Dealing with stressful situations sober
Lists of things, The Sober Journey

Handling stressful situations sober

I am writing this at Rome airport on my way home  to London following a trip with my teenage son. Everything was going great until we were about to board the plane home, at which point we were informed there was a technical problem and we wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon!

After a long period of wondering what was happening, we were finally told that there was six-hour delay while they awaited a new part for the plane to come from Naples in a taxi, what a dismal end to an otherwise perfect week in Italy.

I decided our best bet was to use the VIP lounge as it was far more comfortable and had better facilities than the rest of the airport, so I paid the fee and in we went.
Now of course, I am feeling really stressed out at this point, I just want to get home. At this rate even if we are lucky it is going to be tomorrow before we get through the front door.

There is a free bar in the lounge with a huge range of wine, beer and spirits just a few metres away from the sofa I have sprawled myself across, it would be so easy to get a drink as a ‘solution’ to handling the stress I am feeling right now.

Of course, I won’t have a drink, I would never touch alcohol again, but I can see how a stressful situation like this could easily cause someone to cave in and have a drink, just to take the edge off. There are plenty of people around me sinking alcoholic drinks and I know a few them are on our delayed flight.

Why put a free bar right next to a stressed out ex-enthusiastic wine drinker with six hours to spare!

Free bar at Rome airport VIP lounge

The free bar (just metres away) with plenty of wine, beer and spirits at Rome airport lounge

This has made me realise that there are so many situations that could cause someone to snap and have a drink, so it is worth being prepared and having your own ‘toolkit’ in case of an emergency.

Here are 5 techniques you could consider using when you encounter a stressful situation.

1) Detach yourself – Try and find something to take you away from the place/situation you are in. For example, I am writing this blog post to take my mind away from the huge flight delay, but reading or listening to music could work equally well. Meditation is another great way to escape.

2) Turn the frown upside down – When you get stressed out it is very easy to become irritable, unreasonable and generally grumpy. Try and step back from the situation and make a conscious effort to be positive and happy, it makes a real difference to how you feel and will serve to keep you relaxed.

3) Don’t drink alcohol – OK this one is really obvious, but you may need to keep your guard up, just reach for the coffee, juice or alcohol-free drinks instead. You don’t want or need alcohol in your life.

4) Remember it will pass – As with everything it will pass, keep this in mind. Almost every stressful situation will end and you will find yourself on the other side of it and feeling at peace again.

5) Exercise – This one isn’t possible in my situation as I am stuck at an airport. However, a great way of dealing with stressful situations is to exercise. A session at the gym, a cycle or a run will often lift your mood and melt away the stressful feelings.

Update – the delay ended up being 10 hours (for a two-hour flight from Rome to London), we eventually made it back home at 1am feeling very tired and drained – but at least we made it back that night instead of the flight being cancelled.

Hopefully these stress-busting tips will help ensure you don’t reach for alcohol when you are faced with a difficult situation.


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