Addiction can often make you feel like you’re in a constant battle between the desire to get sober and the need to feed the addiction. This inner tug of war makes the recovery process extremely difficult.
Sometimes, even the weight of society’s judgment against those with addiction can add more strain on a person and push them to rush into sobriety without first recognizing the emotional turbulence they’ll have to face before they succeed. They may feel very depressed, or as though they’ve failed the moment they start thinking of using again.
Knowing how these emotions will affect you is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll be able to handle yourself accordingly. Here are 5 things you can do to help you manage the rollercoaster of early recovery.
1. Find new hobbies that you enjoy.
Addiction can cause us to lose sight of the activities we once enjoyed. Over time those activities get replaced by substance use, and before you know it the addiction becomes your full-blown hobby. Start out by making small, realistic goals to reintroduce yourself to things you once loved or have always wanted to try. Go for walks, shoot a basketball or start a small garden. These are all excellent ways to maintain positivity and promote lifestyle changes.
2. Practice self-care.
As cliché as it sounds, regular exercise and eating right can make a world of difference for someone in recovery. Exercise is often referred to as a natural anti-depressant due to the number of endorphins it releases. Meanwhile, feeding your body with the nutrition it has been lacking will uplift your mood and stabilize energy levels. These activities don’t have to be boring either. Playing pickup basketball or joining healthy living cooking classes are great ways to meet positive, like-minded people and start giving your body the attention it deserves.
3. Personalize your space.
Addiction can often make us forget who we are and what we like. Over time, our living space—whether that is a room or an entire house—will start to reflect your lack of personal touch. Cleaning, rearranging furniture, and throwing on some paint on the walls can make you feel a strong sense of ownership and individualism that has more than likely been absent for a while.
4. Help others out and take on small responsibilities.
There is nothing more rewarding than helping another person. By offering your time to help others you can network and start building new meaningful relationships. The people that you help will view you as accountable and trust bonds will begin to form. The life of addiction is filled with deceit and can easily turn the most positive person into a cynical one. Laying the foundations of trust with positive people will make you more likely to reach out should you find yourself in need of help. Walking a neighbor’s dog or caring for someone’s houseplants are small tasks you can do for others that will have big rewards for your self-esteem.
5. Celebrate your achievements.
Did you go for a long walk, or eat a wholesome meal today? Have you moved your bed next to the window as you’ve always wanted to or help the elderly neighbor with her groceries? If you did, then celebrate it! Have a big bowl of ice cream or treat yourself to a new outfit that you feel great in. Even though these achievements appear small, they are all a part of a much bigger picture of the life that you’re moving towards.
Your life after addiction may feel like a thousand puzzle pieces strewn across a table, but once you have the corner pieces set, everything else will come together through a bit of hard work. Make these positive lifestyle and behavioral changes and prepare to see the beauty of your struggle. Remember that you are worth it, and forgive yourself even in those moments when you feel like you aren’t.