How hard is it to stay focused in recovery? Let us count the ways. Ask anyone who’s been there, and you’ll find out that getting sober is just the first step to recovery. So many people hope that giving up their drug of choice will be enough recovery, and they are surprised when sobriety doesn’t last or doesn’t work.
Addiction is defined as a chronic progressive relapsing brain disease with both physical and psychological components.
The truth is recovery is both physical and psychological. That means you have to engage your body and your brain to stay focused long enough to develop new habits, new lifestyle, new relationships and that all important new attitude for recovery to work.
It’s an art form to stay focused in recovery
Sometimes sobriety feels simple and life is easy, but other times, it’s a daily epic battle to fight off triggers and cravings. Here are 7 tips to inspire you to stay focused on the masterpiece your recovery when you just don’t feel like it.
1. Take it one day at a time
Whether you’ve been in recovery for days or decades, it’s best to take everything one step at a time. Be grateful for every morning you wake up clear-headed and without a hangover and every evening you fall asleep without passing out or the room spinning. When you’re creating your goals, think about them in steps. Don’t get freaked out by the big picture because it doesn’t help to feel overwhelmed.
2. Celebrate the milestones
Made it through the weekend without picking up or picking a fight? Didn’t lash out at relatives at a holiday party? Got a job? Reaching the biggest and smallest goals are all cause for celebration. Remember you’re on a journey of change. So every time you cross a milestone, acknowledge it and celebrate. It’s another victory to journal about, or cross off that list.
3. Track your results
Whether you have a journal, a calendar, a list, an app on your phone—whatever—track your successes. Looking back will help you stay focused when things get tough. Really take in how much time and effort has gone into your recovery and how much that means to you. When you’re having an off day check your progress and remember where you started and how far you’ve come.
4. Have a plan
Plans are what make things happen. So, what steps will you take to meet your goals? Who’s on the list of people that will help you make it there? What resources will you need? Make plans for how to make new recovery friends, get healthy, learn a new skill, relapse prevention plan, and a plan for anything else you can think of. Need to find a job? Make a plan for how to do that starting with what needs to be done like a resume to what contacts or websites can help you find what you’re looking for.
5. Keep reaching out to your support systems
You’ve made sober friends at meetings, or through other people. It’s important to have phone relationships with these people AND see them in person! You have your sober community to help you through tough times, use them. You may have a therapist. All these resources should be used regularly, but don’t forget to use them when the going gets tough. If you’re in contact, they’ll reach out, too, if they feel worried or sense that something is wrong.
6. Go to meetings/ Don’t skip meeting
Just like in number 5, it’s so important to have those places to go to find help. Meetings make a great distraction to help you get out of your own head, help other people and the opportunity to share what’s on your mind. Find a way to talk things out with someone else who you know will listen. Talking things out will help you make discoveries that you may not have when just thinking things through. Sometimes, if you’re stuck in your thoughts, they can turn into a merry-go-round of doom.
7. Believe in yourself
You can get yourself out and back on the right path. Relapse is common, so don’t beat yourself up over it if it happens and just let yourself stay in those bad, dangerous habits. Try your best to keep from relapsing because returning to those old ways isn’t worth it. So, believe in yourself and what you can do. Remember that you are not alone.
No matter what you’re dealing with that may be causing you to feel like giving up, remember what it was like coming in. Take this disease of addiction seriously and remember that it wants you drinking, using or dead. As much as it is a disease, there’s also the choice of whether or not to treat the disease every day. Remember the positives, use your networks and give yourself the best chance possible to succeed.