The recovery process is filled with many emotions. You may be scared to face this new life but excited to be freed from your addiction. As you move further in your recovery, you will see that each day is a new beginning. While there are ups and downs, recovery does not have to be miserable. There are ways to make it more pleasant, and this comes from finding joy in your life.
Let’s discuss the most effective ways that you can experience everyday happiness in your life.
Give attention to your strengths, not your weaknesses.
Far too often, recovering addicts focus on the negative aspects in their life. This could be any type of negative thinking, whether it’s a poor attitude toward recovery or dwelling on past failures and weaknesses.
It’s understandable why you may be in a negative frame of mind. You’ve probably hit rock bottom and also have a chemical imbalance in the brain. But, you must refocus your attention on the positive aspects of your life.
What are some of the things that make you special? Surely, you have positive strengths that you can develop over time. Are you a good listener? Do you empathize with others? Do you have a passion for helping animals? Remember, you are much more than a disease. You are a person with plenty of good to offer the world.
Surround yourself with positive people who support your recovery.
The people you hang out with after treatment will influence your recovery, so you want to choose them wisely. It’s recommended to cut ties with friends who aren’t sober because you can’t have these triggers around you. But, there’s another important factor to consider, and that’s positive people. If you spend time with people who are sober but pessimistic, it can make it difficult to find happiness in your life.
The best people to be with right now are those who support your recovery. They may not be perfect all the time (no one is), but they should:
- Offer you emotional support
- Celebrate your progress
- Build you up with supportive words
- Help you put your recovery first
- Keep your mind off drugs and alcohol
- Attend support groups with you
Hopefully, you have friends and family in your life that can provide this support, but we realize that not everyone does. If your immediate relatives don’t offer support, extend your network to those in your 12 step groups, church groups, etc.
Learn how to manage stress levels.
Stress can be a trigger to relapse, so you must learn how to recognize and manage it. Some people think that stress is a normal part of life and we have no choice but to deal with it, but there are ways to make it more tolerable and less harmful to your health. When you learn to identify and control your stress levels, you can find more joy in life.
Here are a few tips for effectively managing everyday stress.
- Budget your time and energy
- Slow down and enjoy small moments
- Avoid getting involved in other people’s drama
- Put your needs first
- Learn when to say no to requests and invitations
- Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga and journaling
Practice being present in the now.
One of the techniques that is taught in early recovery is mindfulness meditation. The purpose of mindful meditation is to concentrate where you are at the moment. For example, if you’re washing dishes, focus on the warm water, the smell of the soap and the warmth on your skin. Doing this helps you to be more present instead of worrying about the future or replaying the past.
When you learn to be present, you don’t have to be consumed by the past and the future. You can take control of the moment you have and find pleasure in them. You’ve already come far in your sobriety. As you enjoy small moments in life, remember that they have been given to you because of your hard work.
Discover new ways to have fun.
Some addicts admit that they don’t know how to have fun without drugs and alcohol. This is because they’ve forgotten how to enjoy things while being sober. It is a transition, but you will discover new ways to have fun. Until your brain chemistry returns to normal, you may have to “force” yourself to try new things.
The best advice is to keep an open mind about the activities you try. Just because you thought bowling was boring years ago doesn’t mean it will be now. Or, you may find a new appreciation for art or music after going through your journey.
To find activities that can lead to enjoyment, here are a few tips to try.
- Go anywhere that is interesting, such as a zoo or museum
- Go someplace new like a theater or comedy night
- Revisit an old hobby you used to enjoy
- Join a friend on one of their outings
- Take a class at the local library or park district
- Pick out new recipes to cook and eat
- Volunteer your time
List out the things that you are grateful for each day.
Take a few minutes to write down or recap the things you are grateful for. When you take the time to recognize the good in your life – a certain person, a safe home or the ability to get up and walk – you support positive thinking and brain functions. We recommend writing down what you are grateful for first thing in the morning so that you set the stage for a happy, positive day. But, you can do whatever works for you.
Keeping track of the things you are grateful for also helps you see your progress. When you first started your journey, you may have been grateful for the treatment center or the family member who forced you to get help. At this point in your recovery, you may be able to look deeper and appreciate yourself and your purpose in this world.
Experiencing Joy in Recovery IS Possible
Finding joy in recovery is possible. Recovery has its ups and downs, but if you follow the tips above, you can keep yourself grounded. The mind has a way of dwelling on the past and future rather than being present in the moment. Until your brain heals, you may have to work harder to find happiness in everyday things. But, once you start practicing mindfulness, gratefulness and self-awareness, we assure you that your outlook on life will be changed for the better.
Are you ready to start your journey to sobriety? Call Continuum Recovery Center at 602-903-2999 for your free, confidential assessment.
Geffen has been in the field for over 20 years, and has worked in every facet of substance abuse treatment. Using his own personal experience in recovery and the education he has learned while in the field, Geffen can relate and connect with clients in a way that promotes recovery, self love and the desire for clients to achieve the best for themselves. Geffen is licensed in Arizona as a substance abuse counselor and has an IC&RC certification, as well as a life coaching certification.