Day 3: Get A Baseline

Inspirational song: Silence. Really — no audio, no video, just five minutes of listening to your own breath.

“Life is just so painful and messy and hard and worth it and all that stuff.” – Robert Downey Jr.

Many people can benefit from a break from alcohol. You may notice subtle health issues you never connected to alcohol. Get a baseline of your physical and mental status today, so you can compare later this month, to see how taking a break helped.

Mood/cognitive/energy: Are you anxious, irritable, sad, hopeless, distractible, restless, arrogant, impulsive, depressed, easily defeated, or low energy (dishes piling up, take-out too often)? Have you felt shame or guilt recently?

Sleep: Do you need alcohol to get to sleep? Do you wake in the middle of the night? If you use something like a FitBit, do you notice a difference in how you sleep when you drink?  Do you have a hard time waking up?

Physical: How does your stomach feel? Any irritation in upper or lower tummy (e.g., heartburn)? Gas or bloating? Allergies?

Appearance: Are there dark circles or bags under your eyes? Skin blotchy or dry?

Interpersonal: How are you getting along with your loved ones? Are you less patient the day after you drink? Do you over-react? Less predictable?

This month is about seeing what happens in these areas when taking a break from alcohol.

If something pushes your buttons, and you find yourself really wanting a drink, try “urge surfing.” Harm-reduction pioneer G Alan Marlatt noted that urges for substance-use rarely last longer than 30 minutes. If you can “surf” the urge – observe it without acting – you can usually ride it out. Try it: When you notice an urge to drink come up, don’t slap it down. Watch it. Mentally pick it up and turn it around, looking at it. Listen to what the urge tells you, without acting on it. See how you feel one hour from now. Did the urge subside like a wave? Was the need to act on it as urgent as it seemed to be at the peak of it?

This month is an experiment to see if taking a break from alcohol helps you achieve more of your goals. Many people find it to be a very worthwhile investment. I find I’m much more productive during the months I don’t drink.  Others find they have more time and renew hobbies that have fallen aside.  And many are surprised at what the break did and didn’t do for them. See what it can do for you.

Post Submitted By: Donna

The Baseline Post has become a Dryuary tradition. We’ll ask you to do another assessment at the end of the month. It is always an eye-opener for Dryuary participants when they witness how much change takes place in a few weeks. See you at the end of Dryuary!

3 thoughts on “Day 3: Get A Baseline

  1. Kary May Hickey Post author

    I noticed a lot of changes when I quit drinking, the most important being my blood pressure dropped back to normal limits, the most rewarding, physically, was that I lost about 20 pounds while eating anything I wanted. But now, 7 years later, the weight has crept back up 10 pounds and the blood pressure is not consistently where it should be so my goal this month is to break the sugar habit with which I replaced my alcohol habit. (Before anyone pipes up to say, “I’m not a big sweet eater.” just wait until your body hasn’t had any alcohol for a week.)
    So, today, I’m grumpy. I’ve kind of wandered this earth for the last 7 years feeling like, “I’ve given up the alcohol, the love of my life, I shouldn’t have to give up anything else.” But, I guess if life is about continuous growth and improvement, we have to continue to say good-bye to the things that may have served us well in the past-I don’t know if I could have gotten sober without ice cream. Seriously.-and find new things that serve us better in the present.

  2. Jerry Porter

    That message resonates with me, covers all the bases I experience when I am drinking. Thanks for articulating them. I will be(am already)noticing things appearing differently than the usual “day after”. For me it was an EVERY day after as I choose to drink nightly.

  3. Kary May Hickey Post author

    This post was written by Donna D. a long-time member of MM and a member of MM’s Board of Directors. MM, literally wouldn’t be what it is today without Donna. Thank you, Donna. We love you!

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