January 7, 2016
As a new year approaches, many take a personal inventory in recovery and identify areas in their lives that could be improved upon, with the goal of making their recovery stronger or more interesting.
If you find yourself in a rut and are unsure how best you too can make a New Year’s resolution that bolsters your recovery, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Resolve to try a new 12-Step meeting. Even if you regularly attend the same 12-Step meetings, replace one with a new one or resolve to add one more 12-Step meeting to your weekly or monthly schedule. You may opt to make the new one into a regular stop or try a different new one every month. The idea is to branch out, step outside your comfort zone, and widen your support system to include new people and ideas.
- Resolve to make one positive lifestyle change. Whether you opt to eat a healthy breakfast, start going to bed and getting up at the same times every day, or going for a 20-minute walk at sunset, make a change that is simple and that enhances your day so you will be more likely to maintain the resolution over the course of the year.
- Resolve to bring a friend with you to a sober event. Trying out new sober events is a great way to boost your recovery, but it may be daunting to go it alone. Instead, bring a friend to make it easier.
- Resolve to share. If you regularly attend Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or another 12-Step meeting, or if you go to group therapy, then take the time to share your thoughts on the topic or a relevant experience with others in the group. The more you get involved and become active in therapy and treatment this year, the more likely it is that you will continue making progress in recovery.
- Resolve to volunteer. Helping a cause that is close to your heart and giving back to others can help you to feel better about yourself, give meaning to your life, and increase your positive interactions with others – all of which can increase your ability to stay sober in 2016.
- Resolve to work the steps. If you have already worked the 12 Steps as a part of your recovery, resolve to go back and repeat the process. You may choose to focus on addressing certain steps that have been difficult for you, or you may choose to attend a meeting that focuses on step study. The 12-Step structure has proven effective for millions over the last century, and it can be a great DIY tool for gaining some momentum in recovery on your own or with the help of a sponsor.
- Resolve to incorporate a holistic activity into your weekly schedule. There are a number of different holistic activities or alternative therapies that can help you come at your recovery from a different angle and provide you with different tools to improve your ability to avoid relapse. For example, you may opt to begin practicing yoga once or twice a week for a few months and see if it improves your mood and overall wellbeing. Similarly, you may opt to explore an artistic therapy (e.g., art therapy, dance therapy, writing therapy) to investigate a past trauma or other tough area nonverbally. If you are in need of practice in communicating positively with others or in meeting people who are sober and working on their issues, maybe a sports or outdoor adventure therapy that provides an activity that pushes you outside your comfort zone in more ways than one may be a good choice. Whatever you try, give it a solid effort and make a commitment to continue for at least six months to determine whether or not it’s a good fit for you.
- Resolve to create a specific recovery goal in therapy. If you work with a therapist on a regular basis, create a recovery goal that you will work on with your therapist’s guidance. It can be short-term or long-term, but it should be a goal that will help you to grow in your recovery, and that you and your therapist can create a clear map of activity that will help you to reach it. If you are not currently seeing a therapist regularly, connect with one who has experience in substance abuse treatment and recovery.
- Resolve to meditate. Meditation is an excellent tool in recovery. It can provide you with a place to withdraw and clear your head, allowing each breath and every thought to pass without judgment. Regular practice every day can help you to lower your stress level and actively practice the “let it go” philosophy that can be so helpful in living life without getting bogged down by stressors that may otherwise trigger a relapse.
- Resolve to spend more time with the positive people in your life. The characteristics and perspectives of the people you spend the most time with are likely to rub off on you. If you find that you are often weighed down by negativity, it may be time to switch up your entourage and spend more time with people who have a more positive view of life. This can mean people who are sober themselves or simply people who are supportive of your recovery, but it means people who are doing good things in life and focused on making a difference in the world around them.
What are your recovery New Year’s resolutions for 2016?