You may have come across the words sober toolbox, sober toolkit or toolbox for sobriety which bring images of an actual box of tricks to mind or little pouches that people carry around with them.
While your sober toolkit can consist of actual physical items, they are really just a range of techniques, activities and yes even physical things that we turn to, that support us in our sobriety.
In today’s blog I’m going to break down what exactly a sober toolkit is, the joy of having one, how to build your own and how it will help you on your journey to an alcohol-free life.
What is a Sober Toolkit?
In short, a sober toolkit is a collection of tools or healthy coping mechanisms that you can use to help you on your journey to an alcohol-free life. Your tools for sobriety are the things that you turn to instead of using your usual crutch – alcohol.
Why a sober toolkit is such a great idea
Your sober toolbox will be your friend, your source of support and inspiration whenever you need it. The beauty of these tools and techniques is that they will evolve and grow as you do and help you to create a whole, balanced healthy life where alcohol just doesn’t have a place anymore – you simply won’t ‘need’ it.
If you haven’t yet quit drinking
Even if you are just thinking about quitting, you can start to gather your tools together now. Slowly and gradually adding alternative ways to cope, relax or just deal with life in general that will pave the way for when you remove alcohol completely. The idea is to add more of the good stuff and gradually lessen the need for drinking.
The early days of sobriety
When you start this journey and decide to remove alcohol completely, you are going to need to put things in place to help you manage your feelings and emotions, the boredom, the cravings and anything else that comes your way. Your sobriety toolbox will help you do that
Ongoing alcohol-free living
No matter how far along this path you are, there will always be a need for tools to help you as you face new challenges and deal with the ups and downs of life. Just because you are sober, it doesn’t mean that life is always sunshine and roses because, well, that’s life. You will get stressed, bored and tired. You might hit a wall in your journey when it all becomes a bit ‘meh’. You will be in difficult or overwhelming situations and you will need ways to help you through.
Things to put in your Sober Toolkit
There are no rules here really as long as the tools are healthy and help you when you need it most. Your toolkit will be as unique as you are but here are a few of my own tools and suggestions.
Tea What can I say! I love all the teas and in my opinion, there is nothing that can’t be fixed, soothed, celebrated or made better than with a nice cup of tea!
AF drinks If they don’t trigger you and if you like them, then go for it. Experiment with mocktails and fill your fridge with what ever it is that you like.
Small items that mean something to you Pinecones, pebbles, pictures, lip gloss, crystals, a piece of jewelry, a photo or message. If it helps, keep it in your pocket.
Affirmations or mantras. Words have tremendous power and filling yourself up with positive, inspiring words and messages will help you to feel good about what it is you are doing and lift you up when you’re feeling down. Print them out or have them on your phone. Look at them and repeat them often.
Meditation Meditating for just ten minutes a day has the power to calm your mind, increase focus and just generally help you feel good, calm and at peace. If you are new to mediating then check out apps like calm, headspace or insight timer for guided meditations and beginner practices.
Music One of my clients favourite ways to unwind after work is to lie in the bath with headphones, listening to loud music. It’s a great way to clear your head, lift your mood and bring you joy. Why not create a playlist of your favourite songs or have a few to reflect your different moods and needs.
Journal Even if you are not great at journaling, having a space to write out your thoughts and feelings is a great way to manage cravings, or just clear your head of the clutter. My one to one coaching is complimented by journaling and its one of the aspects that people get great benefit from. Start by carrying a small notebook to just write down anything that pops into your head. Or, spend the first ten minutes of your day getting it all out on paper!
Community Friends, family, co-workers, members of a support group, or people in your yoga or pottery class. These are all people who can help and support you. Surround yourself with those who love you and get you. Yes, you have to do this but there is absolutely no need to do it alone.
Support If you need more than just a chat with your bestie or coffee with your sister once a week, then try some more dedicated, focused support. There are happily so many places to go for virtual or in-person therapy, support or coaching that you are bound to find something that works for you.
Exercise Nothing beats a craving quite like 20 minutes of exercise. It is brilliant on so many levels from the physical (obvs) to the emotional and psychological. Find something that you enjoy and aim to spend 20 minutes a day moving your body. Yoga, walking, running, dancing, swimming, cycling – whatever you enjoy.
Nature Being in nature heals, sooths, nourishes and inspires in a way that nothing else can. My first two months of sobriety were split between sitting on the sofa, eating cake and walking. I did so much walking and sometimes just sitting under a tree or on a rock. I cannot emphasize enough just how soul nourishing it is to be outside. If you are having a craving or experiencing a difficult moment, get yourself outside for 10 minutes!
Treats/rewards Cake, chocolate, warm milk and honey, a lie in, clean bedding, essential oils, a long lazy bath, a new top or fancy candle. Indulge in something that makes you feel good on a regular basis. This journey is all about brining positive experiences into your life. Embrace the joy and the lovely and treat yourself often.
Breath Your breath has the power to change your mood and physiology in an instant. If you want to calm down take long, slow, deep nourishing breaths and see just how much better you feel. Meditation can also help with different breathing techniques – there is literally a breath for every event!
Water Sometimes a craving happens because we are simply thirsty. Make sure you have plenty to drink during the day to keep yourself hydrated. One of our gorgeous members credits drinking water to getting her through the first few weeks of sobriety.
Healthy food Alcohol depletes us of so many nutrients and while I can totally sign off on cake and chocolate, it’s important to fill yourself with healthy, nourishing food. Eat the rainbow and feel your energy levels rise, your mood and sleep improve as the natural balance begins to be restored in your body.
Quit lit I binge read about 4 sobriety books during the first few weeks and reading still is an important part of my sober toolkit. Here is a list of some of the books I’ve read. It is so inspiring to read the stories of other people and how they too overcame their struggles and are living the life they truly deserve – if they can, then you absolutely can!
Podcasts Podcasts, like sobriety books are a great source of comfort and inspiration. Plug in your headphones and listen while on a power walk or have the podcast on instead of the news or other pointless TV. Podcasts are great because you can listen wherever, whenever. Just in case you didn’t know, I too have a podcast which you can listen to here!
Creative pursuits When you stop numbing out with alcohol, you become more open, have more free time and energy and maybe have a desire to create something!
Creativity and being creative is not purely reserved for traditional artists, like painters or writers for example. Being creative is allowing yourself to create something, anything just for the fun and sheer joy of it.
Creativity might lead you back to an old pastime or begin a new hobby. I recently picked up knitting, but creativity can include cooking, drawing, writing, colouring in, building things, making music, taking photos or even finding creative ways to schedule your days or organize your cupboard!
Don’t hold back and just allow yourself some time to tap into your creative side – we all have one.
*The list is actually endless as it is totally unique to you. The key is to be open to exploring and experimenting until you find the thing that works.
Kite surfing on a Saturday – cool.
Poetry class on Wednesdays – amazing.
Floatation tanks, crystal collecting, spell casting, metal detecting, baking, knitting, weightlifting, napping, sewing, hiking, kombucha, coffee, whatever floats your boat, brings you joy and is fun, healthy, soothing or relaxing, it’s all good.
“Do your thing. Do it every day. Do it ‘unapologetically’. Don’t be discouraged by criticism. You probably already know what they’re going to say. Pay no mind to the fear of failure. It’s far more valuable than success. Take ownership, take chances and have fun. And no matter what, don’t ever stop doing your thing.” ― Asher Roth
Building your sober Toolkit
This is the fun and easy part! Start by making a list of all the things that you can use or are already using to help you through certain situations.
You can make a table like the example below and write down all the situations that you need help with and ways to manage that situation.
Think about everything that you have experienced or will experience. Wine o’clock or the witching hour, cravings, stress, PMT, needing to relax, social situations, boredom. Then underneath each heading, write down ways to help you to manage those feelings, emotions or situations.
A long bath at 4pm, dancing round the kitchen to relieve stress, a guided meditation to sooth and calm before you tackle the chores, cake after dinner or yummy yoga before bed – it’s all good.
How to use your Sober Toolkit
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” – Sharon Salzberg
- It’s the same with your sober toolkit. It’s absolutely no use having this wonderful list of things to help you if you don’t use it!
- Write your list or create your table and print it out.
- Make copies and stick them all over your house.
- Put one up at work or carry one around in your bag.
- If you have physical items in your sober toolbox, make sure you have a plentiful supply!
- Carry snacks and water with you.
- Download your favourite podcasts or audio books on your phone
- Set a times or use an app to receive your affirmations regularly
- Stick your vision board or your affirmations where you can see them
- Carry a book or journal with you
- Have your support network within easy reach
- Put your running gear by the door or the yoga mat by your bed
- Schedule time for yourself to work on the things you want to do
- The trick here is to make sure that your tools are easily available to you. You want to make it as easy as possible to turn to these tools and on the other end of the scale, as difficult as possible to reach for the alcohol.
“Make it obvious, make it attractive, and make it easy” – James clear
I really hope that this blog has inspired you and given you some ideas for your own sober toolkit. I’d love to know what you have in your own sober toolkit. Let me know by leaving a comment below.