Message of the day

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking. - Albert Einstein
~...

Need Help? A Drinking Problem Coach Can Teach You How to Overcome Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Addiction is a mental and physical problem. You are making the right decision when you decide to overcome your alcohol addiction; however, keep in mind that overcoming alcohol addiction alone is not an easy task. Luckily, the task can be easier with the aid of a drinking problem coach. You should consider getting a drinking problem coach.

A drinking problem coach can teach you how to overcome your alcohol addiction safely. If you attempt to tackle your addiction alone, you run the risk of experiencing dangerous and possibly fatal side effects,such as sudden alcohol withdrawal, which can put your body in shock and cause seizures. A coach can help avoid such an outcome by providing safe and effective tips for overcoming your alcohol addiction. Furthermore, a coach can provide ongoing motivational and emotional support. Just knowing that someone believes in you can motivate you to stay on the right track towards recovery. Plus, having someone who is there to lend an ear to your day-to-day problems can reduce negative thoughts that may hinder your progress.

To defeat your addiction, conquer your demands and improve your chances for long-term recovery success you should definitely consider hiring a quitting alcohol addiction coach. There are a number of well-trained, experienced drinking problem coaches just waiting to offer help. Ideally, the coach that you do choose should be able to provide emotional and motivation support on a daily basis. Unfortunately, as with all professions, there are lackluster addiction coaches. You want to avoid those coaches, even if they are free. You don’t want a coach who wastes your time. One bad experience may be enough to discourage you from seeking professional help elsewhere, but it is important to not give up on all coaches. Keep trying different coaches until you find one that suits your needs.

Making a Decision – First Step to Quit Drinking

ʽʽ Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

- W. H. Murray, from The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)

What does it mean to make a decision? A decision is a commitment. It is diving into the now, this moment, the moment that you have right now at this very instant. There is no shadowy future date that awaits your decision because there is no power in tomorrow. A decision requires boldness and that fist pumping exhilaration of Yes, I will!

If you hesitate all is lost. If you start a sentence with “but”, or if you try explaining “I can’t because”, you are doomed. We who have addictions are undisciplined, fearful, and indecisive. We are a slave to our addictions. But in that moment of decision, we hold freedom in the palm of our hands. We just know we can do what we decide. We know that we have all the answers inside of us.

Deciding can change the path you are on in an instant. So be bold, and in this instant- decide. Whatever it is you are struggling with, let it go. Whatever fears you are suppressing, stop playing it safe. Nothing will ever change for you until you make a decision to change.

There is nothing that you can’t do. And in that boldness be the observer. Watch yourself expand and open up to all possibilities. As Murray says, now providence will take over and unforeseen things will occur. If you are in a lonely place, let people into your life that can assist you. No one expects you to do this journey alone. Once you open yourself up to all possibilities your life will be full.

There is only this moment.

In Recovery – Intimate Relationships

When we are inside an addiction, we have an intimate relationship with our substance of choice whether it is alcohol, drugs or food. Or we may have a relationship with an addictive behavior like gambling or shopping. This relationship with an addiction often prevents us from having healthy relationships with the people around us. The addiction isolates us. We can’t seem to connect to people in a healthy way. Too often we might feel that we don’t fit in or we feel lonely and misunderstood. In recovery it is important to replace our intimate relationship with the addiction with healthy relationships.

When I speak of intimacy I am referring to an emotional connection with another person. Even if we can connect with one person, it creates something we can build on. For example, in the television series Grey’s Anatomy the character Cristina is always saying to Meredith, “You are my person.” Cristina has found one person who she can confide in that offers her little or no threat, one person who she can be open and vulnerable with. In turn Meredith has Cristina as “her person”. They share love, mutuality and compassion built on a foundation of respect. They teach each other, learn from each other and trust each other. However, having only one go-to person is not ideal. You can’t get all things from one person, nor should you expect to.

Most people think intimacy is a sexual activity. Sex may be an aspect of intimacy but there are many different forms of intimacy. The relationship between Meredith and Cristina is an intimate relationship, but it doesn’t involve any physical activity. If you think about it, you may have more intimate relationships in your life than you realize.

In their book “The Intimate Marriage”, H.J. Clinebell and C. H. Clinebell describe many types of intimacy. Besides sexual intimacy there is emotional intimacy whereby you share your thoughts and feelings with one another. There is intellectual intimacy when you can share ideas, and learn from each other.

If you enjoy sports you may share an intimate relationship with someone who shares your fitness goals, or enjoys watching competitive events for fun. You may have also have relationships at work that bind you as you share responsibilities and work on common tasks. During times of crisis or conflict you might share closeness with someone who helps you cope. You may have someone close to you who shares a love of beauty, music, or the arts. You may have projects that you co-create with someone and through that process you develop a bond. You may have a spiritual intimacy with someone whom you can share philosophies or religious experiences.

An addiction often takes away our intimate relationships. An alcohol or drug addiction affects our relationships with nearly everyone around us including our family, friends and co-workers. We stop doing many of the activities that we used to do and lose the connections with those people who we shared things with. We even stop doing the things that we are passionate about. One by one our healthy relationships fall to the wayside. Our goal once in recovery is to start getting those relationships back. Some we can repair and some we can’t, but finding a connection to someone who is “on your side” and who you can say, “You are MY person” is a healthy start.

Peer Pressure in Adulthood

Unwittingly, some of us carry around our experiences with peer pressure, from our youth into adulthood. Remember when, in high school for example, there was a constant stream of information telling us how to fit in, how to dress, how to act, and how to become one of the “beautiful people”? Who did not want to be popular and be accepted by our peers?

If we were in the popular crowd, we were fortunate. However, we were conforming to what was expected of us to stay there. If we were not so fortunate, we felt like an outsider and the message became “you are not good enough”.

The peer pressure experienced from our past can echo into our present. Sometimes we go to any length to be accepted and liked, both in our professional and personal lives. After all, we need to hear positive things about ourselves and be recognized and valued. That’s normal. But if our self esteem or confidence has been threatened by some trauma from the past and if we feel that we are not good enough, an addiction can fill that void. Some of us can turn to food, others to gambling, alcohol or drugs. For a little while this works.

When we decide to make changes in our lives, like dealing with an addiction, we often do a mental checklist to be sure that we will still be accepted by our peers. We question whether we will continue to fit in. Our concerns may go something like this: (and you can substitute the word “drinking” with the addiction that you are living with.)

What will people think about me if I quit drinking?

What am I going to say to people when I refuse a drink?

Will people treat me the same way when I stop drinking?

Will people think I have a problem and therefore am weak?

Will people find out that I have an addiction?

Reflections:

1. What are some of the messages about yourself that you received in the past from other people?

2. What are the messages you are receiving from people now?

3. Do you care so much about what others think that it is stopping you from getting well?

4. How much do you want to change?

5. How much do you worry about what others will think?

In Recovery – Benefits of a Recovery Journal

I always wanted to be a writer and during some of my drinking sprees, I would open that second bottle of wine, get out pen and paper and start writing what I thought were very important and life changing revelations. These writings seemed to be in the form of letters. I remember writing long letters to my Father (because I had “Daddy” issues; and because phoning him at that hour of the night wouldn’t win me the kind of attention I wanted). I also wrote letters to my husband (because I had “husband” issues; although I’m only on my third), and I often wrote letters for the benefit of all mankind.

In the morning I would take my sick self downstairs and find my illegible scratching strewn across my desk or under the desk. Sometimes I would find these letters in unexpected places, probably because I wanted them to be my private musings and thought to hide them away. I actually thought that these letters contained brilliant gems of wisdom and that I should keep them for future reference. Ironically, during my alcohol free days, I was absolutely mute. I could not put one word on a piece of paper. This led me further to believe that my real genius only comes out when I am drinking wine in copious amounts.

This was my feeble attempt at starting a personal journal and it was a huge benefit to me. It kept me occupied and stopped me from making embarrassing phone calls in the middle of the night.

There are all types of journals. Some people start travel diaries, bug-list diaries, prayer diaries, confession diaries, weather diaries. Others have companion journals where they write down the private parts of their life. And yes, journals can even be in the form of letters. Take for example the letters written by John Adams to his wife Abigail. They exchanged over 1100 letters which follow their courtship and his political career.

Barnet and Stubbs draw a distinction between a journal and a diary.

“A diary mentions things that have happened; a journal reflects on the happenings. A diary lists appointments; a journal records events, but gives some sense of why they were meaningful.”

If you are trying to overcome an addiction, journal writing is a valuable tool and it will take you far. A recovery journal should contain both types of entries – diary entries where you keep track of your recovery process, document specific tasks that you have completed, follow day to day stats on alcohol consumption or cravings; and it should also contain journal type entries, where you can look at your inner self, where you can reflect, get “stuff” out of your head and attempt to understand the world around you and understand yourself.

I know that it’s scary to look inward, especially for an alcoholic or addict. We often think that inward is where our addiction lives. If we look there we will find only insanity, dark and depraved thoughts, regrets and self hatred. But a recovery journal is a lot different than you might think. A recovery journal is all about new beginnings – a renewal so to speak. It is like having an intimate friend or maybe it is something that you can come home to and settle in with like a great cup of coffee or a fluffy pillow. It is your security blanket.

A recovery journal starts at the beginning of your recovery and follows you until you reach the end. You will want to review past entries to see how much you have grown and remind yourself of the issues that you have tackled and the things that you are still working on.

Here are some ideas that you can start with to get going on your recovery journal. I would recommend dividing the journal into different sections. Some sections will be more like diary entries and other sections more reflective.

My Recovery
This section documents your recovery process. Record when you fall down and when you get up. Record the hurdles you have overcome. Record your drinking levels (if you are stepping down). Record your level of cravings from no cravings to severe. Record tasks and activities you have done during recovery. What worked and what didn’t work.

Questions about Recovery
Most people in recovery have a support system, coach or therapist. Jot down things you don’t understand, or questions that you need answered and ask your coach or counselor at your next session. For e.g. you might want to know how to make a recovery plan, or find out how long your cravings will last, or maybe you want to know why you feel anxious all the time.

Unfinished Business
There is likely to be many things that have been neglected because of your addiction. You may have neglected things in your life such as finances, your home, your family, your job. Tasks have been half done or never started. Now that your family sees that you are sober they put more and more demands on your time. All of this can be overwhelming to say the least. You are just one person and sobriety is your number one job. In this section you can make to-do lists and complete the tasks as you can in order of importance.

Hopes and Dreams
Write down the good things you want for you and your family and your hopes for the future. There is no use dreaming small when you can dream big. After all, this is a confidential journal and no one will read it. You are perfectly safe in writing that you want to be the first woman on mars wearing Chanel in Prada heels.

Feelings and Emotions

During the recovery process, you many experience many different kinds of emotions – both good and bad. This is the brain “off” of drugs. Depression is common when coming off of alcohol. You may get angry easily or become anxious, fearful or jealous. Practice naming your feelings or describing them on paper. If you are angry for e.g., writing it all down is better than lashing out.

Reflections and Musings
Here you may want to include life lessons that you have learned or thoughts about the world around you and how you fit into it. Or you may just want to record a daydream.

These are just a few examples of the things you can put in your recovery journal, but there are hundreds of options. Remember that this journal is a record of your journey. It is just for you and should be kept confidential. Always be honest with yourself and when you are ready to “look inward” add that as another section in your journal. You will find nothing there that you and your journal can’t handle together.

I am sure that you are wondering about my private letters mentioned earlier and if they have survived after all these years for the sake of future humanity. I regret telling you that they were lost in a fire – a bonfire!

Feeling Good Without an Addiction

When a person quits drinking alcohol or tries quitting any kind of addiction one is often left with an empty feeling or a kind of void or black hole; also time – minutes and hours of time to fill that were once taken up by the addiction. I’m not sure which is worse – the depression of the black hole or all that extra time. How to fill that void and fill those hours is a challenge to any recovering addict. If you are successful with this, you will likely be well on your way to recovery – if not, you will probably relapse or replace one addiction with another. For e.g. some may quit drinking but then start to smoke, gamble, or over eat. Some get hooked on addictive medications or pain killers. Some are drawn to dangerous thrill seeking or sex addictions. Notice that the new addiction may be just as destructive as the last. Why do we feel so good (we think) with an addiction and so bad when we stop?

The human brain is an extraordinary organ. It controls everything. It allows us to think, dream, solve problems, and feel emotion. When we drink, eat, or take drugs the brain then releases a chemical called dopamine which then gives us feelings of pleasure. The brain remembers this pleasure and of course wants to experience this over and over again. Let’s use food for example; we eat every day to survive and this is of course more important than any other need. But when someone drinks alcohol, the brain takes on the same need as when you eat, but this need becomes more important than any other need and eventually the addiction is so strong that nothing else matters and instead of getting pleasure from the addiction you end up depending on it just to get through the day.

Naturally we as humans love the way our brain produces the dopamine and gives us pleasure. So when someone quits drinking and doesn`t feel that pleasure anymore it can create other emotions such as sadness, anxiety, stress, and depression. Did you know that we can replace our bad addiction with a healthy one and still feel that pleasure?

Here are a few things that you can do to get that good feeling back plus fill your time with healthy choices:

• Eat healthy. Get involved with grocery shopping and cooking. Foods such as bananas, watermelon, beets, chicken, fish, and cheese help replace depleted nutrients. Most people with an alcohol addiction are malnourished, even though they swear that they eat well. Alcohol inhibits the bodies ability to absorb nutrients. Plus alcohol is full of empty calories.

• Take vitamin supplements. You aren’t going to be able to get all your nutrients from food and being deficient of vitamins and minerals affects your health in profound ways. Alcohol induced deficiencies include Folic Acid, Thiamine, Niacin, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12.

• Supplement Minerals. Magnesium is known to increase dopamine levels. Being deficient in magnesium can lead to anxiety, depression, muscle spasm, tremors and chronic pain. Other mineral deficiencies may include Calcium and Zinc.

• Try Ginko Biloba. Ginko Biloba contains flavonoids known to improve memory and enhance dopamine levels.

• Exercise. Have you ever heard of runners high? Vigorous exercise is a serious mood boost. Find a sport or activity that you enjoy and make it part of your weekly routine.

• Try Green Tea. Green tea contains polyphenols which can increase dopamine levels. Plus green tea is a healthy choice.

• Start a journal. Journaling is a great way to de stress, plus it keeps your thoughts from going round and round in your head. Write down your struggles, your frustrations and resentments, your goals. Journaling keeps you conscious of how you are thinking. If your thinking is getting too negative add a gratitude list to your journal.

• Meditation. Learning meditation is an art, but to keep it simple, find a quiet place and each day sit and be still. Concentrate on your breath going in and out. Try doing this for 10 minutes and then increase the time as you feel comfortable. Your brain will probably jump from one problem to another, but keep at it, and in time meditation will improve concentration and decision making and lower anxiety. If this seems too hard, and you aren’t getting anywhere with it, try Yoga.

• Do something you love. There is no better medicine in the world than being passionate about something. Return to things that you left behind because of your addiction. Get involved in your life and enjoy yourself. Laugh often.

Yes we all miss the high of our addictions. After all, if we weren’t getting something out of them, why keep them up? Stopping an addiction isn’t easy and when our moods plummet to anxiety, worry, depression and fear, it is easy to just go back to what we know. We know the addiction will make us feel better. It is the “feeling” that we want, not all the destructive behaviors that go with it. Unfortunately, chasing that “feeling” results in millions of deaths each year. Try the simple methods above to improve your chances of staying well. If these natural methods don’t work, consult a doctor for medications.

Attaining and Maintaining Change

Change is Not Easy
Whether people participate in the formal rehabilitation process or not, making change is never easy and requires a great deal of effort to attain the desired changes and then maintain them. Sometimes it can take a long time. And maintaining change is a lifelong task.

There are 3 stages of change:
1. Action
2. Maintenance
3. Termination

Action Stage
Making a change can be difficult for people because early action is often not rewarding. Particularly when changing addictive behaviors, there can be “much pain with no apparent gain” as people go through detoxification and experience withdrawal. Having support early on helps. Coaches and councilors can provide support and encouragement to help maintain the two necessary conditions for successful action. A coach will also remind people of the “game plan” (rehabilitation plan) and even adjust the plan to meet changing needs and circumstances. The goal of the action stage is to sustain successful behavior change for a long enough period of time for the person making change to gain some feelings of stability. Once the person has gained some resiliency and self –efficacy they will then move on to the maintenance stage of change.

Maintenance Stage
As the saying goes “getting there is only half the battle.” The maintenance stage is another period where the individual needs to learn new coping methods. Two factors have been identified as fundamental to successful maintenance: sustained, long term effort, and revised lifestyle. Revised Lifestyle is the key factor identifier of the maintenance stage of change. Negative thoughts have to be replaced with positive thoughts; problematic conditions need to be replaced with non-problematic ones. These substitutions promote growth and the development of holistic lifestyle changes- changes that may ultimately become the norm and totally replace the old addiction.

Termination Stage
The termination stage has been described as the ultimate goal for changers. A person who has reduced his level of alcohol consumption to regular involvement, with no associated harms for 10 years, but still avoids an annual fishing trip with his buddies because he is not certain he can resist binge drinking in that situation, has successfully changed, and remains in maintenance.
Research and clinical experience indicate there are four defining criteria between lifetime maintenance and the termination stage:
 A new self-image

 No temptation in any situation

 Solid self confidence

 A healthier lifestyle
When individuals reach the termination stage they are no longer actively involved in changing or maintaining changes around that old behavior. Their work in that area is over and they may look to new challenges and changes.

Always Monitor Change
It is always important to monitor change because work is still necessary in your recovery. Remember that ongoing monitoring of actions and progress/regress is necessary for success. Speak to your coach or councilor about an aftercare plan or methods for self-monitoring.

Can You Successfully Treat Addiction at Home?

Outpatient treatment for addiction is a feasible and often the only solution available for many people.  Rehab facilities aren’t always practical or even affordable. Choosing an outpatient approach is even more practical as we implement new technologies to allow the treatment necessities come into our immediate surroundings. Along with new medications that we have at our disposal today, we can open up choices to enable better success of an outpatient program. A program’s success is more reliant on a person’s commitment and discipline, than it is to the location where treatment is given. While it is never easy to rid oneself of any addiction, whatever manner a person chooses it requires one key element –“a moment of clarity” that leads us to a decision to take action.  Although many are discouraged to try this sort of treatment option at home, it can work and has many advantages, yet it does require that key commitment above all.

To reach a decision to stop an addiction, you need to have a moment of clarity.   A moment of clarity is a very small window of time in which the real you surfaces, the insanity of the addiction is held at bay, and in this moment a clear message surfaces that you must do something about your drinking or your addiction. That’s the moment you must maximize to make a decision to stop the addiction. The decision made, you now have to choose a treatment option.

For many, an outpatient treatment program is the only option, and although some may believe that they may need to go somewhere to make a change it really does rely on the commitment one is willing to make. How many stories have you heard of people after going to an elaborate and expensive facility, come out and go back to old habits? This is because they failed to fully engage what was necessary and maybe never had that moment of clarity. Someone else either forced them or they were left with few options while essentially they just following along to buy time, until the next explosion of events occurred. Yet once making a commitment to do a home recovery program it should be considered nothing less than an outpatient treatment program as along with the decision come responsibilities necessary to achieve a successful outcome.

Being an outpatient in recovery affords privacy, no time lost from work, it’s inexpensive, and non-intrusive allowing less expulsion of one’s intimate situation to an outside circle of others who may judge.  You can recover at your own pace and set your own goals.  However, as the name implies “outpatient” means that you are still a patient and you are in need of help and medical attention. A favorable approach is to utilize a personal coach to guide you through the changes you need to make and responsibilities that are required.

Find an addiction coach or therapist that will agree to work with you from home.  With the various forms of technology at our disposal today, you can use Skype video or even a simple phone call to bring your coach into your living room or office. It doesn’t matter if your coach is in Canada or Tokyo, the key is getting an experienced party involved to help you reach your goal.

Another element that is a crucial part of success for many and your coach should advise you on, is using anti-craving medications to help make your program successful. New research shows that some medications actually reverse the addiction. While other medications can help slow down and even stop binge drinking, there are also drugs that can help control cravings.

Once you find the person you feel can help you, your coach can take an honest assessment of your situation and help you start the healing process.  Here is what your recovery at home may look like and the order you may want to take:

  • Get a checkup from your doctor
  • Address any medical issues
  • Decide which anti-craving drug if any that you need to take
  • Set goals for recovery and have those goals set within a time frame
  • Check in with your coach daily for the first week or two until the medications start working
  • Keep a drinking diary so you can chart your progress
  • Take at least 1 hour per day that you set aside to get your “homework” done and work on yourself
  • Turn undisciplined into discipline
  • Start making small changes and step out of your comfort zone
  • Start adding healthy activities to your routine
  • Start improving your diet and eat regular meals
  • Work on your sleeping patterns

All these suggestions can be found in The Breakthrough Plan for Alcohol Addiction, by Deborah Morrow, a free e-book available to you at: http://www.debbiethecoach.com/subscribe/

Sleep – The Final Frontier Part 1: Sleep Tips

Do You Get a Good Night’s Sleep?
I can’t sleep! I hear this from so many people. Has the entire world stopped sleeping? Often we think there is nothing we can do about it, or has sleep become less important? Some people seem to accept being relegated to being “one of those people” who can’t sleep. Others seem to live with the excuse that they “don’t need as much sleep as other people do”. While others just won’t accept that they have a sleep disorder. So I decided to see what the National Sleep Foundation had to say about getting a good night’s sleep.


Sleep Affects our Health

Sleep is important to our health. Our immune cells don’t work very well if you keep waking up in the middle of the night. Among other health issues poor sleep patterns increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Sleep also affects our moods, and when we are irritable it can even impair our relationships. Sleep deprivation can cause lack of mental alertness that not only affects our job performance, but it can also affect our judgment when driving. The inability to sleep can affect our weight as well, and sleep deprived individuals are more likely to become obese as they are more likely to crave foods that are higher in calories and carbohydrates.The cycle continues as this pattern in turn could lead to diabetes. While finally sleepless nights also affect our aging process, as our body’s restorative capacity becomes depleted.

Insomnia
Sometimes it just takes some concentration and slight behavioral changes to help you have a restful sleep. Some people may need a more aggressive approach, and while there are different kinds of sleep disorders, this article will focus on insomnia. Insomnia is when you have trouble falling asleep, have problems maintaining sleep or awaken too early unable to get back to sleep. Half the people with insomnia don’t even know they have an actual sleep disorder and many don’t believe anything can be done about it. There are many reasons for insomnia: among them would be stress, depression, perimenopause, and excessive consumption of caffeine.


Our Circadian Clock

One of the most important things you can do is to keep a regulated sleep schedule sticking to a regular bed and wake time. Although it might be difficult, try to keep the same bedtime even on the weekends, along with waking at your regular schedule. Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by a “circadian clock”. Nature points the way. When your biological rhythms are aligned with the rhythms of nature, your mind/body systems will be in a more positive state of health. It is recommended that you sleep 6 – 8 hours each night. The hours you sleep before midnight are the most rejuvenating. Optimally, if you can be in bed by 10 or 10:30 and sleep until six, you will feel better than if you went to bed at midnight and slept until 8.


Sleep and Addictions

A sleeping problem can be a risk factor for substance abuse or depression. You have probably heard advice saying that having a drink before bed helps people sleep. This may lead to dependency on alcohol and thus it becomes a risk factor for substance abuse.
People with addictions, especially to alcohol or drugs, have difficulty sleeping. Addicts and alcohol dependent people are often nighthawks and actually fight sleep. Just walking into their bedroom can cause anxiety and worry, knowing they will toss and turn all night. I used to be one of those people that was afraid to go to bed. I used wine to help me get to sleep. The problem with alcohol is that it may initially help get you to sleep, but it will disrupt your ability to stay asleep as the alcohol wears off and your body begins to feel its withdrawal.


More Sleep Tips

  • Don’t drink any alcohol before going to bed. Drinking interrupts the sleep cycle, therefore disrupting your sleep.
  • Adopt a new routine. If you are used to going to bed well after midnight, for the first week try stepping up your bedtime slowly by going to bed one half hour earlier at night; then the next week and additional half hour earlier again. Continue this pattern until you can be in bed by 10 or 10:30p.m.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Both of these are stimulants and will most certainly add to your sleep dilemma. Choose milk or maybe a non-caffeinated herbal tea as your bedtime beverage. Smoking before going to bed also makes it more difficult to go to sleep as nicotine withdrawal can wake you up in the middle of the night. Yet another good reason to stop smoking.
  • Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before retiring for the night. You’ll be more comfortable if you aren’t full. Avoid spicy foods that can cause heartburn. Don’t drink too much liquid before going to bed to avoid nighttime trips to the bathroom.
  • Exercise regularly. Including exercise in your daily routine can help make it easier to fall asleep. One mistake people make is to exercise too close to bedtime. Exercise increases body temperature and you want your body to have cooled down with enough time before turning in, in order to be able to fall asleep.
  • Create a nice environment for sleeping. Have your room cool, quiet and dark. Your body’s natural melatonin process works better if you’re in a dark environment. Also be sure to have a good mattress and comfortable pillow. Some of us are still using the same mattress we have had for years, not realizing the difference it can make.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. Keep your work out of the bedroom! Too often do we drag a laptop in the bedroom thinking it’s a matter of convenience where it is actually a source of over stimulation. Many experts also recommend that a television doesn’t belong here either, especially if you are over stimulated easily and have a sleep disorder.
  • Design a sleep ritual. A ritual will prepare your mind and body for sleep. Be sure to follow Part 2 of this series: Sleep-The Final Frontier to read more about sleep and bedtime rituals.

Sweet dreams!

Tis’ the Season…Part One to Help you Handle the Holidays

Holidays Can Be Difficult

Tis’ the season for holiday parties. If you are trying to be alcohol free, the big question many of us will face is should we attend the parties or should we stay home and avoid the situation entirely? It really depends on how you are feeling. If you are a little shaky about being around alcohol and feel that you may drink, then it is better not to attend. However, with a good plan in mind you can be prepared for most unexpected situations you may encounter.

If you have numerous parties to attend, just concentrate on one at a time. There are many types of parties, as different guests will attend different functions, so each party may require you to prepare for each one individually.

Visualization

Begin by imagining yourself at the first party. Picture the guests, the atmosphere, the crowds, the drinking, and the smells. Feel the excitement. Picture yourself having fun without alcohol. Allow the focus of your visualization to be about the fun. If you don’t know how to do that yet, picture everything but the alcohol; start there. In your mind, can you see anything that could trigger a craving for alcohol? Say for example that someone who you really don’t want to run into is at the party. Picture yourself handling that situation. See, that was easy. Using your imagination navigate through the entire evening.

Look Your Best

Now it’s time to dress up and look like a million bucks. Be proud of who you are and how great you look. There is nothing like sobriety to bring out rosy cheeks, sparkly eyes or a devilish grin. If you look good you will feel good and you will exude confidence. Even if you don’t feel confident–fake it. “Act as if ye have faith, and faith shall be given to you. To put it another way, fake it till you make it.”–Aaron Sorkin. If you look confident you might as well be confident.

Mingle

So you decided to go and now you’re at the party, what to do? Mingle! Don’t hide in a corner. It’s a party! Try and open yourself up to allow people in. You may just meet your next best friend, or you may find someone with the same interests that you have. It may be easier to be a good listener, than to do the talking and this can offer positive results for both you and the other person. Take a step outside your safety zone, as you may realize it may not be so safe. Allow yourself to be interested in the people around you, you will start to relax and have more fun. If the party has planned activities such as a live auction or karaoke, help out or join in. Don’t forget to dance.

No is a Complete Sentence

No is a complete sentence. Have you ever noticed that people feel compelled to give more information than they’re asked? Here’s a classic example: Q: “Do you know what time it is”; A: “Yes, it’s almost 10 o’clock.” Clearly the question was answered after saying “yes”, and although in this scenario it might be considered rude to not give a more elaborate answer, I think you get the point. It would seem that our need to explain everything may stem from our rationalizing the guilt we harbor. Yet you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. You can refuse a drink and leave it at that.

If you feel that you need to excuse why you are not drinking, plan what you are going to say in advance. This will help you from feeling awkward or embarrassed. Some people have no problem telling friends that they have quit drinking. Believe me that they will be happy for you. Here are a few suggestions that you can utilize should you feel the need to offer an answer. You may choose to say that you want to look after your health. Or you may choose something more flippant and say, “I got all my drinking done in the past 20 years.” Another position to take is one that will not only give you a suitable answer, but put you in a proactive position, “I’m designated driver tonight, so I’m going to skip the drink tonight.” Who knows you may force someone else to think twice before they get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking. Regardless of the tone you choose, playing out scenarios ahead will help you feel more comfortable and secure with yourself.

Be Prepared

Another tip, is when you step up to the bar to order a non-alcoholic beverage, know what you are going to order in advance. Order something that you enjoy and ask the bartender to make it look festive. I like ginger ale and cranberry with a twist of lime in a fancy glass. My husband enjoys virgin Caesars that are made with clamato juice, Worcestershire sauce and spices. So get creative!

Tips to Remember

Consider these points before you head out:

  • Don’t arrive at a party hungry, thirsty, tired or angry. Any of these circumstances can trigger a craving. Once a craving is activated it will change the way you think. Some people call it “stinking thinking”. It’s when the alcohol identity tries to tell you that this time it will be different, and that this time you can drink without consequences like everyone else.
  • Hydrate throughout the day. Try and drink at least 8 glasses of water.
  • Grab some quiet time, and try to get some rest at some point in the day before you head out. Give the body and the brain a chance to slow down.
  • Make sure you eat something nutritious to level out your blood sugars. This will keep your moods from becoming erratic.
  • Avoid feeling angry. I wouldn’t recommend going to the party at all. Anger is another mask for craving, only slyer and more creative. Anger can get you drunk so fast you won’t even know what hit you. Almost as bad as the getting drunk is the anger, as we tend to personify anger validating it as a credible scapegoat.
  • Have your own vehicle, or have a plan so that you leave the party when you want and on your terms. It’s all well and good to car pool, but if you are on shaky ground with alcohol, you really want to be able to leave when you start to feel agitated or uncomfortable.
  • Always keep enough cash on you for a cab or other emergency. (I also like to keep another set of house keys hidden as well.)

Get Support

If you are really having trouble staying clean and sober, you may need support. I watched on The Biggest Loser where a participant said that he knew what he needed to do to lose weight, but was unable to do it. Now that he had a trainer, he did so much better and in fact wouldn’t have succeeded without that support. Sometimes all a person really needs is someone in their corner to help them through. If you have had your moment of clarity and really need to stop drinking, then get some help. Moments of clarity come at the most unexpected times. Whether it is Christmas, New Years, Easter, summer holidays, or other occasions; if you want to stop drinking get a coach or support system. Start enjoying your special moments without alcohol. Start enjoying yourself, it may take learning some new perspectives, but you’re so worth it.

After all that–get going to your party and have fun!

Subscribe

Did you know that Debbie the Coach has a newsletter?
Subscribe now and receive a FREE Self-assessment & Evaluation Form

DebTV

Watch Debbie's You Tube Channel

DebTV

Get Your…

Free consultation

Ad Space 1

Coaching services

Disclaimer

The material on our website is for informational purposes only, and is intended as a supplement, not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health-care provider. Read more...