Sobriety isn’t just about the abstinence from mood-altering substances. That’s too simplistic. Sobriety embodies the evolving mind-body approach that people take to heal their well-being.
In my work assisting clients throughout their sobriety stages, I have found that a few habits stand out as being pivotal to one’s success.
When you decide to embrace the sober life, you inherently change the way you interact with the world around you. Typically, that means you must establish and set healthy boundaries with others.
Even if they feel uncomfortable, boundaries represent a form of self-respect. They establish what you will and will not tolerate, and they allow you to form meaningful relationships with people who can treat you in the ways you deserve.
The inability or unwillingness to set boundaries can lead to resentment, unhealthy and toxic relationships, and codependent patterns. These risky behaviors can orient one right back into the chaotic cycle of addiction.
Yes, it’s cliched, but self-care is one of the most important gifts anyone can give him or herself. Fortunately, self-care doesn’t need to be complicated, expensive, or time-consuming.
It can be the cup of tea on a cold day or buying a new book. It can be spending time laughing with friends or watching funny videos on Youtube.
Self-care doesn’t need to be ritualized or even standardized; it just needs to be what works for you! Carve out some time each day (at least a few minutes) and do your best to devote a few unstructured hours for yourself every few weeks. We all need to recharge our emotional batteries, and self-care is one of the ways you can accomplish that.
Even in sobriety, it’s easy to feel stagnant. In fact, I’ve worked with many clients who seem to be stuck with themselves and with their lives, just moving along, day by day. They’re directionless at best, but in a looming downward spiral at worst.
We humans do well with working towards goals, both small and large. Goals give us purpose. They shape our identities. Goals make us excited to wake up in the morning.
This is your permission to draft out that bucket list. This is also your permission to start making daily to-do checklists or drafting out weekly goals. Big and small- write them down!
The more you can motivate yourself to keep moving forward and optimizing your life, the less enticing those triggering relapse thoughts will seem.
Prioritizing Meditation and Reflection
Life moves quickly. Sobriety, while it can offer a newfound peace and clarity after a long maze of chaos and darkness, has its obvious challenges. In sobriety, you must confront feelings and stress. You have to manage, rather than suppress, problems.
With that said, learning and implementing mindfulness embodies they key difference in how you cope with daily stressors. Simply being present with yourself allows you to withstand uncomfortable emotions or situations. It also allows you to open the space for increased forgiveness and acceptance- two principles that often define robust sobriety.
Establishing a Daily Routine
Addiction is chaotic and unpredictable. It’s messy and uncontrollable. It’s not sustainable, and that’s why you must act differently in your sobriety.
When people think about the ‘daily routine,’ they may feel disappointed or dejected by the thought of a boring rut. But, a rut isn’t a routine. Routine is simply a commitment to self and others. For some, it may mean waking up, brushing teeth, making the bed and doing what needs to be done for recovery that day. For others, it’s showing up at a job and then providing service work afterward.
When you can look at a routine as grounding, rather than restricting, you can look forward to a foundation that feels both secure and comforting.