If you’re like many people who have recently decided to make a major change in your life by giving up drugs and/or alcohol, you’re probably feeling a mixture of excitement for the future as well as apprehension that things may not go as planned. You probably already know that staying sober is hard work, and you may also be aware than many people experience setbacks on their journey toward living a completely clean and sober lifestyle. Fortunately, there are strategies available designed to help keep those in your position stay on track. Following are five self-help tips that you may find useful as you move forward with your new life.
A structured schedule (including 12 step meetings) adds purpose and cohesion to your day as well as helps you manage goals. Lifestyles that are characterized by chaos and disorganization may stand in the way of recovery. Most people find that structuring their schedules around daily as well as weekly activities is the best course of action.
Having long term goals helps you keep your eye on the prize. Although many people make simply staying sober a long term goal, it’s important that you see yourself as something more than just your addiction. Having other goals involving education or career can help you stay on track with sobriety. Making progressive toward meeting goals also reinforces positive self-esteem.
Many people who have struggled with addiction aren’t in the best physical health and may even be out of shape. A daily exercise routine can help you regain good physical health, add structure to your day, and reduce stress and boredom. If you choose to exercise outside, you’ll get the added benefit of receiving a natural source of vitamin D, which may improve overall mood levels.
If you don’t already have a job, get one. Even if you don’t need to work for financial reasons, holding down a steady job is one of the best ways to add structure to your life and to feel productive. Having a job is also a great way to guard against the stress that comes with having financial difficulties in your life.
Many of those in recovery replace previous substance abuse with new activities — and this is good. However, many go overboard with new diets, exercise, or other activities to the exclusion of everything else. Living a more balanced life reduces the chances of relapsing.
Remember to be gentle with yourself and to adhere to the old adage of taking things one day at a time.