This article is by Susan Linney and published by American Addiction Centers
It can be tempting to think that once you receive treatment for an alcohol or substance use disorder, you’re cured. However, as most people in recovery will tell you, maintaining long-term sobriety takes consistent dedication and effort. One of the things that can help make the process easier (and ultimately more rewarding) is to incorporate a gratitude practice into your daily routine. In fact, studies show that people who practice gratitude consistently reap a host a physical, psychological, and social benefits, including lower blood pressure, higher levels of happiness, and reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation.
If you’re looking for some suggestions, here are a few simple ways in which you can strengthen your recovery through gratitude.
1: Keep a Gratitude Journal
Commit to writing a list of five to 10 things you are grateful for each morning. You can use a physical notebook or write daily lists in your phone or with an app—whatever is easiest for you. Purposely focusing on the good things in your life at the start of the day can help boost feelings of well-being by putting the negative aspects into perspective. When you’re struggling, it can be helpful to look back at your entries and remind yourself of all the things that bring you happiness and joy.
Meditation is an activity that’s highly encouraged by recovery experts. But it can sometimes seem like a difficult and daunting task, especially for beginners. What’s important to remember is that there’s no right or wrong way to meditate. At its most basic level, meditation is simply about taking time out of the day to breathe deeply and be mindful. Practicing gratitude meditation makes this even easier, as it specifically instructs you to think about the things you are thankful for. If you’d like some help getting started, we recommend this Gratitude Meditation.
3: Help Others
Volunteering at a soup kitchen or getting groceries for an elderly friend are activities that can be just as beneficial to you as the people they are helping. Being of service to others will get you out of your own head and distract you from thoughts of drinking or using. It’s also a great way to practice gratitude—spending time with people less fortunate than yourself will make you feel extra thankful for all that you have.
3 Simple Gratitude Practices for Life
It can be easy to get lost in the little details, to focus on small events and blow them out of proportion. In the stress of the moment, we can forget what really matters in recovery and life. That’s why showing gratitude can be important. It can help you step back and examine a situation with newfound humility. The next time you’re at a point of stress, consider trying these 3 simple gratitude practices and see if they help.