One of the things I see on a regular basis is when women use keeping busy as a means of staying sober.
It’s a wonderful thing to realise just how much energy you have when you first get comfortable with your sobriety. Here’s some of the things I see women enjoying once they get sober:
- Early mornings are filled with meditation, journaling, dog walks, exercise, prepping the breakfast and lunches – a positive start to the day.
- Lunchtime becomes a healthy option because there is time and clarity of mind to think about what they want to eat.
- Work stress reduces and productivity increases because tiredness and lethargy are gone and clarity of mind is present.
- Spending time with friends is wonderful, not just because they have the time but because they have the concentration to really listen to their friends.
- The house has never been cleaner and, bit by bit, messy drawers, cupboards and rooms are de-cluttered to a state of minimalism, the laundry is all done and the toys get tidied away every night.
- There is time for date nights and sober sex.
- Evenings are filled with books, exercise, movies they can remember and early nights.
If you’re not there yet, there is so much to look forward to isn’t there? Won’t it be fantastic to get life in order this way once you’re sober?
I’ve seen this quite regularly that some women keep up this busyness routine because they haven’t yet figured out how to sit still with themselves and, more importantly, their sobriety.
The Problem with Busyness
Keeping busy means you never have to worry about dealing with your triggers or cravings because you just don’t have the time. It’s really easy to keep yourself occupied all day and flop into bed exhausted, knowing that you did so much running around that you didn’t have time to think about drinking.
Keeping busy might mean that it never even crossed your mind, however, you can’t live like this forever.
If you are currently in the busyness trap just close your eyes for a moment and project yourself 10 years into the future. You might have stayed sober all that time but what kind of life would you be living?
The Sober Opportunity
When alcohol has been your daily companion, the loss of having to live without it can feel like a sort of grief. Keeping busy means you don’t have to look at who you are, feel selfish about taking time for yourself, work out what to do with your time etc. Doesn’t that mean you miss out though?
One of the most wonderful things of being sober in the long term is being able to take advantage of the opportunities it offers you.
After years of drinking and staying stuck in the same place emotionally and developmentally, won’t it be wonderful to be finally able to express yourself in the world in a way that brings you joy? If this makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, take the time out to ask yourself why. This is the kind of advice you would give to your kids or someone you loved – don’t you deserve the same things in life? Of course you do.
It’s a well known phrase that you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you are constantly running your cup empty how will you take care of yourself, how will you have the energy to deal with a major crisis that means you don’t have the time to do all the doing?
Sometimes, women focus so much on the practical and physical aspect of giving up alcohol that they don’t take the time to look at what their sober lives will be like. If you don’t take the time out to think about how you want your life to be it’s likely to continue to be full of busy until you become so exhausted that the first thing you do when you give up is drink.
I know from talking to women that there is a world of talent in each and every one of them that is lying dormant, waiting for the space and time to be brought forth into the world. The whole world needs what you have to offer and it would be a crime if you got to the end of your days saying “I wish I had taken more advantage of my sobriety by writing that book/changing jobs/starting a business.”
How to Break the Busyness Habit
Here’s a few tips to help you find the space to become who you were meant to:
Take a look at a typical day. Ask yourself if all of the things you are doing in a day are 100%, critically, absolutely necessary? Try keeping a daily log for a week of what you do every 30 minutes . What is your day filled with? Can housework tasks be left for another day or can someone else do them? Now that you’ve saved some money by not drinking, can you pay someone else to do it?
Schedule some ‘being’ time with someone you love. Book in some time with someone special and just be with them. Give them 100% of your focus and attention. Ask them what they would like to do and agree.
Be still. If your busyness manifests in the form of high energy doing, take 15 minutes to sit and do nothing. Even meditation can be seen as a form of doing but staring at the flowers in the garden, the nearby hills or the waves will bring a sense of relaxation and peace that will give your brain the space to allow ideas in.
Ask yourself what it is that you’re avoiding. Often keeping busy is all about avoidance. Avoiding thinking about triggers, what life will be like if you stop, what will happen to your significant relationship? You can’t avoid things forever and when you look them square in the eye you will find that they are never as terrible as you had imagined. Use these two journal prompts to help you:
“Keeping busy is helping me avoid…”
Once you have made a list use this journal prompt:
“The evidence that these things will be negative or bad is…”
Your Last Wishes
Your last wishes as you leave the planet will be to have loved more, spent more time with loved ones and spent more time doing things you love. You’ll never wish you’d done more housework.
Don’t waste another minute on stuff you that doesn’t bring you joy.
The moment you start to let go of the busyness you will reconnect with the authentic, beautiful version of yourself that will make staying sober easy because you will begin to fill your life with those things that will leave you with no regrets in your last days.