You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. – Rabindranath Tagore
Many words in our language have different meanings for each of us – it’s part of our individuality. Say the word “addiction” to an alcoholic or substance abuser and the reactions you’ll get will vary – self-denial, defensive, a lot of emotions hitting them all at once. Yet all of them are experts in addiction itself, in their own way. They know the cost; some have realized it’s too high a price and seek recovery, whereas others continue to pay, slowly but surely, every day of their lives. Finally admitting to yourself that you have no control over the situation is the first step towards the needed recovery.
Addiction is a chronic and incurable disease. It lasts your entire life, you cannot take a pill to make it go away, or go through treatment to remove the disease from your body. Truth is, it will always be there. However, the secret to a new life for addicts is how you deal with it. If you let it progress, there is only one sad and ultimate outcome, just like any other disease. If you seek recovery, your story will have a completely different ending. Things that seemed distant, like happiness, success, and freedom get closer, until one day, you are able to grasp them. This article, based on my personal experiences in recovery, is designed to show you how you can keep the things that are precious to you within your grasp. Even though everybody’s recovery journey is different, I will provide you with 6 positive daily-life habits I learned going through the path of recovering.
Even though addiction is a disease that cannot be cured, you will learn to control it, you will become a better person, a stronger version of yourself and most importantly you will get your life back. While going through recovery, you will need to create new, healthy habits for yourself. On average, 60% of the things that people do today, they did yesterday. And, guess what? They’ll do it again tomorrow. As people, it’s what we do, we are creatures of habit. If you create good daily habits for yourself, you’ll repeat these routines effortlessly (successful business people live by this mantra, and so can you). So here are 6 positive daily life habits I learned, which will help you stay on the road of recovery and, with dedication, even enhance the person you truly are:
1. Say It Out Loud
My ongoing recovery journey has taught me many things over the years. Recognizing particular triggers to previous addictive behaviors is one, so to stop myself, I started saying these things out loud. The funny thing was, I realized that it was actually working in a positive way. Here’s an example. One time, very early in my recovery, I was given very bad news I was not prepared for. One of my favorite uncles had died from cancer. Immediately, I felt a sense of sadness come over me and I immediately started to worry about not being able to control my life and issues with family gatherings (obviously, this one would be a funeral). I knew I had to get a handle on it. So, I went back in the house and talked about it. I started telling myself everything that was on my mind out loud. It got me through those tough times without touching a bottle. Please, trust me, I’m not crazy.
Talking out loud whenever I’m alone is now a daily ritual for me and a good one at that. For me, it is like a prayer or a form of meditation. My daily monologue talks about everything that I’m grateful for, especially the positive things i’m doing because of my recovery. It’s really a “thank you” to my recovery. It continues to save my life.
2. Be Physical
Yes, be physical. During my years of chronic drinking, being physical usually meant losing a bar-fight. Nowadays, being physical means regular exercise – a run in the park with my dog, a weekly trip to the gym, even a pickup baseball game with my friends. But it’s every single day. Doing physical exercise daily is proven to increase the “happy chemicals” in our brains, as well as making us healthier, fitter and stronger. The impact of those years of heavy drinking has been lessened by exercise and the benefits it brings. My doctor happily agrees with this too. It is medically proven that people exercising regularly experience greater self-confidence and optimism and less anxiety and depression. Note: It is possible to over exercise and it’s always recommended to talk with a doctor or health professional about what level of physical activity is best for you given where you are at.
3. Eat, Drink & Be Merry
Recovering addicts need to re-educate their brain signals when it comes to hunger. During the first stages of recovery, it is imperative that you don’t let yourself be too hungry, because our brains can’t tell the difference between being hungry r and crave alcohol and/or drug. By eating a good healthy diet, you will soon create the distinction. Secondly, if you’re not eating the right food, where are you going to find the energy for those park-runs with your four-legged friend? Seriously, eating correctly is just part of the “healthy body / healthy mind” principle.
And drinking? We all need to drink to hydrate ourselves properly. What we choose to drink, well… Lessons learned and all that. Hydrate yourself properly to keep the principle above going.
4. Personally Connect
I hate being lonely, somewhat ironic for an ex-heavy drinker who deliberately distanced himself from others (family, friends, loved ones). Reaching out to others is a great habit to get into, even if it’s just a short simple conversation with the old lady in the supermarket queue. For me, an essential part of my recovery has always been being able to connect to others. As one of my musical heroes, Bruce Springsteen, says, “Individual freedom, when it’s not connected to some sort of community or friends or the world outside, ends up feeling pretty meaningless.”
So, be with your family, your friends, your community, your sponsor, you could even look up an old friend online. Just remember, connect with those around you.
5. Treat Yourself To Fun
Recovery, for me, has not been a life-draining challenge or, as perceived by some, a miserable existence. It’s as fun as I choose to make it and it doesn’t need a large quantity of alcohol. Remember, good habits, repeated daily, improve your recovery. Do stuff you enjoy doing. New (or old) hobbies and activities are simply waiting for you to try them. Successful recovery can be achieved however you choose, just keep yourself busy while having fun. Re-learn to be happy and don’t be afraid.
6. Pay It Forward
Have you ever seen that Kevin Spacey film, “Pay It Forward?” this concept can be a rewarding part of your recovery, guaranteed to increase your self-esteem, your self-confidence and help others who find themselves in that same personal vacuum that you yourself were in not so long ago. There’s no need to go into your local bar and proclaim the evils of alcohol, or stand on a drug-dealing street corner shouting about the perils of drug addiction at the top of your lungs. You can volunteer for a charity, be on the end of a telephone for a desperate person, or, you could live your life as an example for others. Demonstrate your positivity towards recovery in whatever way you see fit.
Here you have them, the 6 positive daily life habits to protect and enhance you and your recovery – say it out loud, be physical, eat, drink and be merry, personally connect, treat yourself to fun, and, lastly, pay it forward. Reading this, you may have other suggestions. Do you? Bring them on. My recovery has also taught me to listen properly and learn from everyone and everything so, please, let me know and add a comment below.