Getting sober is an incredible accomplishment. Staying clean can be another challenge itself, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Many people believe self-care is the key to successful sobriety.
Be Kind & Co recently caught up KTLA 5 News Anchor and author Courtney Friel, who is celebrating over a decade of sobriety this month. Courtney shared tips on how to deal with sobriety and how she stays sober in quarantine.
Courtney, how long have you been sober and how have you been dealing with sobriety during these last few months of Covid-19?
As of September 9th, I’m 11 years sober!
COVID-19 has been a challenging time for everyone and I’m so glad I’m not in early sobriety. I’m very grateful to have a job, but I think because I’m covering the virus so much- I feel extra frustrated, and can’t just turn off the news like normal people. I started setting my phone timer for twenty minutes and writing down my thoughts when I’m really irritated. That helps calm me down.
I’m also keeping up with my daily meditation practice (twenty-two minutes a day), going to a couple twelve-step Zoom meetings a week, and I started intermittent fasting during COVID so I don’t snack late at night and feel better about myself. I lost ten pounds in four months!
What advice would you give to someone who thinks they may be drinking too much due to stress and isolation?
First, I would ask them how alcohol is improving the situation. Booze may be temporarily numbing the emotions, but it’s a depressant, so it’s likely sending them into a worse depression.
I would encourage them to stop drinking for a month and see how they feel. If you don’t have a problem with alcohol then that should be a piece of cake to do.
Are there signs that we should look for if we think we may have a drinking problem?
Can you have just one or two glasses and not keep going? Are people getting upset by your behavior when you drink? Are you drinking all day long or hiding your alcohol from someone? Are you missing work or other responsibilities due to drinking or being hungover all the time? No one can be their best self hungover!
For those who are in the early stages of sobriety, can you share some of the healthy habits that work for you?
Meditation is my biggest tool for staying sober. It is natural Xanax. Takes away worry and keeps you calm. Now is the best time ever to try out a twelve-step meeting via Zoom because you don’t have to go in person; you can keep your camera off and just observe.
How important is it to take one day at a time? Do you have mantras you share with yourself?
Meditation helps with not “future tripping” about not being able to drink at a certain event. It keeps you present and cuts out worry. Two of my favorite mantas are “be easy on yourself, let life come to you” and “everything is happening around me and I am taken care of.”
It’s been said that reaching out to at least one person a day to say hello, check in or say something nice can help with the stress of staying focused on sobriety. Do you agree?
I hope so because I try to do that with my newly sober friends. I send text messages or voice notes and, more importantly, I ask them to do a sober activity with me or come to a twelve-step meeting.
Often when someone is struggling to stay sober, and especially during times like these, our mind starts to rationalize the need for a drink. How do you combat that?
What was drilled into my head over and over again at rehab was that nothing gets better when you drink or drug! Your problems and feelings are still going to be there when you wake up from your hangover, and then you will feel worse and have delayed the issue. It’s better to just deal with the feelings and problems in a healthy matter, and then they go away quicker.
What are your thoughts on support groups for sobriety?
Sometimes it’s helpful to just speak about your problem out loud to others, or cry it out to them. It’s a release, and a support group will listen and not judge you because we’ve all been there. We want to help the newcomer or give advice to someone struggling.
A lot of people drink to mellow out and feel less stressed. If you can’t drink, how do you find that release?
Meditate, meditate, meditate! Exercise, go for a long walk. Take a bath and light some candles! My favorite place to go relax, although it’s been closed due to COVID-19, is the Korean spa— it’s super cheap to use the saunas and steam rooms and then get a body scrub or massage!
If someone is struggling, where are the best places to reach out to?
Now is the best time ever to audit a twelve-step meeting on Zoom. You can join in all over the world at any time of day without even leaving your bed and remain anonymous by not turning on your camera. Soak up all the stories and see how you relate.
For an inside look into Courtney’s road to sobriety and much more advice, read Courtney’s book, Tonight at 10: Kicking Booze and Breaking News, out now on Amazon.