5 Things to be Grateful for – Starting with Your Sobriety
Thanksgiving is an ideal time to recognize and practice gratitude, and to be thankful for everything you have. If you’re recovering from addiction, you probably have a long list of things to be thankful for — including improved health, strengthened bonds with friends and family, and your sobriety from drugs and alcohol. Take time this Thanksgiving to appreciate just how far you’ve come after having achieved sobriety, and to truly recognize things in your life to be grateful for.
Being Grateful is the Key to Staying Sober
Being grateful is generally defined as being positive about the present moment without taking things for granted. Being grateful is also about being able to acknowledge the good things in your life that have happened, are about to happen, or that are happening right now. Gratitude and positive thinking are key to lasting sobriety, since feeling good about yourself and your life will keep you motivated about staying sober.
When you’re grateful about your sobriety, you’re often less likely to relapse. Those who aren’t grateful or who express negativity about their sobriety are more likely to fail, and return to drug and alcohol abuse. But having a grateful, positive attitude is key to a healthy recovery in that these virtues can help you overcome any and all challenges associated with addiction and sobriety.
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The Power of Gratitude
Practicing gratitude improves your physical and mental health — making you even stronger when it comes to battling addiction and maintaining sobriety. Gratitude has the power to improve your confidence, energy levels, and motivation, and helps you advance toward achieving your most important personal goals. Data from a recent study even found that people who practice gratitude tend to experience fewer physical and psychological illnesses, and benefit from stronger relationships, happiness, optimism, and more generous behavior.
Here are some ways the power of gratitude can enhance your life and recovery.
Gratitude Improves Your Health
Gratitude and positivity offer a number of health benefits. Counting your blessings will naturally help you increase your optimism, which goes hand in hand with higher confidence and energy levels.
Evidence also reveals that grateful people are more likely to sleep better throughout the night and exercise regularly. Another recent study involving patients with heart damage revealed that the act of practicing gratitude was linked to overall improved health and reduced rates for cardiac events.
Gratitude Makes You More Optimistic
Being optimistic can do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem.
Demonstrating optimism can make you appear more successful, according to a 2012 survey.
Optimism allows you to be more open-minded, and helps you view failure as a new start. When you’re recovering from addiction, optimism helps you learn from your mistakes and move forward with a positive attitude.
Gratitude Improves Your Relationships
Gratitude has been shown to improve relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. Feeling grateful helps you identify those who are most responsive to your needs, which is especially important for those recovering from addiction. Studies conducted on gratitude involving the giving of gifts and thank-you notes found that recipients shown gratitude by others were more likely to feel closer to those practicing gratitude.
Maintaining sobriety can often be difficult without having supportive individuals in your corner. But feeling and expressing gratitude can improve your relationships with others, and help you identify those truly dedicated to helping you stay sober.
5 Things to be Grateful for This Thanksgiving
Practicing gratitude is something you can benefit from every day, all year long. But if you haven’t been feeling too grateful lately, or need help learning how to be grateful, this Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get started.
Here are five things to feel grateful about over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
1. Your Sobriety
Overcoming addiction isn’t easy, which is why sobriety should top your list of things to be grateful for. Think about everything you’ve been through and accomplished after making the choice to fight addiction — including going through detox to overcome drug and alcohol dependency, and attending therapy and support groups to conquer the root causes of addiction. Think about the relationships you’ve mended, and about other areas in your life that may have improved on behalf of sobriety.
Your sobriety has helped you achieve better overall health and mental clarity, and is the reason you’re alive today to experience the Thanksgiving holiday. When giving thanks and counting your blessings, don’t forget to include your sobriety.
2. An Improved Quality of Life
Drug dependence and addiction offer serious long-term effects that can compromise your overall well-being and quality of life. For instance, addiction can cause problems with your health, finances, work performance, personal relationships, and much more. This Thanksgiving, consider how your recovery from addiction has helped you achieve an improved quality of life.
Instead of devoting your valuable time to obtaining, using, and recovering from drug or alcohol use, you can now devote more time to loved ones and your favorite hobbies and interests. Instead of waking up feeling the effects of hangovers and withdrawal symptoms, you can now wake up feeling refreshed, energetic, and ready to tackle the day. You can also benefit from knowing that your decision to stay sober is directly responsible for your improved well-being and healthier lifestyle.
3. Family & Friends Who Support Your Journey
Addiction can be tough to face on your own without family and friends in your life to cheer you on. Recovering from addiction allows you to repair and mend relationships that may been broken due to your addiction in the first place. This Thanksgiving, take time to be grateful for friends and family who have truly supported you in your journey toward sobriety, and enjoy moments with those with whom you recently reconciled.
If staying sober means you had to cut ties with certain negative influences in your life, be grateful that you were able to identify these individuals as obstacles in your recovery. Instead of getting caught up thinking about past holiday experiences with these individuals, focus on the relationships you have now, and on future relationships to come.
A major benefit to being grateful is attracting people who feel rejuvenated and happy while in your presence. Grateful people are often pleasant to spend time with, and tend to have lots of friends. So if you’re in need of a new support team or friends this year, be confident about the fact you’re going to meet new people who share your same mindset and appreciate your being grateful.
4. Enjoying the Holiday Without Regrets
If you’re recovering from addiction, you may have had one or more previous Thanksgivings where drugs and alcohol interfered with your ability to truly enjoy the holiday. Family conflicts, finances, and holiday shopping are just some examples of stressors that commonly lead to substance abuse over Thanksgiving and the holiday season in general. Many individuals recovering from drug use disorders say that holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to bring about feelings of guilt surrounding drinking and drug use in years past.
This year, be grateful that you can now fully enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday without regrets. Now that you’re sober, you won’t have to worry about drug and alcohol abuse affecting your behavior in ways that hurt yourself and others. Being grateful and living in the present moment could allow this Thanksgiving to be your best yet, and improve your chances of having an even better Thanksgiving next year!
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5. Hope for the Future
Though overcoming addiction can be a trying, difficult journey with many road bumps, it’s important for you to keep in mind that your life will only continue to get better. With some drug use disorders, withdrawal symptoms can remain for up to several years after becoming sober, and taper off gradually as time continues to pass. Even if you’ve already been through drug detox, your physical and psychological health will continue to improve the longer you stay sober.
This Thanksgiving, be grateful about having an exciting future ahead of you, even if you’re not quite sure how it’ll go or what to expect. Continuing to stay positive, optimistic, and proud of your recovery from addiction can lead to lasting sobriety, and hope for your future. Learn how to make gratitude a habit, and benefit from positive life changes as you continue practicing gratitude into the New Year.
How to Make Gratitude a Habit
It may be easy for those who are already practicing gratitude to maintain a positive outlook about recovery and sobriety. But what if the concept of gratitude is new to you? It’s okay to be unfamiliar with how to be grateful — especially if your life had been taken over by addiction, trauma, or mental illness for a period of time. But now that you’re sober, you can learn how to make gratitude one of your permanent lifestyle habits, and begin living more happily and in the moment.
Follow these tips to start making gratitude one of your healthiest habits yet.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Buy a blank notebook or journal to designate as your gratitude journal. Every day, write down two things you’re feeling grateful about on that particular day, regardless of how big or small they may seem. This helps you put things in perspective, and can even help you realize there’s much more for you to be grateful for than you originally thought.
Write down things to be grateful for as they occur, or wait until the end of the day when you can reflect on everything that happened. If you’re still struggling with being able to identify things to feel grateful about, ask yourself what you felt were your favorite parts of the day. For instance, if your favorite part of the day involved eating ice cream with your nieces and nephews, be grateful for being in good enough health to indulge in ice cream with loved ones who adore you, admire you, and enjoy spending time with you.
A gratitude journal can also be helpful to read and review at times of stress, or when you feel as if a relapse is around the corner. A gratitude journal serves as a beautiful reminder of everything you have in your life to be thankful for.
Practicing mindfulness, or meditation, is being aware of what you’re doing in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness is highly effective at reducing stress as it helps prevent your mind from wandering and thinking negative thoughts. If you’re recovering from addiction, practicing mindfulness can help you avoid feelings of guilt, sadness, and despair brought on by memories of past experiences involving drug and alcohol abuse.
To meditate or practice mindfulness, focus fully on the task at hand without allowing your mind to stray to other topics. For example, if you’re going for a run, focus on your running form and the steps you’re taking instead of thinking about things you’ll have to do when you get back home. When you’re spending time with friends and family this Thanksgiving, focus on all the fun you’ve having with them right at that very moment, instead of thinking about how sad you’ll feel when they leave.
If you’re still going through drug or alcohol detox, practicing mindfulness can even help reduce psychological withdrawal symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and aggression.
Look for the Positives in Every Situation
Nobody’s life is perfect, regardless of whether drug dependence and addiction are a factor. Learning how to see the positives in every situation can get you into the habit of experiencing and practicing gratitude for the rest of your life. Next time you’re faced with a situation that is difficult to handle or out of your control, find a way to look at the bright side.
For instance, if you’re stuck at the DMV for a few hours, be grateful about the fact you can catch up on reading your favorite book or chat with friends and family while you’re waiting. If your favorite football team loses the game on Thanksgiving, be grateful that you got to spend the day watching the game surrounded by your loved ones and eating delicious food. Looking for the positives in every situation can help you stay sober for years to come.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol dependence, understand that detox treatments can safely and comfortably help you or your loved one become sober. Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) to speak with a caring addiction counselor ready to help you find the nearest drug detox center.