Many people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction often start a new year raring to go, setting themselves an exhaustive list of new year’s resolutions – but they often fail at the first hurdle. Why? Often the list of resolutions is too long and puts too much pressure on someone to radically overhaul their life.
Resolutions need to be achievable, so focus on making small, gradual changes to your lifestyle and thinking. Reward yourself if you achieve them, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t adopt a new habit right away.
We’ve listed resolutions that are attainable rather than massively challenging. Our tip? Take it slowly. Before you know it, you’ll have overhauled your life and feel amazing.
Build On Relationships with Family and Friends
Your relationships with loved ones probably took a nosedive when you were struggling with alcohol or drug addiction. You may have already started family therapy and be making positive progress. Keep this up, as it’s massively beneficial to your recovery and helps heal rifts and misunderstandings.
Aside from family therapy, plan ahead. Having events to look forward to, even something as simple as a countryside walk helps strengthen relationships and create new, positive experiences.
Seek support from family and friends if you need it. True friends and loving family members want to help your recovery so don’t hold back if you’re having a tough time.
Try Something New
As a former addict, you’ll know the importance of filling your time with meaningful activities that establish positive feelings and routines. Hobbies create a new focus, stop boredom, and distract you from thinking about your previous addiction.
An ideal hobby is something that gets you into a state of ‘flow.’ This means that you’re engaged, fully focused and enjoying your chosen activity. Ideal hobbies to create a state of flow include art and craft, yoga, carpentry, jewellery making, and reading, but any activity where you truly immerse yourself is ideal.
Finding something you’re passionate about is key. If you enjoyed an activity as a child, it’s likely you’ll enjoy it now so consider taking it up again. Try something you’ve always wanted to do whether that’s model train building, planting vegetables or baking cakes. No one is watching!
Small changes to your diet can positively affect your health. If your body feels good, your mind will as well. You don’t have to make massive changes – start small and build your way up. Examples include making your own healthy takeaway rather than buying your usual version.
Up the fruit and vegetables in your diet, aiming to eat five portions a day. You can even make them into smoothies for an on-the-go health kick. Boil, steam or grill rather than fry or deep fry. This is healthier and reduces the amount of cooking fats in your diet. Drink more water, aiming for six to eight glasses a day or switch fizzy drinks for water – you’ll feel the difference.
Moving your body makes you feel great, and releases feel-good hormones called Endorphins. This release reduces cravings for previous addictions, which is only a good thing. Feeling healthy in your body massively improves mental health, and reduces anxiety, depression and anger.
Try getting a little exercise every day, and start small. Walk to work or the shops if you can, or fit in a lunchtime walk when you’re working from home. Set yourself a challenge to increase the amount of exercise you do every day and you’ll feel motivated and proud when you reach your goals.
Exercise doesn’t have to cost much, and you don’t need any special equipment if you’re watching your finances. Exercise such as walking, running, or doing YouTube fitness videos (yoga, pilates, Zumba, HIT classes for example) is free and fits around your life.
If you have the budget you could sign up for a gym, go swimming every week or try instructor lead classes at your local leisure or community centre.
Get More Sleep
Addiction disrupts sleep patterns and it doesn’t matter the type. It could be drugs, alcohol or gambling but they impact your sleep levels. Insomnia, sleeping during the day, staying up all night and broken sleep is all part and parcel of addiction.
Start the new year with a resolution to establish a healthy sleep routine, aiming to get eight hours of sleep every night. Try to go to bed and rise at the same time every day as this encourages your body to get into a routine.
Try not to take your phone to bed, as the light stimulates the brain. Having a bath before bed, reading a book or listening to relaxing music all encourage a good night’s sleep. And avoid caffeine, making lunchtime your cut-off point for the last cup.
Have A Positive Mindset
Long-term sobriety needs positive thinking. It’s likely that your relapse prevention and recovery plan (if you’re working with an addiction recovery team) covers motivation, positive thinking and steps to a better, sober future.
It’s important you have a mindset that isn’t negative – one that believes you can live an addiction-free life if you make the right choices. Consider your long-term goals and how to achieve them. You may want to rebuild family relationships, improve your career prospects or become financially stable. Surround yourself with positive people and environments to make you feel good, keep up the motivation, and you’re well on your way to achieving your goals.
Attend Regular Support Meetings
Set yourself a resolution to attend addiction support meetings every week, more if you need to. Recovering from addiction doesn’t happen overnight. You may have left a rehab centre sober and determined to stay addiction free, but you need regular support in the long term.
Lots of people in recovery attend support meetings once they have completed drug or alcohol rehab, so you won’t be alone. Meetings are a great place to up your motivation levels, learn ways of coping, share your worries and even make new friends. Ring your local NHS authority and ask about support groups in your area, or speak to your GP.