by Jimmy Warden
Sober October has actually been far from a sobering experience. It has not deflated me, it has not derailed me, nor will it defeat me. Rather, it has empowered me. It has empowered me to engage in a self-chosen struggle, which has granted me the opportunity to understand more about my mind, body, and spirit. I have come to the realization that those three aspect of my being are much stronger than I imagined. I am hoping with this post, you too, can feel empowered with the choices we make on a daily basis.
Let’s start with the mind. Often times, I say to myself, “oh, I need a coffee right now” or “man, a beer would be great right now” or even “it’s been a long week, I deserve to eat all the pizza and desserts”. There isn’t a problem with having these thoughts, they’re human nature. There’s also not a problem with consuming any of these items either, but these thoughts when put into action, create a crutch. Something to lean on when life is not going the way I want it to or when I need something external to relieve our stress.
This stress comes from the various forms of chaos (big and small) that I face each day. This leads to a feeling of emptiness, like we’re lacking in some way, shape, or form, hence why I lean on these crutches when I’m stressed or depressed. This stress stems from fearful and anxious about the future and the depression stems from self-defeating thoughts. The big idea that is forgotten, however, is that these are all just thoughts. I am the creator of these thoughts and I have the choice to agree with them and fixate on them or just notice them and let them go if they are not serving me a positive purpose. When I agree with the self-defeating thoughts or let our fears take me over, that opens the gate for me to reach for that second or third coffee, crack open another beer, have an excess amount of sweets, or engage in whatever my “fix” is.
Sober October has been helping me face this dilemma head on (Ha! Psychology jokes). By eliminating caffeine, alcohol, processed sugar, and any other mind/body altering substances, I have taken away my crutches to face the real problem at hand, and that problem is handling stress organically. Since then, I have actually more clarity in my thinking because I no longer have substances to distract or numb my mind. Yes, I “let go” of thoughts, but I am more mindful and aware of what I’m thinking at any given time because I’m taking the time to recognize the root of where the thoughts are coming from instead of repressing them. Not only has Sober October helped me start to clear my mind, it has also helped me start to clear my body, too.
My body has felt like it’s been functioning efficiently and it’s feeling even better than it did while I was a collegiate athlete. Sure, less physical stress on the body is one reason, but another part of it is that now I’m more aware of what I’m eating and how much I’m eating. I didn’t have to worry about that too much in college because I was burning so many calories, so I could get away without being aware of y consumptions. However, I had a tendency to over-consume (mostly at dinner) to the point that all of the blood in my body would rush to my stomach, and I’d be ready to hibernate. This lethargy would carry over to the following morning, so I’d try to counteract that feeling with more coffee than I needed. I have found it interesting during this journey how well the body can perform, at a much more sustainable level throughout a day when it is fueled properly.
During the time I’ve been partaking in Sober October, my body has been recovering well and performing well. I have been exercising before the sun rise on most days and they haven’t necessarily been easy workouts, but they’ve been manageable, for me. My routine usually consists of a quarter mile of walking lunges, at least 100 push-ups and 100 reps of some type of ab workout, as well as 50 pull-ups. Nothing crazy, but it does the job! Surprisingly, waking up at 4:45 hasn’t been too much trouble either. My hypothesis is that the sobriety has been helping me sustain a consistent level of energy throughout the day, rather than experiencing highs and lows, from caffeine and other substances. This is also helping me stay in high spirits for multiple days in a row.
Personally, I like to think of my spirit as my “way of being” or “character”. How I present to the world. Since beginning Sober October, my spirit has had a couple of lows during the first couple of days because of the drastic changes I was making overnight with my body, which also altered my mind. Since then, my spirit has been quite upbeat and calm, simultaneously. Almost like a flow state. It is because I am engaged in this challenge. I am engaged in it mostly to do something difficult, but also to see if I can create any lasting changes. I also know that I have a tendency to feel more anxious and emotional when I am over-caffeinated and I feel worthless and depressed the next if and when I over-consume alcohol or other mind-body altering substances. Needless to say, overconsumption does not help my spirit.
However, what does help my spirit is taking on a challenge and pursuing a new goal. Once achieved, the feeling of positive emotion is like a scout receiving a badge or an athlete receiving a gold medal. It imbibes me. It places me a “notch higher” than I was the day before. It makes me feel like I have something to offer to those who are also on the path of improvement. It gives my life more meaning.
My mind, body, and spirit have only grown stronger during the time I’ve been doing Sober October. My mind’s mental fog has begun to clear and with each day, thoughts get a little clearer, too, and negative thoughts have begun to get quiet. My boy has been holding strong considering I’m putting “less” into it. My body’s sustainability has been on point due to exercise and applied mindfulness around consumptions of food, beverage, and stimulants this month. I actually feel it helps I’m forgoing stimulants because that’s part of what’s creating the sustainability. This could perhaps be a new chapter in my life where I discover a new way of being, which will help me manifest a more authentic spirit. This new authentic will still be me, but it will be the whole me and nothing but me. My true self. And just know, you could have this feeling, too.