Living one moment at a time, especially in early sobriety, is essential in creating lasting freedom from alcohol or substance use. When first tackling sobriety, we are often struck by cravings, or a desire to drink or use the substances we are addicted to. Rather than reacting on impulse we must take a step back, breath, pause, and think before consuming our poison of choice. This will probably feel quite uncomfortable at first, nearly impossible it may seem, but with patience and practice it will become a more natural thing to do, to pause and resist that strong desire. Each time you overcome that craving you become stronger, and you are learning new ways to deal with uncomfortable feelings.
In the early days cravings come frequently, do your best to be prepared for them by writing down ways you will overcome that uncomfortableness. Deep breathing, punching a pillow, going for a walk, reaching out to a friend, or journaling are all excellent ways to get through that difficult moment.
Living one moment at a time will help you to not get overwhelmed at this seemingly monumental task of living your life without a substance you may have used for most of your life. I believe it’s great to envision what your life will be without the substance, the positives of it; relationships healed, quality of life improved, money saved, self-respect returned etc. But don’t look at it as a life-sentence of misery ahead, because it’s not but, if you keep using it can be.
Some ways to help you live for the moment instead of projecting into the future or re-living the past include pausing and taking some deep breaths, looking at and describing your surroundings, becoming aware of your thoughts.
Focus on Your Breath
By paying attention to your breath when you find yourself panicking about the future or having cravings you will bring your thoughts back to the present moment and create calm inside yourself.
Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose, feel your diaphragm fill with air and your lungs expand, hold for the count of 2, release your breath through your mouth. Do this until you feel a sense of calmness envelop you (usually about 3–5 times for me).
Observe Your Surroundings
Looking at and describing 3 or 4 of the items that are near you will bring you back from distracted thoughts and keep you in the moment. For instance, I see a white kitchen chair, I feel the keys of my laptop keyboard under my fingers, I hear our dog barking and music playing. This trick forces you to be in the present moment and I swear works every time. Give it a shot.
Become Aware of Your Thoughts
By being aware of your thoughts you can wrangle them in and keep them from wondering off too far into the future or back in the past. This will also help you to recognize when a craving is coming on before it hits too bad. Generally, a relapse doesn’t just happen it’s preceded by many thoughts that lead up to acting on using your substance of choice, so being aware and mindful of your thoughts is so important.
Lastly, Enjoy Yourself
Get lost in that good book, lose yourself in that art project, soak in all of nature’s beauty. By doing things we really, really, enjoy and love doing we will automatically be in the present moment because we’re truly having fun and content. By doing things we enjoy we’re not focusing on our addiction we’re focusing on the fun we’re having instead. We’re focusing on life and living, and isn’t that what it’s truly all about?
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