Slippers, Meditation, Vinyl Relaxation & Doing Lockdown 2.0 Wrong

Day 111 Alcohol Free – the nephew of the beast 6 times removed? His neighbour 555 doors down?

None of this is relevant to being alcohol free – although there is a book recommendation below.

This is just the random stuff on my mind first thing in the morning, gathered over the last week. This will give you a sneak peak in to how my mind works, most of the time.

Slippers

I have come to the realisation that I’m not a slipper man. I’ve lost them twice already. Its not even been 5 days.

My slippers

It has been brought to my attention that they look like orthopaedic shoes, turns out I have no fashion sense either.

Meditation Mantra

I’ve been trying a new meditation practice – The Z Technique. If you’re interested check out Stress Less Accomplish More by Emily Fletcher.

The meditation part works on a mantra. Which, for this exercise, is the word ONE. This morning my brain kept replacing ONE with HAND CREAM.

What is that about? Is it my brain trying to tell me my hands need attention? What do you think – I know its only my left hand, but looks okay to me.

Vinyl Relaxation

I inherited my Grandads vinyl record collection a while back (he’s been gone 25 years) and found this gem of a boxset in it.

Guess what todays work soundtrack is going to be? Do you think they’ll mind if I doze off during yet another Zoom call.

I’m Doing Lockdown Wrong, Again!

Oh FFS I’m doing it all wrong again 😉 Check out this BBC article: Covid-19: ‘Less exercise and more TV’ than first lockdown.

I personally shut down first lockdown – work, tv, sleep, work, tv, sleep (and lots of food).

Now I’m doing everything I was apparently meant to be doing lockdown 1.0. I just can’t keep up with the human race at times

Be Kinder To Yourself

92 Days Alcohol Free

This morning I was reading The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi, I’ve mentioned the book several times recently.

This line really stood out to me:

Expect it to be hard.  You knew it would be a struggle to change and you've voluntarily decided to do it anyway.  Shahroo Izadi

The idea is to prepare mentally in advance of those hard times. Have a plan in place for when they come.

I did struggle with the temptation to have a few beers on a Friday night after work – something I’d been doing for 28 years. It was a deeply embedded behaviour. My plan in this case was very simple, but effective. Buy alcohol free alternatives.

The plan doesn’t have to be grand or mind blowing.

Positive Change

As the title of the book suggests, its about changing habits in a kinder way.

I’ve spent years trying to change things I thought were wrong with me. Always falling back in to the bad habits or behaviours I was trying to change.

I’ve often found myself thinking “you’re fat, pathetic” and tried to use that as the base for change. Now I am trying to flip that thought to “what caused the weight gain?”. What is the main habit? Now I am looking at the behaviour itself, not beating myself up.

Rather than look at my habits as failings, character flaws, I am looking back at how they formed. They all served a purpose at some point – grabbing sugary foods was comforting, for example. Once I have that in mind, I can ask if they’re still serving their purpose. Is the sugary food still comforting?

Once I have answered that question I can decide what change, if any, I need to make.

What can I lose by trying this approach? The alternative, negative, beat myself up method wasn’t working.

Thats just a small part of the approach suggested in the book. For a better crash course in Shahroo’s approach I recommend Episode 28 of the OYNB podcast she appears on.

Christmas Eve Brain Dump

75 days alcohol free.

It’s 6.09am on Christmas Eve. I’ve already been to the shop, to pick up the last bits. There are always “last bits”. Bits we never need on any other day of the year and can live without easily.

Re-gaining Control

I came to the realisation, a while back, that part of the reason I’ve struggled for the last 18 months is lack of control. This just got worse during lockdown.

Every time I tried to get a routine going, something happened to upend it. Thats what I mean by lack of control. I don’t need total control over everything, just the ability to set my own agenda for certain things.

What to do about this? Its the small wins, pretty sure every self-help book talks about those. This is where I started. Simply by reading again. Gathering ideas, re-learning forgotten knowledge. Reminding myself what works.

What Works For Me

Every morning, for the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a combination of three approaches to goal setting and self-care.

Andy Ramage’s Let’s Do This!

This was the starting point. It invigorated me and gave me some fresh ideas, mixed with some I’d used to stop drinking. This kick-started a new morning routine of journalling.

This is what I end up with most days – I never thought I’d be doing stuff like this, but then I never thought I’d stop drinking either. Thats working out pretty good so far, so why not try different things.

Before I started those numbers were mostly 2 and 3. They also help target where I need to focus next.

Hal Elrod’s The Morning MIracle

A book I read years ago, but decided to re-visit. Lots I forgot. This helped me evolve the morning routine. I now have structure in the morning and have regained some control over a part of my life. I start each day in a good place now, which helps me cope with whatever happens after.

I’m not totally there yet with coping, but I am a lot better.

The Wim Hof Method

I’m exploring meditation. I kept getting recommendations on Audible and Youtube for the Wim Hof method. So, I explored.

The first morning I tried it (after I’d de-frosted) I was buzzing. Drove to work with a smile on my face. I’ve also noticed, in the last week, I’m happier and calmer.

I don’t know if this is a combination of all I am doing, but its working.

Bonus Addition

I’m also reading The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izardi – this one is like therapy, in a way that is approachable.

This is more for setting the long term goals and not relapsing in to old ways. I can keep something going for a couple of years, but always fall back to old ways.

This book is an alternative approach to those I’ve used before, so we will see how it goes by 2024.

Why? WHAT IF?

55 days sober.

Every self help guru/book seems to start with “find your big why”.

Big why’s don’t work as a start point for me. Its taken a long time for me to realise this.

Goggins

It was finishing David Goggins’ book Can’t Hurt Me that made things click in to place. He finishes the book by asking WHAT IF?

That made me realise that I never solved a problem by thinking why it needed solving. If I have a problem at work and I’m struggling to fix it I never go back to the BIG WHY to help. The question is always WHAT IF I try this, or this. The why always comes after – why didn’t that work, or why did it work. It’s never a big why though.

My big why for stopping drinking has always been I don’t want to die young. If that isn’t a big enough why I don’t know what is. I don’t have time to sit around finding a better why.

But WHAT IF is much better for me, your mileage may be different.

What If In Practice

I can apply that short term and long. It can help mindfulness, keep me in the moment, or it can help me visualise the end goal.

For example in the moment – I’m offered a beer. I quickly ask myself what if I have it. It takes a second to do that internal audit of what if and remind myself of the consequences. Those off guard moments are when I’m at my most vulnerable and I never once went to the big why for help.

Big why is language I never understood when solving problems. Maybe I need to retrain my brain to be able to leverage big why’s. But that will take time, time which could be spent doing something that works for me.

Why React?

Why is a reactive word. We use the 5 why’s at work to find out why something didn’t happen, or went wrong. Or we ask why are you doing that? Or why do you want to do that? If you’re asking why, then you already know what you are going to do or you’ve already done it or doing it.

Having said all this. Applying WHAT IF is still not easy, it needs to become habit to make it a go to.

OYNB Challenge: Day Eleven

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Meditation

I’ve used it for many things. From helping me get off to sleep to de-stressing during the workday. I’ve never used it to battle a craving though. I guess it’s worth a go, it works so well in other situations.

Not a lot to say today really. I am finding it ironic that since I stopped drinking my depression got worse for a while and now my gout has returned. These aren’t reasons to start drinking again. Its quite funny, in a warped way.

OYNB Challenge: Day Ten

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Socialising

There is an “and finally” part of todays exercise, which is stop caring what others think about going alcohol free. There are a four tips before that one, but I see them as steps to that final one. In the case of not drinking, I’m already at the stage of not caring what others think and have been from day one.

One of the other five tips I will be implementing though. Which is to try to arrange social activities that don’t revolve around alcohol.

Whenever I met up with my eldest son, before lockdown, it was often at the pub. We’d have a couple of pints and a catch up. He’s now getting in to hiking, a common interest we can replace the pub meet ups with.

Success

I won’t lie, this last week has been draining. Over the weekend I hit a real low point, a real deep and dark depression. Doing some research I now know this is part of the brains healing process. Things aren’t perfect now, but I feel like they’re slowly getting better.

OYNB Challenge: Day Nine

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Nutrition

Uh oh!

Eat a better, more balanced diet.

I’ll get on to it. Seriously though, I’ve done this before and for a sustained period. I know what to do, it will just take adjustment to the food we buy in the weekly shop.

We already do part of the process. Weekly food prep for one, with healthy options that can just be re-heated. This takes out the temptation to go for a “quick, easy” snack. This is the trick for me. Make it easy, take away the temptation by limiting the options. If there are no snacks in the house, I will rarely go out to get some.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

But, I do need to work on drinking more water during the day.

OYNB Challenge: Day Eight

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

What Do I Want?

It took a while to differentiate this one from the Why’s exercise from Day One. I know what I want and why I want it. Not sure why it took me so long to realise that todays exercise was more about using willpower to overcome the “want” to have a drink to the mindset of just not wanting a drink at all. Getting to the point where alcohol isn’t really that important.

Part of that will be replacing alcohol with healthy habits. For me, at the moment, that is blogging, reading more and walking my dog. As I go further, these habits will be:

  • To be back in the gym (when we’re allowed and I’m back to decent health).
  • Meditate more – I enjoy it, but don’t put enough time in to it.
  • Hiking in my favourite places.
  • Taking some courses – I’ve always wanted to get that A Level in physics.
  • Seeing more of my family – again lockdown dependent.

All that feeds in to getting back to what I was like about a year and a half ago. Five stone lighter, working out daily, full of energy, good habits (most of the above). But I wan’t all of that WITHOUT the alcohol, which I have never done – it has always been there to some degree. I’d be fine five days of the week, then weekends would be a washout due to hangovers. I want the weekends to be productive, fully of activity, or restful.

OYNB Challenge: Day Seven

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Goal Friend

I guess having someone who is going through this too makes it easier. My partner is currently AF too, so my goal friend choice is easy – my dog Murphy.

Murphy - Cockapoo
Murphy Dogg

My partner gets it, so she is the perfect choice. Along with the OYNB community.

The Week In Review

Photo by Arthur Brognoli on Pexels.com

On one side its been a really good week.

  • Increased focus at work
  • Rediscovered my love of reading – its took my attention away from alcohol
  • I am now planning a bit better for the future, rather than just going through the routine of one day at a time.
  • I am more engaged in life – not fully yet, but better
  • I’m blogging again – this to me is like a mindfulness exercise. Writing my thoughts, etc is pure reflection and helps me understand whats going on.
  • I lost a couple of pounds in weight, reversing the trend.

Then there has been the downside.

  • My depression has deepened as the week as gone on. I now understand this can be a side effect of stopping drinking. I am holding on to the fact that it will pass.
  • If it weren’t for the off licence closing early, due to lockdown, I’d have caved in on Friday and Saturday. But on a positive, I didn’t turn to what alcohol is left in the house.
  • Very tired all the time

On to another week.

OYNB Challenge: Day Six

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

The Backup Plan

The last time I went alcohol free, for an extended period, I went out on a works do. I knew there would be pressure to drink. At that point I had enough resolve not to bow to the peer pressure.

However, I spent a full night not enjoying myself because me being AF was the focus of many of the conversations. It got boring pretty fast. People trying to find out the “real reason” I’d stopped drinking because “I just want a break from alcohol” wasn’t good enough.

Looking back on this challenge and the advice given, I would now handle this differently.

OYNB offers good tips. The break from alcohol is one of the first step tips. But I didn’t try anything else. Now I would use the “I’m doing a challenge” tip. People love a challenge, not sure why.

The next stage is one I’ve been doing for years, but can’t for the life of me understand why I didn’t do it the night of the works do. In the past, when the night got to the tipping point of no longer being fun, I would just go home. Even when drunk I could spot that point and know when to exit.

This is what I should have done at the works do. As soon as it got to the point I was getting sick of the questioning and peer pressure, I should have picked the right moment and left. In a polite manner. People know this is something I do. For some reason, when sober, in my mind I thought it would be rude. I need to get over that.

Success (sort of)

Photo by Sides Imagery on Pexels.com

Friday night was horrible. All the triggers were hitting me. I’m 45 and for as long as I can remember Friday has been a drinking night to ease the stress of the working week. Thats a hard, long term, habit to break.

I’d tried all the counter measures I’d put in place. Exercise, reading, listening to music, etc. But the craving was still strong. Luckily the off licence closes at 7pm, in these lockdown times. In the end I just took myself to bed.

When I say success, only by circumstance. Now I need to put things in place for next Friday night.