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Tracking Sobriety Progress: Tangible Ways to Measure Your Journey

In the early days of sobriety, setting targets can be a natural inclination. For me, reaching day 3 was a pivotal milestone, and then day 10, with a larger goal of achieving 30 days sober. However, instead of using the term "target" or "goal," I prefer to refer to these as "milestones." This shift in terminology is subtle but significant for our mindset. A milestone is merely a marker along the way—a moment to pause, reflect, and then continue forward, rather than a finish line after which we return to old habits (think of Dry January, followed by a celebratory round of drinks on February 1st!).


Tracking our progress along this journey can sometimes feel challenging, so here are six simple and tangible ways to measure your sobriety progress:


  1. Notice Changes in Appearance: Pay attention to how your skin and eyes look. If you haven't taken a "before" photo, consider doing so. You'll likely notice improvements after just 10 days, and by day 30, others may start asking for your secret to radiant skin and eyes.

  2. Track Your Sleep: Use a sleep tracker if you have one, or simply jot down notes each morning. Record how quickly you fell asleep, your ability to stay asleep, and how you felt upon waking. Sleep disturbances are common initially, but improvements should become noticeable over time, leading to what I like to call "Sober Sleep."

  3. Monitor Energy Levels: Rate your energy levels on a scale of 1 to 10 daily. Fatigue is common in the early stages of sobriety, so don't be discouraged. Embrace the need for rest, and you should see your energy levels stabilize after a while.

  4. Observe Urine Color and Digestive Health: It may not be glamorous, but urine color and bowel movements can provide valuable insights into your body's response to sobriety. Alcohol dehydration and gut inflammation can cause digestive issues similar to IBS. Notice changes in urine color (from dark and strong-smelling to pale and odorless) and improvements in bowel regularity and consistency.

  5. Evaluate Interpersonal Relationships: Mindfully observe how your relationships with loved ones, colleagues, and friends evolve. Irritability is common initially, but as your brain adjusts and you develop new coping strategies (like setting boundaries and practicing mindfulness), relationships should improve. Periodically seek feedback from those close to you to gauge your progress.

  6. Measure Resting Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: If you have the technology available, track your resting heart rate and blood pressure. These metrics can be powerful indicators of improving heart health in sobriety.

It's important to remember that the journey of sobriety is not linear. Each day's data point does not define your entire sobriety experience. Instead, take time to reflect at each milestone and consider the overall trajectory. We already know where alcohol has led us; now, let's get curious about what sobriety has to offer.


Sobriety is freedom.

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