New Year’s resolutions are typically thought of in terms of self-discipline. We promise ourselves we’ll work out more, be more productive, lose weight or hit our income goals. But the reality is that goals are much easier to accomplish – and more importantly, sustain – when you come at them from a place of self-love. And living sober in recovery with joy is a process that requires an extra gentle attitude toward yourself.
Here are our ideas for intention-setting for addiction recovery as we look forward to a joyously sober year:
Setting Up a Simple Morning Self-Care Ritual
Taking a few moments to start your sober morning off on the right foot does wonders for the rest of your day. This organizes your energies and sends a cue to yourself that you intend to go about your day in a mindful, healthy and self-loving way. It can be as simple as selecting a few of the following, and making it a habit to do them every morning:
Not checking your phone first thing when you wake up: Make it a priority to carry out your morning routine before all your social media messages and to-dos start competing for your attention. You can even set your phone so it’s automatically on ‘do not disturb’ mode until the time your morning routine is normally over.
Making your bed: Making your bed may seem like a small task, but it’s a significant expression. As Commander of US Special Operations Naval Admiral William McRaven says, “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another… (it) will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.” In fact, studies show people who make their beds are happier than those who don’t.
Gratitude journaling: A good place to start is an expression of gratitude for your sober life. Journalling is a technique that is especially helpful if you normally wake up with anxiety, as it helps you shift from a mindset of victimhood to one of abundance, which is why gratitude is such a powerful tool for recovery. Gratitude journaling helps us frame our thoughts more positively, and that attitude stays with us, affecting all of our actions throughout the day.
If constantly feeling like you haven’t done enough is a source of anxiety, try accomplishment journaling: writing down everything you accomplished the day before. You’ll be amazed at how just how much you do that you’re not giving yourself credit for, and get an extra boost of confidence from your track record of success.
Start a Meditation Practice
By now we’re all aware of the many, profound benefits of this millennia-old practice. But many of us are hesitant to start a practice we think will be boring or difficult – or, we just plain don’t know how to start meditating. If you’re just starting out, try approaching it this way:
Meditate at the same time every day. The ideal time to meditate is in early morning. At this time of day, the prevailing energy is peaceful and your body is not yet awake, giving you a head start on tapping into your inner stillness. But realistically, the best time to meditate is any time you can regularly commit to.
Schedule your sittings. Predetermine the amount of time you want to meditate. It’s a good idea to start with shorter lengths, like five minutes, and work up to longer sessions as you become more proficient.
Prompt yourself. You may want to use the same cues every time to signal to your brain that it’s time to meditate. These can include sounds like meditative music or mantras, which help our brains attune to a calmer frequency, or the grounding aromas of incense, sage or essential oils.
Become aware of yourself. Begin by settling down, sensing your inner state and calling your intentions to mind. Let your heart set the tone.
Don’t resist your thoughts. Minds think – a lot. It’s what they do best! If your mind starts racing, don’t beat yourself up for it. Instead, try observing your thoughts as they pass rather than becoming attached to their narrative.
Use your breath as your sober anchor. Every time your mind begins to wander, bring your awareness back to observing your breath, observing its quality as it enters and leaves your body.
Be kind to your sober self. As with any practice, the more times you repeat this, the more sense it will make. Eventually, you’ll find it easier to shift into a calm, aware state. This creates distance between your triggers and your reactions to them – which is why meditation is so effective in recovery.
As your practice progresses, you can be more creative with where and how you set aside small moments of mindfulness. These can be as simple as a sitting meditation on your morning commute, or a walking meditation on your lunch break. The sky’s the limit – every day presents myriad moments to find pause.
Create More Space for Joy in Your Life
We often get stuck in future-thinking, believing that something needs to happen before we can be happy. Or, we get stuck in the past, believing something should not have happened to us. But the reality is that the time to be happy is now – in fact, it’s the only time we will ever have access to happiness.
While our intensely ambition-oriented society frames happiness as a luxury we seldom have time for, happiness is in fact a central, vital part of life. And pursuing our happiness leads us to greater ‘productivity’ than ambition ever can, because following our joy is what leads us to our life’s true path.
Even in challenging phases of your life, you can find space within your circumstances to experience joy. Don’t wait for someone to allow you or for some magical moment in the future – start taking responsibility for your happiness now.
Stay Sober and be Well in 2020 and Beyond
At Serenity Vista, we know you deserve to be happy, and we believe you can have exactly the life you want. That’s why we offer all the tools and guidance necessary to support your sobriety in addiction treatment and beyond. Our dynamic, full-life program takes place in our peaceful natural setting in Boquete, Panama, and includes a wide range of holistic therapies to treat all of you.
If you’re ready to embark on the life-changing journey of recovery to a fulfilling and joyous sober life, contact us today to learn how we can help.