While most people resolve to lose weight or save money, all you can think about is staying sober in the new year. It’s a tall order, which is why it can help to break it down into simpler pieces. Forget painting with a broad stroke. For the next 365 days, try implementing one (or a couple) of these sober New Year’s resolutions—one day at a time. They’re attainable goals that won’t leave you feeling like a failure, like traditional New Year’s resolutions often do. With each small step, you’ll get closer to the big picture of your life free from the burden of substance abuse.
1. Spin the Negative
Do you find yourself judging others, or even yourself? “Why can’t you stop drinking?” “Everyone else ‘gets’ recovery. What’s wrong with you?” These types of negative thoughts feed negative habits. Practice spinning the negative into something positive, and you’ll notice you have a much better outlook on life—and your recovery. Practice swapping thoughts like, “My nose is shaped funny” for “My eyes are a pretty shade of blue today.” Then move on to swapping thoughts like, “Everyone else ‘gets’ recovery; what’s wrong with you?” for “You’re learning something new every day, and each lesson makes you stronger.” Notice how the change makes you feel, and take a second to appreciate the compliment.
2. Count Your Blessings Every Day
Expressing gratitude in recovery has proven benefits. Spend a few minutes each day taking note of what you’re thankful for. Literally, write them down! Keeping a gratitude journal means you can look back at them when you need a pick-me-up.
3. Perform a Random Act of Kindness
Substance abuse can consume your thoughts, even in recovery. Take the focus off yourself by doing a good deed for someone else. It can be as simple as buying coffee for the stranger in line behind you or wishing that telemarketer a happy new year.
4. Adopt a Holistic Hobby
A holistic activity is one that makes a mind-body-spirit connection, and it can act as supplemental therapy, helping you cope with feelings that may be too difficult to express verbally. These activities are also great stress-relievers, which can help improve your mental health and well-being. Need some ideas?
- Practice yoga
- Try meditation
- Write poetry
5. Pick Up a Sport
Much like practicing yoga or drawing, playing sports can be an outlet for letting off steam. Plus, sports often come with a supportive group atmosphere that complements many drug rehab programs. Knowing there are literally people on your team can give you the strength to stay sober. Check out your local community center for leagues, or start your own!
6. Get Seven Hours of Sleep Every Night
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that one in three adults don’t get adequate sleep. In fact, sleeping less than seven hours per night can lead to chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure and mental distress. Allow your body ample time to rest, so you feel mentally and physically fit to fight for your recovery.
7. Commit to Weekly Visits with Loved Ones
You’re a product of your environment. Be selective about the people you surround yourself with, and then make time to see them more often. This support group should consist of people who make a difference in the community, have ambition, and are honest and reliable. People in recovery sometimes isolate themselves because it can be overwhelming to face daily life again. Committing to visiting with a family member or good friend each week will remind you that a good life exists outside your sober living cocoon.
8. Read a Book or Follow a Podcast
The act of reading provokes a pure sense of calm. If you can find a book or podcast series that’s especially inspirational, you’ll get a lot more out of it than just a few relaxing minutes. Perhaps it would help you to hear about someone else’s struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. You might get insight into different coping strategies or simply gain a new perspective on life.
9. Clean Out Your Closet
There is such thing as having too much stuff. For some people in recovery, a closet-full of clothes or a space cluttered with knick-knacks is overwhelming and can trigger addictive behavior. Dedicate a weekend to getting rid of things you no longer need. You can make this cleansing a routine by donating one item for every new item you bring into your home.
10. Attend a Sober Event
Once you’ve reached a certain point in recovery, you may be ready to socialize among large groups of people. This can be a big step, but one that helps you practice important interpersonal skills. To make it easier on yourself, choose a drug- and alcohol-free event, and bring a friend for moral support.
Make Your Resolutions Stick
When plotting your New Year’s resolutions in recovery, put a magnifying glass to your goals and look at the fine details. Examine your daily routine, how you take care of your health, the hobbies you enjoy, and the things that motivate you. From there, you can draw up a few very specific action items that will complement your addiction treatment program and help you maintain sobriety for years to come. Plus, setting goals and meeting them gives you a great sense of accomplishment! Remember that help is always an option. The medical professionals at Washburn House are always available to support your addiction recovery and remind you to focus on progress, not perfection.