What are you grateful for? Sometimes we’re so caught up in the day-to-day of recovery that we forget to stop and express appreciation for the things we have and the people we love. Thinking about what you’re grateful for instantly shifts your perspective.
Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California Davis, has been researching gratitude for nearly two decades and has found that people who practice gratitude daily report consistent physical, psychological and social benefits. Gratitude strengthens your immune system and lowers your blood pressure; helps you feel more positive, joyful and optimistic; and reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation.
These simple practices will help you incorporate more gratitude into your life and boost your recovery.
1. Make time for people.
If you want to be grateful, spend quality time with the people you love. In recovery, we rely a lot on other people. You need a robust support system of people who can help you celebrate your accomplishments and lift you up when you’re feeling low.
Return the favor by calling the people you love just to check in and say hello or make plans to meet for coffee or lunch. It shows you and your loved one that you care about them and need them all the time, not just in moments of crisis.
2. Start a gratitude journal.
Make a habit of writing down three to five things you’re grateful for each day. Jot them down in a notebook or start a running list on your phone. It helps you visualize all that you’re grateful for, when can keep you in a positive state of mind and motivate you to stay engaged in your recovery.
3. Remain teachable.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in recovery. You will never know it all. No one will. There is always something to learn and somewhere to grow.
Gratitude is a form of self-awareness that requires you to be aware of the things you’re grateful for. It’s important to recognize that although you’ve made a commendable amount of progress, you still have a lot of growing to do, and the growth will never stop. Stay humble and remain teachable.
4. Remember the tough times.
Although it seems counterintuitive, thinking about the bad times in your life is such an effective way to bring more gratitude into your life. Setbacks happen, but you survived and ultimately came out stronger, so embrace them as a part of your recovery journey. Whether it was a financial hardship, a difficult breakup or a devastating loss, reflecting on those tough times can give you some valuable perspective when it feels like you have no reason to be grateful.
If you have five minutes to spare, meditate. When you have time to take a moment to clear your head and breathe, take advantage of it.
6. Think about what you have–not what you want.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have? There’s nothing wrong with feeling content with what you already have while working toward the things you want. But if you’re caught up in the things you don’t have, you’re never going to have enough.
Make a conscious effort to shift your mindset toward gratitude for what you have instead of disappointment for what you lack. If you’re healthy and sober, your bills are paid and you have a supportive network of friends and family, you’re doing pretty well.
7. Help others.
According to research from the University of Exeter in Exeter, UK, volunteering can lower feelings of depression and increase overall well-being. We become more grateful when we give rather than receive.
At Immersion Recovery Center, we connect our clients with volunteering opportunities throughout the South Florida community. Whether you choose to help out at the local animal shelter, soup kitchen or beach clean up, offering your time and talents in meaningful ways can help you feel more grateful.
For more information about how Immersion’s continuum of addiction recovery services can help you or someone you care about, contact an Immersion Recovery Specialist at 561.419.3349.