I was introduced to the 12 Steps in AA, at the beginning of my journey, over 7 1/2 years ago.
I remain eternally grateful for the guiding principles that were set out which I followed and have helped and supported me in my recovery.
The principle behind the 12th Step is all about service
But even if you don’t follow the 12 steps of AA, the point about giving back and doing something of service to others is an honourable trait. It acknowledges our empathy as human beings and promotes a generosity of spirit.
And here’s the good news.
By helping others, you get a feel-good boost that improves your mental health and makes you feel happier. But the most important aspect you gain from giving back is that it strengthens your sobriety in the following ways –
- By reminding you of your early recovery phase. Nobody wants to purposely go back to that point at the start of their sober journey.
- It makes you accountable. By helping others, you’re holding yourself to account too.
- Others are inspired by your actions and your approach to sobriety
- You form new bonds and friendships. And often these friendships are different from those you used to drink with
- Giving back provides you with a sense of purpose.
Research shows that giving back to others can improve your attitude and make you healthier, happier, and less stressed. So why not give it a go. You may be surprised by the results!
5 easy ways to help you start giving back
Become a volunteer
Volunteering doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming. There are a variety of ways in which you can give back by giving up some of your time. And you can give as little or as much as you choose.
If you have children, a fun way to volunteer is with a local scout or girl guiding group. They’re always looking for new volunteers. You’ll get to take part in a range of fun activities and it’s an ideal way to spend quality time with the kids.
However, if camping, crafting, and being surrounded by kids isn’t your thing, perhaps you could volunteer to sit and chat with some old folk at a local care centre. Or volunteer a couple of hours at a local charity shop or food bank.
Volunteering creates new connections and often results in new friendships. But better still, it can enhance your CV and help with your career.
Volunteering links you to your community. And research shows that giving back can even help you stay physically healthy.
Help out a friend in need
We all lead busy lives. And giving back should never increase stress or lead to burnout.
It doesn’t need to be a burden. A simple phone call to a friend is an easy way of being strong for others.
Perhaps you know a friend who’s going through a tough time. Often just a conversation can help them through their day. Knowing that somebody cares and there’s someone there to talk to can have a positive impact on their wellbeing.
Helping out friends not only strengthens relationships but also increases your own self-esteem. Try carrying out one of the following suggestions next time you see a friend struggling –
- Offer to take the children for a couple of hours so they can enjoy some “me” time
- Cook a meal and invite the round or drop it off to them
- Head out for a walk with them. It’s much easier to talk about difficulties when walking. And exercise increases feel-good endorphins
- Don’t be afraid to talk about your sobriety. But never force the issue or come across as patronising. If you feel a friend is struggling with alcohol, listen and try to offer advice. The best way to encourage others to give up alcohol is to inspire them with your joy for sobriety.
Need to know how to chat to a friend or partner about sobriety? Take a look at these tips for how to approach the conversation.
Do something for charity
We may all need a little help from charity at some point in our lives. Taking part in a charity event or raising money for a charity is an excellent way to give back.
There are thousands of charities out there that need support. It doesn’t have to be a sober or addiction-based charity. Choose a local charity or pick a cause that’s close to your heart.
If you have the time, sign up for an event. A brilliant (and fun) way to embrace and consolidate your sobriety is through exercise. By signing up for a charity fitness-based challenge you’re not only giving back through sponsorship and awareness but you’ll also focus on yourself and your fitness goals.
If time is an issue, there are other ways to give to charity. Go through your wardrobe and donate some old clothes. Or when shopping, pop a couple of items into the foodbank trolley.
Every act or donation is a way of giving back to others.
Carry out some random acts of kindness
Imagine pulling into the supermarket and there’s only 1 space left. There’s another car waiting to park, but when they spot you looking at your watch, they offer you the space. How happy would that make you feel?
Or perhaps you arrive at work to find your favourite chocolate bar on your desk with a little note. It makes you smile, yes?
Never underestimate the power that being kind to others has. No matter how big or small the gesture.
Random acts of kindness don’t need to involve pots of money or take up a lot of your time. Yet a very simple act can make someone’s day a whole lot brighter.
Here are 10 ideas to help you pop a random act of kindness into your day –
- When waiting in a queue, let somebody go in front of you. Especially if you can see they’re stressed or in a hurry.
- Pay it backward. When ordering a coffee, pay for 2. The person behind will get a surprise coffee for free.
- Bake some cakes for work. Or drop some cakes off to a local care home, fire station or school staffroom.
- Teach your children the joys of kindness by helping them donate some old toys to children who need them.
- Compliment the first 3 people you speak to.
- Go on a litter pick around the neighborhood
- Take the time to write a great review for your favourite restaurant.
- Smile! A smile can say more than a thousand words.
- Leave positive notes in places where others can find them.
- Leave an inspiring book where somebody in need can find it.
Even the smallest of gestures can make a huge difference to somebody’s day.
And the best bit?
You’ll feel uplifted and happier too.
Join sober communities, locally or online
One of the best ways to strengthen your sobriety and give back to others is to directly help those struggling with alcohol.
It doesn’t need to involve gaining qualifications or becoming a trained counsellor. It can be as simple as joining an online sober community and offering advice and support.
It’ll also act as a reminder of how far you’ve come in your own sober journey. Helping others helps yourself.
Advice: If you feel joining sober communities may act as a trigger, avoid this step.
Be proud of your achievements. There is freedom in sobriety
We are the lucky ones. To have broken free from the addictive grip of a poison like alcohol is a feat not many are able to do successfully. It needs to be celebrated and not disguised.
In the early days of sobriety, it is often easier to use an excuse. You’re on medication or you need to drive to get home. But as you grow and progress along your sober journey, embrace your new freedom. You’ve defeated an enemy that others are still fighting.
Your friends may “joke” about sobriety, but nobody knows how many of them are secretly wishing they had your motivation and strength to break away from the drinking “norms” or society.
To be sober is to live freely. Be proud of your sobriety. Be bold about what you want out of life. Encourage others to see that sobriety means every morning is a blessing rather than a hungover curse.
And where you can, strengthen your sobriety through service and the joy of giving back.
Need help to break free from alcohol for good?
For me, giving back is a lifestyle. It gives me a purpose and fills me with gratitude for the chances I have been given.
This is why I dedicate my time to sober coaching. It brings me joy to help others live a life of freedom away from alcohol.
If you’re struggling with alcohol-related problems, I offer a 12 week 1:1 sober coaching programme to help you overcome any obstacles holding you back and map a new way forward. After 12 weeks, you’ll have activated a new level of self-belief, using your new superpower to make empowered choices feeling alive, excited, and free.
You CAN and should be proud of sobriety. Book a free discovery call with me today and start putting yourself ad your dreams first.