Habits That Can Keep You Sober
A habit is a recurring pattern of behavior that is hard to give up. In many ways, addiction itself is a habit. As you develop an addiction to alcohol or drugs, you may start gradually by routinely following dinner with a drink, stopping at a bar on the way home from work or always going to parties on Saturday night. Before you know it, you are revolving your life around your next high. Reaching for a drink or drug to deal with the ups and downs of life has become second nature. It’s something you do without even thinking about it.
There are recovery habits that you can develop as well. These are patterns of behavior that can become unconscious, and as long as they become a habitual part of your daily routine, they will help keep you sober.
Surrounding Yourself With People in Recovery
One of the most important things you can do is surround yourself with other people who share the goal of wanting to avoid the future use or abuse of alcohol or drugs. By attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, you will meet a wide variety of people who share the journey of recovery.
Being surrounded by other recovering people offers multiple benefits. You get the benefit of hearing the experience, strength and hope of others who have had a problem with addiction, and you hear many different perspectives on how to live a sober life. Most importantly, being surrounded by others in recovery reminds you that you are not alone in your struggles.
Asking For Help
While hearing the experiences and stories of others in recovery is very helpful, truly recovering requires more than just listening to others. It’s imperative that you get into the habit of letting at least a few people know when you are in trouble. You need to learn to ask for help.
Start small by asking one person at each meeting for their phone number. Make at least one phone call a day. Ask someone to be your sponsor. Doing these things will seem to require a huge amount of effort at first, but it’s important to learn to reach out. By taking small steps to reach out to other people, you learn to get into the habit of asking for help. The ability to ask for help can make a huge difference when the day comes that your sobriety is in trouble.
Taking Care of Yourself
Addiction is a physical, mental and spiritual illness, and you need to take care of yourself on all these levels. Stormy emotions can often be brought under control by channeling them into regular physical exercise. Whether you walk, run, bike, swim or participate in sports, as long as you are getting into the habit of being physically active, you are developing the habit of taking care of your physical health, which has benefits for your mental health as well.
Taking a small part of your day for quiet time is another positive habit to develop. You may want to learn the practice of meditation to help quiet your mind or to get in touch with a power greater than yourself. Or consider taking the time to write in a journal each day to sort out your emotions and future goals. These are healthy habits that become coping skills when stressful times occur.
Keeping Recovery Up Front in Your Mind
Develop the habit of keeping recovery up front in your mind. Start your day by reading from recovery literature. This helps to remind you of the importance of the tools of recovery during the ups and downs of the coming day.
A simple way to continually remind yourself that you are on a journey of recovery is by repeating the slogans to yourself whenever you feel agitated or emotional. When you are overwhelmed, remind yourself to do “First Things First,” which means to focus on doing the next right thing. When people upset you, remind yourself to “Live and Let Live.” When emotions become turbulent, remind yourself to “Think.” Above all, no matter how stressful or overwhelming life becomes, you can handle it one day at a time.
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