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7 Healthy Habits That Will Bring You Joy in Recovery

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“In recovery, recovering addicts do more than lose their addictions. Usually, they regain enjoyment of life… Most individuals want to be happy. Addicts learn that they may be happy – even joyful – by appreciating their lives in recovery. Instead of killing themselves with their addictive substances, they live in freedom.”

~Dr. Francis A. Martin, PhD, Full Life: A Workbook for Spiritual Recovery from Addictions

Recovery from substance abuse is NOT easy.

When you have been struggling with drug addiction, prescription medication misuse, or alcoholism, regaining your sobriety and rediscovering your serenity require real commitments of time and effort.

But your recovery doesn’t have to be miserable.

On the contrary, when you replace the self-destructive bad habits of active addiction with healthier, pro-sobriety good habits, you will find yourself experiencing everyday happiness that you thought was gone forever.

Joyful Recovery Habit #1 – Focus on Your Strengths, Not Just Your Weaknesses

The 12 Steps of Recovery teach us to perform a “fearless and searching” Moral Inventory – our good and bad traits, our successes and our missteps. After all, you can’t get to where you are going if you don’t know where you are.

Unfortunately, far too many recovery substance abusers only focus on the negative – their failures and weaknesses.

When conducting YOUR moral inventory, don’t forget those things that are positive – your strengths that make allow you to be the best you YOU can be. Those are the tools that you will use to when crafting your own successful, long-term-lasting recovery.

What are some of the personal strengths that you might have?

  • The ability to love others
  • Loyalty
  • Intelligence
  • Creativity
  • A sense of humor
  • Compassion
  • Determination

Make your own list – there is SO MUCH MORE to you than just your disease.

When you focus on your strengths, rather than your weaknesses, you show yourself that you have what it takes to succeed.

Joyful Recovery Habit #2 – Positive People Keep You Sober

Early in recovery, we learn that to change our lives, we must change how we THINK, what we DO, and who we ASSOCIATE with – dysfunctional thoughts, actions, people, places, and things.

Obviously, this means our old drug/drinking “buddies”, but even some of the sober people in our lives can put our recovery at risk if they:

  • Deny us emotional support
  • Belittle our efforts
  • Put us down
  • Emotionally blackmail us
  • Refuse to respect our need to put our recovery FIRST

Instead, surround yourself with friends and family who truly support your recovery – encouraging you when you are feeling stressed or tempted, listening when you need a friendly ear, and celebrating your successes with you.

It may even be necessary for you to make NEW friends:

  • 12-Step meetings
  • Support/Self-Help groups
  • Group therapy

Other people who are in successful recovery can be a great source of strength and inspiration, because they understand what you are going through.

Joyful Recovery Habit #3 – Learn How to Manage Your Stress

Excess stress can be a trigger event leads to relapse, but there are practical strategies that can help you deal with everything that life can throw at you:

  • You have a limited supply of time and energy – BUDGET them both.
  • AVOID other people’s drama.
  • Meet YOUR needs FIRST.
  • Learn to say “NO” to excessive requests or invitations.
  • SLOW DOWN – recovery takes time.
  • Stress-reduction WORKS – meditation, exercise, yoga, journaling, etc.

Joyful Recovery Habit #4 – Practice Self-Awareness

“Mindfulness meditation” is just that – concentrating on where you are in the moment. By focusing on your whole self – your emotions, thoughts, reactions, and physical state – you become aware of any issues BEFORE they become problems that could potentially jeopardize your sobriety.

Even more importantly, you will learn to track how far you have come in recovery. Staying positive is easier when you know that you are continuing to progress.

Joyful Recovery Habit #5 – Redefine Fun

Addiction causes changes within your brain that robs you of the ability to feel joy without the presence of alcohol or drugs. One of the biggest challenges of recovery is finding new ways to have fun. You may even have to force yourself to do things while your brain chemistry returns to normal.

But here’s the good news – if you “fake it ‘til you make it”, you will find that engaging in healthy, positive activities can promote the natural production of your body’s “feel-good” chemicals. You will start enjoying yourself IN SPITE of yourself.

  • Go ANYWHERE that might be interesting – a museum, the zoo, an art exhibit, or a play.
  • Even better, attend an event that is NEW TO YOU – a dog show, the rodeo, a poetry slam, etc. the goal is to stretch your boundaries.
  • Re-visit an old hobby you used to enjoy, or take up a new one.
  • Take a class – just because you want to.
  • Cook and eat a dish that you have never tried before.
  • Volunteer or get involved with your church. Nothing is as so rewarding as serving others.

Joyful Recovery Habit #6 – Make the Good Last

Even the little things can make your day – a smile, nice weather, sharing at a AA/NA meeting. When something good happens to you, SAVOR it. Purposefully noticing moments of happiness will sustain you during the difficult times.

Joyful Recovery Habit #7 – Count Your Blessings and Be Grateful

Many people never ask for help until they have hit their own personal “rock bottom” – when they are so sick of losing everything in their life to the disease of addiction that they are willing to do anything to get better.

Recovery allows you to regain what you may have lost or perhaps never even had. You can feel gratitude for everything that you are still blessed with.

The most important things you still have are your life and a chance for a better, sober future. Never forget, too many souls lost to active addiction NEVER get another chance.

Chapman House drug and alcohol rehab in Orange County can help you make the most of that chance. With a full range of detox and treatment options to meet your unique needs as an individual, Chapman House can give you the tools and support you need to successfully change your life for the better.

By Albert Fontenot