exercise

  13. Liberty 6 years ago

    All of those things to some degree. Mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, spiritual wellbeing, social wellbeing; they are all interconnected & important.
    Self-acceptance, self-compassion; those things are my wellspring. Ths hardest to give myself at times.
    Time with animals & in the garden/in nature reminds me I am a mammal & enough as I am, & I can just be. xxx

    • robynb 6 years ago

      This comes at a heartbreaking time for me, as my family’s riddled with addiction in different forms, and I have lost both my brother and my nephew due to substance abuse related things. My daughter (adopted) has lost her dad and brother within the past year. What I do to maintain my sober life is exercise and also have begun pursuing, or pursuing more passionately my love of upcycling and improving my house. I have been on this journey for almost 600 days. I have many more things I wish to expand on. I find that leaving the booze and weed behind has allowed me to make huge strides in my personal development..But I can also see I still have lots to do. I have begun a business and will be adding to that in the next few months. I encourage everyone to give this not drinking stuff a try. You will be amazed at how your life will grow.

      • ClarityandPeace 6 years ago

        Dear Robyn, I’m so sorry for the sadness in your family. And I’m so happy you are sober and mindful through it. By supporting yourself, you are able to prove to yourself that you can walk through life with humanity and grace, and I can’t imagine the wildly profound gift your presence is to your family vs what it would be if you checked out with alcohol. Many congratulations on your self-care and presence for your life, such as it is in this moment. And thank you for sharing – it helps me a lot. This too shall pass, yes?

      • robynb 6 years ago

        I meant to say have recently( since January) lost my brother and nephew.

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