Getting sober is one thing, but staying sober is a completely different story. A sober life involves making major changes to the way you spend your time, and those you surround yourself with. It involves replacing old habits with new ones. Sobriety means living again – but how exactly do we maintain that?
People in recovery can frequently struggle with boredom, loneliness, anger, fear, and depression – which can often lead to relapse. Following treatment, we must change these behaviors to keep up with your lifestyle change and learn to cope with such raw and vulnerable feelings.
In order to keep moving in the right direction, it means applying the same tips you learned in treatment or in your recovery meetings. As a result, here are ten ways to maintain your sobriety for the long run.
Time Takes Time
You can’t achieve a year of lasting sobriety without getting past the six month mark and you can’t get past the six month mark without staying sober one day at a time. While the saying is extremely cliche, it works. It’s important not to overwhelm yourself by thinking about how you’re going to make it for the next three months. Focus on today – whether that means one hour, minute, or second. The day will eventually turn into one week, and one month becomes one year and over time, that year will become a lifetime.
While you continue to take things one day at a time, be sure you’re taking care of yourself. If you’re eating poorly chances are, you’re going to feel poorly. Nutrition and exercise can improve your mood and help you feel better overall. Those who are new in recovery can find themselves approaching their diet or exercise program a compulsion – basically substituting one addiction for another. The secret is to find a healthy balance where you maintain proper sleep hygiene, diet, and exercise and not over-do it.
Feel like using? Or just feel crappy? Go help someone. Use your time to spread your story, or even just use your time to help others. This can often strengthen your self-confidence and help you feel like a valued part of a community. This can be a simple act of opening a door for someone or actually going to a food bank and help out sorting through food. There are countless opportunities you can donate your time.
Deal With Past Mistakes
We didn’t get sober to run from our past anymore. Most people in recovery have left a lot of pain and suffering in their path through addiction. There are likely many things in your past that causes feelings of shame and guilt – which can eventually eat you up inside if not dealt with it properly.
Shame can be described as having negative feelings about yourself, while guilt can be described as having negative feelings about your behavior. To avoid relapse and to stay sober, it’s important that you begin to work through these feelings and take the necessary steps to clean up the mistakes from your past and live life responsibly.
Whether that looks like 12-step meetings, alumni meetings at your treatment center, or having a system to hold you up when you are struggling – we need support and connection. Nobody said sobriety was easy, and nobody can do it alone. Strength in numbers is a key concept to recovery.
There are many people who credit God, a higher power, and meditation to their sobriety – which can look like anything. Whether that be praying, attending a church, or sitting on the beach and taking some deep breaths to feel grounded and serene. Whatever the case may be, spirituality that is personal to you can often help keep our perspectives in check.
Remember Where You Came From
After awhile, many of us can forget the miserable existence we were living in addiction and find ourselves reminiscing at the “fun” we had. If we get too hyper-focused on that, we can begin to romanticize and eventually fall down a slippery slope headed to relapse. We got sober for a reason, and that reason wasn’t because our addiction was fun. If we remember where we came from and how badly we wanted out of that way of life before our new journey began – we can begin to experience life as it fully is being clean.
There is no one right way to stay sober, but but just using these tips once won’t cut it. We must form day to day habits that collectively incorporate all of these to keep up with our new lifestyle change. Sobriety is a huge undertaking, and the most successful people are the ones who can humble themselves to a point of taking some suggestions and applying them towards their day to day life.