Dry January | Reflecting On One Week of Sobriety

How to process one week of sobriety

Congratulations! You’ve made it to Day 7. As you finish each week of Dry January, we’ll slow down a little to reflect on our new sober life and sift through the emotional jungle of the past few days. I’ll also provide you with additional resources to help get you inspired to tackle the next week.

Sound good?

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Dry January Week One Summary

This week, we focused on six key areas:

  1. Making a plan and setting intentions for our month of sobriety
  2. Key mindsets for achieving our goals
  3. Why quitting alcohol is good for you (even if you only plan to abstain for one month)
  4. Avoiding triggers in early sobriety
  5. Handling loved ones who don’t support your sobriety
  6. The effects of alcohol on your body from the minute you start drinking

If you missed any of these articles, definitely go back and give them a read. Next week, we’re going to focus more on navigating social scenes without drinking as well as managing emotions without alcohol. Before we do that, I want to spend some journaling time reflecting on our first week and how sober life has been treating you so far.

 

Dry January Week 1 Reflections For Sober Living
the importance of reflective journaling in sobriety

Why are we journaling so much?

It’s not because I’m a former English teacher satisfying an innate urge to assign homework, I assure you. Journaling has a TON of benefits, particularly when you do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper.

An article in Bustle from July 2018, identifies eight benefits a daily journaling practice can have on your mental and physical well being. I’ll list them here, but if you want more details, click here to read the article.

  1. Improved memory
  2. Helps manage anxiety
  3. Helps improve sleep
  4. Makes you kinder
  5. Lessens depression symptoms
  6. Improves creativity
  7. Helps you achieve goals
  8. Improves leadership skills

Because quitting alcohol often leads to a flood of emotions we must relearn how to manage, it’s good to have a space to get everything out and work through whatever is going on inside your brain.

The next section is a bit of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” journaling activity. Because that first week of sobriety can feel different for everyone, choose the section or sections that most apply to your experience and go from there. Use as many or as few of the writing prompts as you need.

This Week Was HARD As Hell 

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Have you had your fair share of tear-your-hair-out moments this week? I completely understand. The first weeks (and month) can be a bit of rollercoaster. If you were on the struggle bus this week, here are some writing prompts to help you work through it.

  • What made this week so difficult? How did you handle it? 
  • What emotions did you feel this week? 
  • Did anything happen this week that made it particularly difficult? What happened? How did it affect you?
  • Did you think about giving up? What was that like? How did you manage to persevere?
  • What motivates you to keep going into Week Two?
  • What support would you like to have moving forward? Are you getting it currently? 
  • What, if anything, do you plan to do differently next week?

I’m Having A Hard Time Processing This Week

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Sometimes that first week can be confusing. Maybe your emotions have been up and down. Or maybe you haven’t felt much at all and the days have been foggy. Whatever the case, here are some questions to help you start unpacking where you’re at with this whole no-drinking thing.

  • List out words or sketch out visual representations of what this week has been like for you. 
  • How does your mood feel different without alcohol? 
  • Have you had trouble concentrating this week? What has that been like for you? 
  • Have you been social or mostly isolated this week? Or has it been a little of both? Why do you think that is. (If you don’t know, it’s okay to say so, but try to come up with possible reasons)
  • Do any of the following words resonate with you? Numb. Dull. Indifferent. Hopeless. Just existing. If so, which ones and why? 
  • Have your emotions bounced all over the place? Were you happy one minute and a little moody the next? What was going on at the time? What do you think caused your mood swings? 
  • What do you think would help you get a better handle on this process? Do you need more support? 
  • Are you happy with how things are going so far? What, if anything, would you like to change for this next week?

I Feel Great! I’m Excited For Week Two

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Congratulations, my friend! You are riding this sobriety wave like a champ! I hope this feeling stays with you throughout the entire month, but chances are, you’re likely to experience some off days in the weeks ahead. Let’s unpack what made this week such a success and how you will tackle the rest of January (and beyond).

  • Why do you think this week was so great for you? 
  • How are you feeling physically and emotionally? Is this a big improvement to how you felt before you started Dry January? 
  • How would you best categorize your good vibe? Are you motivated, excited, happy, inspired? A combination? Talk about this. 
  • Did you have any challenges this week? How did you confront them? What worked for you? 
  • What’s your support network like right now? 
  • Sometimes difficult emotions can sneak up on us. What is your plan for handling those?
  • What are you most excited for in the weeks ahead?

I HATE This. I Want To Quit. 

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First, let me say that the fact that you’re here reading this and haven’t thrown in the towel completely is a major, major WIN. Even if you feel like punching a wall or cursing me out for saying so, you’re doing the damned thing. It is not going to feel like this forever.

There are many reasons you might be feeling this way right now, so please focus on the questions that apply best to you.

  • What is the biggest reason you want to quit right now? Is it too hard? Do you think it’s unnecessary? Are you miserable? Missing out on all the social events? 
  • Why did you want to do Dry January when you started? What benefits were you looking forward to? 
  • If you quit today, what about your life would improve? What would get worse?
  • Do you have the support you need right now? If not, what can you do? Do you attend AA? Go to a gym? Participate in online groups? See a counselor? Have a friend or family member to confide in? 
  • Is that self-sabotaging little voice in your head trying to talk you into quitting? What’s it saying? What reason does it give?
  • What’s motivating you to stay sober today? 
  • What is something good that’s happened this week?
  • What do you want out of Week Two? How can your support network and/or the Soberish community help you get there?

On an additional note, please believe me when I tell you that this too shall pass. You will get better, but you have to keep going. Let me know how I can help you do that.

Additional Resources To Get You Ready For Week Two

Want some literary “inspo” to help you through next week? Here’s my latest recommendation. (Besides, I’m sure you set a lofty Goodreads goal for 2019, so you might as well get started on it.)

Sobriety Memoirs To Help You Through Dry January

This book is out-of-this-world good and I’m sorry I’ve waited so long to read it. If you’re not familiar with Augusten Burroughs’ work, he is absolutely brilliant and writes with the humor, wit, and snark of David Sedaris, but with way more baggage. I love him. I’m highlighting excerpts on nearly every page. He says out loud (or at least writes) the things most of us have probably felt but wouldn’t dare admit to feeling.

If you’re an AA or rehab skeptic, struggle to be convinced this whole drinking thing is even a problem, or just appreciate a blunt look into the world of recovery, get this book. I’ve overshot my bedtime by at least an hour every night this week because I can’t put this down.

Click the image or here to buy this book on Amazon.

 

 

 

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Alicia is an American expat, writer living in the Middle East. She chronicles the highs and lows of early sobriety on her site www.soberish.co. To contact, please e-mail contact@soberish.co.

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