When it comes to addiction recovery, there are innumerable things to be grateful for. At the top of list, of course is sobriety. Getting sober is no small feat, and staying sober (at least during early recovery) can be even more difficult. Learning an entirely new way of life takes an ample amount of emotional energy, and every day you stay sober you should absolutely be giving yourself a huge pat on the back. However, it is not always easy for individuals trudging through the initial steps of their sobriety to maintain a positive mindset. Sometimes things feel difficult – maybe even unconquerable. But the more you walk through the difficult times unscathed the more confident you will feel in your own personal ability. Believe us – if you made it through active addiction and came out the other side, you will be able to make it through even the worst of days! At Immersion Recovery Center, we believe whole-heartedly in the positive power of gratitude. There have been many studies conducted on the power of positive thinking.
The Science Behind Staying Positive
A study published by U.S. Preventative Medicine titled, “Positive Psychology: Practicing the Power of Positive Thinking” explored how keeping an optimistic mindset actually improves overall quality of life. The study suggests that positive thinking not only has a major impact on the way we think, but it greatly affects the way we physically feel. Individuals who stay positive have a higher chance of staying sober because they feel emotionally, mentally and physically stronger and more capable. Another study published by Science Daily and titled, “Time to get real on the power of positive thinking” further confirms the correlation between optimism and long-term well-being. The study suggests that while optimism has a major impact on general happiness, it is important to remain realistic. What does this mean for you? Accept that you will have bad days on occasion, but it is up to you to lift yourself out of the doldrums and move forward in your recovery.
How do you do this? Learn to focus on gratitude whenever you start to feel down! One of the best ways to do this is by making a gratitude list.
What is a Gratitude List
A gratitude list is exactly what it sounds like – a list of things you’re grateful for. At Immersion Recovery Center, we teach our clients how to make their own gratitude lists as part of our comprehensive program of alcohol addiction recovery. Doing so has proven to be an exceptionally useful coping skill. In our Therapy programs, therapists walk clients through the process of creating a “Gratitude Box,” where they store their gratitude lists for later reference. Taking a look back at things you were previously grateful for can help change your mindset instantaneously. Of course, there is no right way to do this exercise – just as there is no wrong way to do this exercise. Clients will be encouraged to write a list of things they are grateful for on a daily basis. This activity facilitates self-reflection and positivity.
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What does a gratitude list look like? We’ve compiled an example list below!
Gratitude List – An Example:
- I am grateful that I woke up clean and sober today.
- I am grateful that no matter what happens today, I will have my sober support group to help me through every situation that might arise.
- I am grateful that I have a roof over my head.
- I am grateful that I have food in my belly.
- I am grateful that I have the opportunity to better myself and my life.
- I am grateful that I am in good health.
- I am grateful that I have a friend to talk things through with when I’m feeling down.
- I am grateful for my favorite pair of jeans.
- I am grateful for my favorite band, and I am grateful that I can listen to music that makes me feel good whenever I want to.
- I’m grateful that I have the freedom to dictate the outcome of my own life.
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The list can be long; the list can be short. The list can include deep and meaningful things or things like, “I’m grateful that I got to eat pizza for dinner tonight.” Make it your own! Making a gratitude list is a beneficial part of every nightly routine for several reasons. First of all, developing healthy habits is always a plus – developing healthy habits that facilitate emotional and mental well-being is a major plus. Secondly, if you ever feel down in the dumps and you have a big stack of old gratitude lists, you can read through them in attempts to make yourself feel a little more optimistic about life.
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A study published by the Mayo Clinic titled, “Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress” suggests that positive affirmations can have a significant impact on your overall quality of life. Most individuals who have struggled with alcohol addiction will commonly engage in negative self-talk, meaning they will internally tell themselves things like, “You’re a bad person,” or, “You can’t do this.” At Immersion Recovery Center, we put a huge emphasis on turning these negative patterns of thinking into positive ones. We work to instill all of the coping skills necessary in order for each of our clients to maintain a lifetime of fulfilled recovery.
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As according to the Mayo Clinic study, researchers have determined that there are numerous additional benefits to staying positive, including:
- Lowering rates of depression and other mental health conditions
- Increasing overall lifespan – that’s right; happy people live longer!
- Helping to boost the immune system. Those that stay happy and positive are proven to get sick less often!
- Developing better coping skills, skills that can be employed during stressful times in order to speed along the process of moving from a negative headspace to a positive one
- Improved heart health – those who stay positive have lower rates of cardiovascular disease!
- Recognizing areas that need to change and putting more focus and attention on those specific areas.
- Developing closer and more meaningful friendships. Misery loves company, but most people don’t enjoy spending ample time with someone who is always in a negative headspace. Learning to stay positive and grateful will help attract positive and fun people – and lifelong friends.
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If you have been struggling to stay grateful no matter where you are in your personal recovery journey, we strongly encourage you to jot down a quick list of 10 things you’re grateful for. We understand that when you are stuck in a negative mindset it is very difficult to self-motivate – fortunately, we are available to help. We have numerous resources available to men and women who need an extra boost of motivation; simply give us a call and we will help you in any and every way we can. Our program of recovery is not merely available to men and women who are in need of inpatient treatment. We offer a comprehensive aftercare program for those who have completed inpatient treatment and are ready to move onto the next appropriate phase of their recovery journey.
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Serving as the Inpatient Clinical Director at Immersion Recovery Center, Susan will work directly with staff members, clients, and family members to ensure the clinical program remains as effective and individualized as possible. Susan is no stranger to the fields of behavioral health and addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, working in an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, acute stabilization and nearly all other settings in the realm of addiction recovery.