The challenges come thick and fast at the start of the year and for thousands of us up and down the country, the first one on the agenda is dry January. We’ve come to an end of that, and for those that have been successful, there are two options – get a huge bottle of fizz to celebrate, or maintain that sobriety.
While going sober for a month is an incredible achievement, maintaining it over a longer period can be tough, but if you ask the many people who have been through alcohol rehab, it’s also incredibly worthwhile, completely transforming lives.
But how exactly can you maintain sobriety over several months or years? Well, there are a number of strategies you can put in place to help you on that journey.
Set Clear Goals
Firstly, just as is the case of getting through one month, establishing clear goals is important. Turn one month into a month and a week, then into two months and so on. It can be really valuable breaking down aims into bitesize chunks to make them more realistic and manageable.
There are apps out there that can help with this, such as I Am Sober, which help you track sobriety and provide you with the mental clarity to push on.
Create a Support System
You can typically get through a month without support in place, or the support you have knows it’s only a temporary measure during the likes of dry January. However, if you’re going to maintain sobriety you need a solid support system in place.
That could be from friends and family, it could be online, with many sobriety communities on social media and across forums such as Reddit, while offline support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can provide you with a network that can help even during difficult periods of maintaining sobriety.
If you find this difficult, help from healthcare professionals and rehabilitation centres are also a good step in gaining the tools to be able to manage sobriety more effectively and get the help you do actually need.
Plan Alternative Activities
Many people just get their heads down in January and avoid alcohol. It’s a much easier task during a month when everybody’s a bit skint and there are only so many social activities that can be avoided.
However, you can’t avoid social activities all year, with birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas to get through. What you can do is adapt the things you do during those periods. Look for activities that don’t involve alcohol. It can really broaden a person’s horizons and even provide new hobbies and interests you’ll love for life.
Explore Non-Alcoholic Alternatives
Naturally, a good pathway to continue on is keep up with the non-alcoholic alternatives you may have been enjoying. The non-alcoholic beer and wine scene is exciting right now, with lots of options available in pubs, bars and restaurants. If you’ve avoided going out throughout January and are now starting to socialise outside of the home again, this is an option worth considering alongside alternate activities.
Practice mindfulness and focus on health and wellbeing
Finally, use this period of time to prioritise your health and wellbeing. Embrace a healthy and balanced diet, exercise regularly and make sure you get a solid night’s sleep and regular sleeping pattern.
Activities such as yoga and meditation can be really helpful in this and promote a sense of calm, relieving stress and increasing focus which can be spent on enjoying life, and a sober one at that.
Of course, it isn’t always as simple as just giving up, and if you need help there are plenty of options out there for seeking rehabilitation for addiction, from NHS opportunities through to private rehabs that are with you every step of the way.