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An essential part of long-term recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction is gratitude. Gratitude, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” When you have a grateful mindset, you are able to approach situations with a positive outlook even when things go wrong because you know you still have much to be thankful for. Practicing gratitude, at Thanksgiving and throughout the year, teaches us how to respect and love ourselves, which enables us to respect and love others.
Thanksgiving Is a Time for Gratitude
Thanksgiving is the start of a long holiday season of family get-togethers and parties, which can be stressful for anyone–especially if you’re in recovery. This might be the first family gathering since you became sober. You may worry about being exposed to drugs or alcohol or reconnecting with family members or friends who use. However, the holiday can also provide the chance to really appreciate and celebrate the changes you’ve made and how fortunate you are to have a strong support system.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come. Take pride in your progress. Sticking with your recovery program, implementing and following new strategies, and relying on your support system are things you can celebrate with heartfelt gratitude.
Overcome Negativity with Gratitude
As a person in recovery, you know that nothing about sobriety can be taken for granted. Sobriety takes daily effort to combat negative thoughts and focus on your recovery goals. Because addictive substances compromised your brain’s reward system, you don’t get the same “high” from healthy activities that you did from drugs or alcohol. Mood disorders, emotional problems, and overall negativity can result.
Practicing gratitude can be a powerful tool to help guide the brain back to healthy functioning. Think of gratitude as a brain exercise. Being thankful for even the little things keeps your mind focused on your recovery goals. The positive state of mind you’re creating helps you avoid relapse.
Thinking about where you were in the past, where you are now, and where you want to be in the future gives you the strength to stay committed and motivated. It helps reinforce the values that are important to you.
Three Tips for Practicing Gratitude in Recovery
- Make a gratitude list – Start by writing down a list of five things you are grateful for. Your list could include the names of people who have helped you throughout your recovery; a step you’ve made toward your goals and dreams; a delicious meal; or what the sun looks like coming in your window. Once you start, you’ll probably find it easy to fill a page.
- Stay focused on what you have rather than on what you don’t have. When you focus on lack or limitation, you foster negative emotions, such as anger or jealousy, and create dissatisfaction and restlessness.
- Be kind, respectful, and focus on the best in others. Instead of feeling stressed by that annoying family member, stay centered and try to focus on kindness. You can be kind while still setting boundaries. Kindness can make a big difference in another person’s life and can help overcome any feelings of sadness, anger, or guilt they may be feeling.
There Is Help
Addiction takes away a person’s health, happiness, peace of mind, and so many other good things in their life. If you or someone you know needs help because of drug or alcohol addiction, call and speak to a professional at Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa, Arizona. The treatment program at Canyon Vista focuses on treating the entire individual, not just the diagnosis, by using a combination of medical, clinical, psychiatric, and holistic approaches.