8 Ways to Keep Improving Your Life In Recovery
For many people struggling with substance abuse and addiction issues, one of the hardest things to do is ask for help. Feelings of guilt and shame associated with alcohol and drug dependency are difficult to overcome, but the good news is that most people see a dramatic improvement when they get treatment. Often the next challenge is developing lifelong habits that will keep that hard earned recovery from drugs and alcohol moving in a positive direction.
8 Relapse Tips for Keeping Positive Momentum in Recovery
1. Make Overall Health a Priority – overall physical wellbeing plays a large part in keeping an optimistic perspective on life. A run down body can translate into negative thoughts and feelings about oneself and start a slippery slope toward relapse. Make a plan to eat healthy and get regular exercise in whatever capacity you’re able to. That might be biking, joining a gym or walking for thirty minutes a day at a brisk pace. The cumulative effect of these small but essential choices can help keep those feel good-endorphins moving through the mind.
2. Find a Supportive Community – recovering from addiction can be very isolating for some people, especially once they leave the supportive environment of their treatment center. Make it a point to be social with others in recovery, whether this is in relapse prevention therapy, 12 step self-help meetings or SMART Recovery groups. Listening to others who shared similar struggles, as well as sharing your own, helps you realize you’re not alone.
3. Try New Things – a great way to move forward in recovery is to try new things. There’s a great big world of things out there. From skydiving to cooking classes, life is better and more interesting when we get out of our comfort zone and take on a new challenge. This is the perfect time to start working through your bucket list. You don’t have a bucket list? What are you waiting for?
4. Improve Your Employment – addiction has a way of ruining a person’s personal and professional life if left untreated for too long. Many people find that after treatment, they’re starting from scratch again. It might take time, but getting and keeping employment will remove the insecurity of financial dependence on others and work wonders for your confidence in recovery. If you already have a job, dive in head first and focus on making it even better. If you need to find one, consider something new that you’re passionate about. Remember, this is the start of a new beginning.
5. Practice Mindful Meditation Techniques – the practice of meditation sounds very “new age” to some people, but a study at Johns Hopkins found that regular daily meditation provided as much relief from depression and anxiety as some medications. Meditation, even done in five or ten minute sessions, is great for calming a racing mind. With consistent practice, individuals are able to “get out” of their heads and be more aware of their bodies.
6. Help Others – giving back to the community or to individuals in need is an extremely positive way to feel good about yourself while helping others. Whether this is working with others in recovery or donating your time to a local charity, soup kitchen or reading the blind their mail, lending a hand to others will help you feel needed and useful.
7. Practice Positivity – while this seems simple on the surface, learning to keep a positive attitude when chaos abounds is difficult, but not impossible, to do. Make a habit of not dwelling on negative thoughts. Smile for a minute or more and make a note of how that makes you feel. The brain responds to what you feed it. Avoid toxic people and watching the news because it’s mostly filled with negative stories. Spend more time with uplifting people reading books and watching movies or TV shows that make you feel good.
8. Take Care of Yourself – make a practice each day of checking in with yourself, ask yourself what you need or what’s been missing in your day-to-day life. Reward yourself with a movie in a theater or maybe at home on the couch. If you haven’t spent enough time outside lately, plan a hike and get some sun on your face. Whatever it is, be sure to be good to yourself. You and your sobriety deserve it.
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