Holidays are a time for gratitude, self-reflection, and sharing time with loved ones. But the holidays can also be tough. There always seems to be some sort of family drama, everyone seems stressed out with gift shopping and attending events they feel obligated to, and therefore a lot of normalized partying and drinking that takes place. It can be a lonely time for some of us or an overwhelmingly busy time for others. No matter which side of the spectrum you’re on, there’s one thing to remember when trying to navigate this holiday season: staying thankful for sobriety.
Why Gratitude is Important
Anyone who regularly practices gratitude will tell you it drastically improves their quality of life. In fact, science is even starting to proclaim that gratitude can make people happier, healthier, and even help change negative behaviors. When you can be appreciative of what you already have, that leaves less room in your life for complaining, feeling a sense of “lack”, and constantly seeking outside fulfillment elsewhere. Many professionals, athletes, and productivity experts swear by keeping a morning gratitude list. The goal is to think of and then write down at least three things you’re grateful for when you wake up. This starts your day off with a positive outlook, mental reassurance, and sets the tone for how you want to feel. It might sound cheesy, or even a little wishy-washy, but you’ll never know until you try.
What Can You Be Thankful For?
Those of us who are recovering addicts might already be familiar with the importance of gratitude thanks to the help of 12-step programs and support groups. At first, we wake up every day thankful to still be alive. Every new morning we don’t wake up hungover is another huge check off the gratitude list.
Here are some other helpful things to add to your list being thankful for sobriety:
No matter what your current physical or mental health is like, you can be glad it’s going to continue improving the longer you stay sober. Even if things seem to get worse before they get better, remember, you’re alive. You’re breathing, you have a new chance at life without the pain that comes from drug and alcohol addiction. You can now decide every day what you want to do with your physical fitness, appearance, attitude, and overall quality of life. It’s up to you now, and you’ll no longer be dragged down by the side effects of substance abuse day and night.
A Sober Mind
A personal favorite: Being thankful for a clear mind. Life can seem challenging or too painful, and thus many people turn to substances to dull their experiences. But after learning how unhelpful that temporary solution actually is, it’s a privilege to now see life through clear eyes. Instead of the drugs influencing how I see the world, I get to influence how I want to react to the world. Plus, after a while, it gets easier to follow through with goals, learn new skills, and pursue habits and ideas that become increasingly important on the sober journey.
We all have loved ones, family, and friends that have helped shape us into who we are. And some of us even have loved ones who encourage us to constantly become our better selves. There’s nothing like having gratitude for other people we truly care about in life. When we love other people, it inspires us that much more to continue in recovery. Friends and family want us around. Additionally, we want to enjoy time and experience with those we care about. Sobriety, thankfully, allows us that.
Freedom from the shackles of addiction is another thing to be thankful for every single day. We’re not living in constant fear, rage, shame, or denial anymore– we now have the freedom to recreate a life that was once dependent on our addiction. We also the freedom to attend events and social hangouts without worrying about needing a DD or driving home under the influence, which is also a huge relief.
With new freedom of sobriety comes the chance at personal opportunities. These include new financial, career, personal, and relationship opportunities. We can set new goals and meet new obstacles with the mindset of opportunity, instead of disappointment in ourselves for knowing we probably won’t commit due to habitual drug use.
You Can Enjoy a Holiday for What It Is
Now that you’re not spending the holidays inebriated or mentally asleep, you can be fully alert to see the celebration for what it really is. Instead of focusing on getting your next hookup or planning where to get high, you can show up fully sober and experience a holiday completely present. Plus, you’ll have these special times to keep as memories for the rest of your life.
Continual Self Improvement and Learning
Being thankful for sobriety includes gratitude for the future, too– not just the present moment. Being sober means having the chance at consistent self-improvement. No matter what happens in life, through all the challenges and setbacks we can keep having the hope things can always improve even more. Isn’t that the point of life, anyway? We always change, grow, and evolve as best we can.
You Can Help Others
Further down the road of recovery, we can offer help and advice to those who enter sobriety in a way that we once did! We remember what it was like, what we felt, how intimidated we might have been. Well, there’s nothing like learning from someone who’s been exactly where you are, and ultimately overcame it. The same goes for sobriety– we all help each other out, and staying thankful can be a huge example to someone who doesn’t know where they might be headed right now.
Sharing that You’re Thankful for Sobriety Encourages Others
In the same way that helping others is important, sharing your personal gratitude can have a positive ripple effect on those around you, no matter who they are. During the holidays, everybody throws around words like “Thanks” and “Gratitude” but when you really mean it, it’s something that can be felt. And that feeling of honor and appreciation can bring people together, keep you in a motivational perspective, and continue to better the immediate world around you.
What Are You Thankful For?
So this holiday season, what are you grateful for? What things in your life– no matter how big or small– deserve a little extra respect and appreciation? Write them down, share with others, and let the people you’re grateful for actually know what they mean to you and why. As the end of the year approaches, remember to continue being thankful for sobriety and all it’s given you.
If you or a loved one needs help overcoming drug or alcohol addiction, call us at 949-625-4019