The New Year
As the end of the year approaches, people often reflect on the past year, taking stock of their life and well-being. They see the New Year as a starting point for a new beginning. But for people in recovery, it is important to remember that making resolutions is not about perfection. It is about progress. Making a resolution such as staying sober during the coming year is so general that it is hard to keep. According to the American Psychological Association, giving yourself one big goal may make it difficult to achieve. It is easier to keep resolutions with smaller goals that will result in healthy changes in your life.
Whether or not you choose to make New Year’s resolutions is completely up to you. If you’re in recovery and want to make some resolutions, here are five possibilities that will strengthen your commitment to lifelong sobriety.
1. Begin a Gratitude List
Too often when a person is struggling with recovery, they focus on the negative, seeing only the things that are going wrong. They lose sight of the good that still exists. By making a resolution to begin a gratitude list, you remind yourself of the many good things in your life. Begin each day or end each night by writing down at least one thing in your life that you are thankful for. For example, you could include a pet that gives you unconditional love, a friend that is supportive, a comfortable bed to sleep in at night, the sunshine, or being able to see the beautiful sights of nature. Use the list as a reminder of the positive things in your life.
2. Make Time for Care for Yourself
Take time for yourself to do something you enjoy. Whether you set aside 5 minutes a day to meditate, go for a walk, practice yoga, or take a dance class, doing what you enjoy will make you feel peaceful and empowered. Make sure to take care of yourself physically, too. Get plenty of rest, eat a diet of healthy foods you like, and exercise gently most days of the week. Taking good care of yourself also means taking time to enjoy life, relax, and really believe that you deserve to treat yourself with kindness and compassion.
3. Share Your Story
When you attend your group therapy session or 12-step meetings, be an active participant. By sharing your experiences and thoughts, you become more involved in your recovery and connect with individuals who have similar experiences and stories. People in recovery are more likely to experience positive growth and make continual progress when they take a more active role in their treatment.
4. Pay It Forward
When you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, you cannot focus on the people around you. Recovery can be a time to rediscover how you can serve others. Finding ways to pay it forward or give back to others will strengthen your relationships with people around you and build your self-confidence. Volunteer to help kids with homework after school, or help an elderly neighbor with her groceries. Pay for a stranger’s coffee, walk dogs at an animal shelter, or help serve meals at a homeless shelter. There are numerous groups and organizations in need of volunteers. Positive interactions like these can strengthen your commitment to sobriety.
5. Ask for Help When you Need It
Resolve to ask for help when you feel an urge to have a drink or use your drug of choice, or when you’re feeling low or angry. Call your sponsor. If you need a ride to a therapy appointment or a 12-step meeting, call a friend you trust, explain the situation, and ask for a ride. You may not feel comfortable at first asking for help, but it is an important aspect of the recovery process. By asking for physical help or emotional support, you will get the right kind of support you need to maintain your sobriety and good mental health.
Always keep in mind that living one day at a time is an important part of living a life in recovery. Be mindful and stay focused on how you are living today, and work on your recovery program to the best of your ability.