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“Hi, Scott. I have a question about transitions. It seems like each year they sneak up on me, kids getting out of school, summer ending, kids going back to school, the holidays and so on. And along with these transitions, my urges to drink seem to sneak up on me as well. I’m curious what you would suggest about these transitions and how to best handle them while living alcohol-free.”
This is a fantastic question because yeah, it happens. I remember when I was a kid, and I can’t remember who told me, I want to say it was my grandparents or an aunt and uncle or someone, I was complaining about how long the school year was, and they said, “Oh, just wait. The older you get, the faster it goes.” And boy has that held true in my experience. And so I know exactly what you mean about these things sneaking up on you.
It seems like all of a sudden the kids are starting school and then before I know it, it’s Christmas, and then before I know it, it’s summer again. And yeah, it can be surprising. Along with these transitions, we transition to kind of a new way, a new normal. That means that routines that we’ve established go out the window. Instead of driving the kids to school in the morning and then going to pick them up, which we had been used to for awhile, all of a sudden they’re here all the time. Or we’ve got to drive them to camp or we’re going on a vacation. These things happen and this change in routine can absolutely bring some unexpected triggers.
So I do have a few ideas about this and things that might help. The first one is to have your own routine that never changes no matter what. Now obviously, this is going to be different for everyone. I’m going to talk about what mine is. But the bottom line is having things that you’re doing for you each day, no matter where you are or what’s going on, that’s going to help provide some consistency for you. And if you can connect that to your alcohol-free journey, even better.
So my daily routine includes getting up and before I do anything else, I do a little bit of reading and I journal. There’s other things I add on to that most of the time if I can. But at a bare minimum, and I mean this can be like 10, 15 minutes, it’s a little bit of reading and my journaling. And I do that no matter what time of year it is, no matter if the kids are in school or out of school. If I’m at home, if I’m not at home, it literally doesn’t matter where I am, I can get that 15 minutes and do that.
Now, what that does for me is it grounds me for the day. This writing in my journal and writing about my thoughts, writing about how I’m feeling helps express things. And if any of you who have been in our programs, you’ve heard that I’m a huge fan of journaling. I’m big on it. And it was instrumental for me in my process of going alcohol-free because it gave me a place to express. It gave me a place to talk about what I was feeling and what I was experiencing. And through doing that, through expressing that, I was able to process it more efficiently.
So whether it is journaling for you, whether it’s reading for you, for some people it’s getting up and doing some sort of exercise, it doesn’t matter really what it is. But have some sort of foundational habit that you do every day and ideally at the same time every day through all of these transitions, through the school year, through the summer, through the holidays, at home, away. Whatever it is, whatever your circumstance is, if you can do that every day, you’re going to give yourself a sense of consistency, which is really helpful.
Also, if it includes journaling, you can talk about those triggers when they come up. You can talk about, “Man, I cannot believe that my kids are home for the summer already. It really makes me think of sitting on the back deck and having a beer.” And just the act of expressing that, the act of seeing that, it can be massively helpful in thinking through how to work your way through it. So that’s one idea.
Learn more about the importance of journaling and dealing with transitions. Start reading This Naked Mind for free today!
Another idea, which I really like this one, I’ve started doing this myself as well, is celebrating those transitions. So often, what happens is these things come at us and we’re like, “Oh no.” We get scared, we get worried, we get stressed out about what they mean for us, and so what we end up doing is we end up fearing them and causing stress in our own life. I try to take the exact opposite approach now, every time one of these transitions comes up.
As a matter of fact, my kids just started school, it was a three weeks ago. I celebrate that. I talk to them about it. We spend time thinking this is really amazing. My son, my youngest just started kindergarten. So reflecting on that, reflecting on this last five years with him, reflecting on how big of a step this is. Talking with my daughter who’s in fourth grade. She’s starting at a new school, she’s doing things a little bit differently. But really taking the time to be mindful about the transition, mindful about how schedules are going to shift.
Instead of dictating to them, “Here’s what we’re going to do,” sit down and talk to them about it. Like, “Hey guys, we got to be at the bus at 8:30. What time do you want me to get you up? How do you want the mornings to run?” Being very deliberate about setting up those routines and being excited about this change of routine. Basically what I’m saying is just take a different approach. Take it away from, “Oh, another shakeup,” to, “This is going to be fun. We’re going to make this fun. We’re going to make this better.” Having that mindset going into it can make a huge difference.
Finally, just embrace it because at the end of the day, there is nothing you’re going to be able to do about it. These transitions happen and if my grandparents were right, they’re going to happen faster and faster and faster for all of us. So the easier we can make it and the better mindset we can have about it, the easier it’s going to be for us to just sail right through these transitions and any urges that come with them alcohol-free.
We talk about more than just transitions in this week’s podcast. Keep listening to hear the other Q&A’s.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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