By the time the end of January rolls around, a large percentage of people who committed to make positive changes in the new year will have long discarded their goals. It is fun to engage in a new behavior or exciting to focus on possibility with the fresh start that January 1 brings, but to continue to engage in a new habit that is physically or emotionally difficult or just plain boring may be difficult to sustain as the calendar pages continue to turn.
If you are among those losing steam this month and your recovery resolutions are getting lost in everything else you have going on, you can still turn things around and get the most out of your hopes for yourself in recovery.
Here are a few tips to help you along:
- Do the smallest thing possible. Choosing to do something small that is positive and helps you to stay focused on your recovery goals is a great way to keep moving forward when all you want to do is nothing. Not interested in eating that recommended healthy breakfast? Have a glass of water or hot tea. Can’t muster up the energy for a workout? Stand up where you are and walk in place or take care of a something active on your to-do list like cleaning your car or walking the dog. Not interested in going to a meeting? Text your sponsor or read a positive, mental wellness focused book.
- Connect with a buddy. Who else do you know who is also working to eat right, get to 90 meetings in 90 days, do the prerequisites to get into a certain degree program, or otherwise working on positive recovery goals? Reach out to them and talk to them about it. If you can, find a regular time to meet up or just check in with them regularly to see how their progress is going and share your own experience. Just knowing you are not in it alone can do great things for your motivation level.
- Get back to basics. Are you feeling overwhelmed with your recovery resolution? Is it much more taxing than you thought it would be, emotionally difficult to face, physically tiring, or boring? If you are having a hard time finding the emotional fortitude to handle the work in front of you, turn your attention to the basics. Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night, drinking enough water, staying away from processed foods full of trans fats and empty calories, and choosing instead to fill up on whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein. Even making sure to brush and floss your teeth twice a day, take a 20-minute walk every day, and laugh will improve your ability to get through the not-so-interesting parts of your recovery resolution.
- Change it up. If you feel like your recovery resolution just isn’t producing the results you were hoping for, it may be time to go back to the drawing board and reconsider. Consider what it is you are trying to accomplish with your recovery resolution. What end results are you hoping to achieve? If your current recovery resolutions are not moving the needle or feel unsustainable, consider what alternatives are available to you and make thoughtful changes accordingly. For example, if you are trying to bulk up your engagement with recovery by doing tai chi in the park every morning only to find out that you hate it, why not try an outdoor adventure therapy or equine-assisted therapy instead? As long as the new behavior will help you achieve your recovery goal, it makes sense to change it up if it turns out to not be as amazing as you hoped.
- Head to treatment. If your recovery goal was to remain active in recovery and stay sober and you are finding you are unable to accomplish this goal on your own, it may be time to head back to treatment or choose a more intensive level of care than you previously took part in. Achieving your recovery goals is only possible when you have a strong foundation in recovery, the kind provided by intensive and comprehensive treatment.
How are you doing on your recovery resolutions in 2018?