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The start of the New Year is an excellent opportunity to take a good look at your recovery plan and add some things to your routine to help keep you sober. The key to maintaining sobriety is never going to be one thing, but a combination of various approaches, making use of many different tips and techniques, learning what works and what doesn’t and a willingness to try something new.
GO TO MORE MEETINGS
There’s no better way to begin the New Year than putting meeting attendance at the top of the daily to-do list. Whether long-time sober or new to sobriety, regular participation in 12-Step meetings is an integral part of effective long-term recovery. Everyone encounters challenging situations, some of which can derail sobriety in a matter of hours. It helps to have people to talk with who’ve been there and can share their experiences during rough times. Indeed, this is one of the foundations of 12-Step meetings.
Instead of always going to one meeting location, add some variety by checking out other groups. Use smartphone apps like Addicaid and ACHESS to find local meetings.
MAINTAIN GOOD SELF-CARE
Now is a good time to ditch unhealthy habits like eating poorly, eating the wrong foods, failing to get enough sleep and being too sedentary. Replace them with healthy choices that will not only make you feel better, they’ll also help in developing self-respect and hope. Along with strength, simple habits can restore a feeling of overall self-worth and contribute to overall well-being as a sober person.
Key aspects of good self-care include the following:
- Making better food choices. Eating balanced, nutritious meals regulates blood sugar and helps cut down on cravings and urges.
- Aiming for consistent good sleep. This is one of the linchpins of good self-care. During restful sleep, the body heals and restores itself, contributing to an overall sense of well-being and the confidence to greet the new day.
- Adding exercise daily. Regular exercise serves as a ready outlet to relieve stress. It also helps keep the body in shape and releases endorphins that help lift mood.
ESTABLISH NEW ROUTINES
Daily life should be more than a repetition of the same routines. Granted, some things you do must be done daily, including the core items most important to sobriety. This doesn’t mean that you can’t switch the order of doing various tasks or that you can’t add something new. In fact, recovery experts recommend establishing new routines as a way to keep sobriety fresh, maintain interest and motivation and encourage action.
PURSUE MEANINGFUL GOALS
Many times, people new to recovery believe they should defer goals to focus solely on sobriety. While staying sober must take priority, this does not preclude pursuing dreams and worthwhile goals. Doing something that makes you feel good and helps fulfill a heartfelt desire is very beneficial to long-term recovery.
Another secret to maintaining sobriety is to get into the practice of completing goals each day. Starting with smaller goals may be easier to put some items in the completed column. But it’s also worth doing research or reading to make some progress toward longer-term or more complicated goals that take time to achieve.
Goals should never be static. They will change as you work through them, and this is something to both anticipate and embrace. This is especially important as you meet new people, develop different interests and find opportunities to further explore.
One tool that’s always available is self-talk. Self-talk is an internal dialogue that helps reframe perspective and can assist in honing in on recovery goals. It helps you to remind yourself what’s true, why you want to stay sober and what life was like when you weren’t. Repeating slogans like “one day at a time” and “recovery works if you work it” are examples of self-talk.
TEND TO SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
It isn’t just the body that needs special attention in recovery. Spiritual and emotional health are equally important. There are multiple approaches that are effective in helping restore and rebuild a sense of balance and overall well-being in sobriety.
Some of the most well-known techniques are:
- Meditation – This centuries-old mind and body process not only increases a sense of calm and relaxation, it also has been shown in studies to reduce blood pressure, ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, alleviate pain and help promote healthy behaviors.
- Yoga – In addition to its ability to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, yoga helps improve balance, strength, flexibility and overall health.
- Prayer –It’s not necessary to be religious to benefit from prayer. Calling on a Higher Power or your inner spirit can help put things in perspective, reduce tension and stress, and produce an overall feeling of well-being. To revamp your recovery plan, prayer is a no-cost, easy approach that pays handsome dividends.
- Journaling – This technique helps you keep in touch with internal thoughts and feelings and promotes strength and motivation. Journaling also serves as an outlet to express frustration. Different journal types include stream of consciousness, daily, spiritual, service and health, and gratitude.
- Walking in nature – Another simple and quick way to add zest and produce healthy benefits is walking. While any type of walk will do, the most relaxing is likely to engage in walking outdoors. The fresh air brings oxygen to the lungs, while the exercise of walking produces endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemical. For an immediate lift in mood as well to stave off cravings and urges, consider walking outside at lunch, after work, on the weekends or whenever you have a few minutes.
LEAN ON SUPPORT
Support networks, like 12-Step groups, are an invaluable help in the recovery toolkit. Whether it’s trying to manage cravings and urges or just having someone to talk with who’ll listen nonjudgmentally, support groups are a readily available asset to add to your routine. Attend regular meetings, work with your sponsor, find new sober friends and build on your sobriety efforts in a safe and supportive community.
CREATE A RESCUE PACKET
While no one wants to think about relapse, the fact is that relapse is common in recovery. The key point to remember is that relapse doesn’t mean failure. It’s also possible to prevent relapse by being proactive and having a rescue packet on hand to make use of when you feel yourself about to slip.
A solid rescue packet will include:
- Emergency contacts
- Support help lines
- Information on dosages, medication names, complications
- Relapse prevention techniques you learned about in treatment
MAKE IT A POINT TO HELP OTHERS
Another important part of healing and making headway in sobriety is helping others. This provides meaning and purpose to life, helps remove a constant focus on troubles and assists in defusing feelings of worthlessness and confusion.