Sobriety is a trip. I mean that both literally and figuratively.
It is a trip in the sense that it is a journey, complete with roadblocks, delays, and detours. But it is also a trip in that it can be a total mindfuck.
One moment it’s all good – everything is easy and you’re certain you’ve made the right choice. The next, you find yourself totally confused, unsure of the future.
While this may be standard with most major life changes, there is a component to sobriety that has a compounding effect – the pink cloud.
If you are unaware of the term, the “pink cloud” refers to feelings of euphoria, extreme well-being, and pleasantness that come when you first get sober. Though this sounds like a good thing, the term usually has a negative connotation.
A quick google search on “pink cloud early sobriety” will yield multiple results suggesting it is a big, scary monster that you need to battle.
This is largely due to how it works.
First, it tricks you into thinking things are unrealistically amazing. Then when it inevitably ends, you wind up frustrated and more susceptible to relapse.
While I get it, I think the pink cloud can be a good thing – if you get in front of it.
In that light, I want to show you three ways to exploit the pink cloud and use it to your advantage.
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How To Handle The Pink Cloud Of Sobriety
1. Tie Up Loose Ends From Your Drinking Days
Everybody is different, but one thing most of us can agree on is that alcohol makes things sloppy. Whether it’s from missed opportunities, financial irresponsibility, falling behind in productivity or neglecting our physical health, when we drink too much, things get messy.
During the pink cloud days, you have tons of energy, mental clarity and a renewed sense of hope. Exploit this intense rush of positivity and use it to get shit done. For real.
In my first 100 days of sobriety, I was over the moon. The energy boost I had was unreal and the perception of having more time in my day was incredible. I remember scheduling doctor/dentist appointments, deep-cleaning my apartment and car, clearing out my closet and even working on rebuilding relationships.
I reviewed my credit card and bank statements, saw some services I’d subscribed to but no longer used and canceled them. Then I checked my credit report for errors and got a few things removed. These things weren’t super pressing before, but it felt really good to get them under control.
Now that things have settled some I’ll admit I’m less inclined to do all of the things, all of the time. But I still see benefits from that rush of activity. Credit report? Boosted. Closet? On fleek. Waist? Snatched… well, some things are still a work in progress. But you catch my drift.
2. Establish Healthy Habits & Rituals
One thing about habits, whether good or bad, is that once they stick, you’re stuck. Click To TweetOne of the best pieces of advice I can give for exploiting the pink cloud is to use that time to make good sticky habits!
One good habit that has served me well now that my pink cloud phase has ended was starting a gratitude journal. Creating a handwritten one exclusively for highlighting things that I’m genuinely happy and grateful for has boosted my morale and served me well.
Mine is this simple purple notebook, and I got a set of cute purple pens to match (because I’m fancy like that). I’m not really all that artistic, but something at least moderately pretty makes me a little happier, so yeah.
The best thing about this habit is that I’ve come to do it naturally. It’s the first thing I do most mornings, and it really sets a positive tone for the day. My first daily thoughts are pleasant ones and that’s just a lovely thing, right? What gets even better than writing is reading it, though. When I feel a little down I find it’s an instant mood booster!
There are other little habits you can start during the peak of your pink cloud. Join my newsletter and get a free pdf of tiny habit ideas that can pay off big down the line!
3. Develop Coping Strategies
A big thing many of us face when new to sobriety is coping with stressful or bad times, sans alcohol. So many people run to drinking to take their minds off unpleasant situations. Removing alcohol as a go-to means automatically finding other ways to deal.
During my pink cloud phase when difficult situations or feelings arose I was able to shrug them off. I’ll admit I had this crazy sense of positivity that I thought would last forever. Since that period has ended it’s a bit harder to deal, and I wish I’d have been more prepared.
I did a little bit of coping without alcohol, of course, because things weren’t perfect. But had I known the pink cloud was real and that it would end, things would have been better.
The most effective strategy I have now is leaning into the difficult emotions. That may sound counterintuitive but accepting the ups and downs as a natural part of life and embracing them as what makes me human is helpful. Doing the opposite of drowning emotions with liquor and going “okay, I see you… I’m going to feel you” helps because it doesn’t last forever.
Acknowledge it, accept it as something fleeting (just like the overwhelming happiness was – ha!) and then it passes.
UPDATE: Here Are 6 Ways To Cope With Stress Without Alcohol
The Pink Cloud Doesn’t Have To Be Scary
When dealing with the pink cloud in early sobriety, the best you can do to exploit it is to be aware and be prepared. For some people it never comes at all, for others, it never leaves. If you don’t get in front of it, it can be this devastating beast many people say it is, but that doesn’t have to be the case!
If you are aware, you can totally use that initial euphoric burst to your advantage. Getting shit done, establishing healthy habits that will serve you well long into the future, and creating coping strategies for tough times are three actions to take immediately to set you up for sobriety success once those fluffy pink bubbles burst.
If you’re interested, I’ve put together a pdf of tiny habit ideas to set you up for success. Enter your details below to grab it for free!
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