Build healthy habits for life and reclaim the word “habit”!
Research shows that around 80% of all New Year’s resolutions fail.
This figure doesn’t offer much comfort to those recovering from addiction or supporting a recovering addict. However, most new year’s resolutions fail because they are introduced as blanket statements rather than realistic and achievable goals:
- “I will go to the gym more”
- “I will get fit this year”
- “I will eat better”
…and so on.
There is no structure to the resolution, no measurable outcome to track success – how many more trips to the gym and how often equals success? How much fitter do you have to get to say you’ve met your resolution? How much of an improvement to your diet is better than last year?
Another reason why most new year’s resolutions fail is that it takes time to build the necessary skills and mindset to implement long-lasting change. A lot of people make a new year’s resolution and then decide, on January 1st, that they’re just going to get up and do it.
In reality, it takes a lot more motivation and consistency over time to implement the change we’d like to see.
Robert Collier, an author of numerous self-help and new thought books, said:
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
Which is also a great comparison to addiction recovery – you don’t just quit cold turkey and that’s it, you’re not addicted anymore.
It is a journey where you put one foot in front of the other and take each day as it comes. You learn to overcome your triggers and addictions over time – “small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
So, why would you make a blanket New Year’s resolution statement that is unrealistic and likely unachievable?
We suggest you don’t.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make goals or introduce positive changes in the new year at all!
What we, at The Recovery Lodge, would suggest is instead of making New Year’s resolutions that are unrealistic or difficult to break down into manageable goals, introduce healthy habits into your daily, weekly, or monthly routine.
Reclaiming the word “habit” for a healthier future
By introducing healthy habits into your life, you are not only taking positive steps towards a healthier lifestyle but also reclaiming the term “habit”, which can be a difficult word for someone in addiction recovery due to the negative connotations associated with it. Instead, the word “habit” becomes a force for good and positivity.
Ideas for healthy habits for recovering addicts
We’re not suggesting you should try and do all of these at once. Remember the quote above about small efforts?
These are just ideas; you can implement as few or as many as you like into your routine but try to avoid going “all in” and doing too much too soon – this is more likely to result in failure than success.
Introduce a little at a time and then slowly increase it over time if you wish. This approach is far more likely to be maintained, manageable, and successful. If you do this, hopefully, by the end of the year you’ll have formed some great, healthy habits that’ll last a lifetime.
Maintain your recovery and/or rehab
This may seem obvious, but we’ve put this as the first good habit to keep up because of how important it is.
Sometimes, it can be easy to get side-tracked by new goals and ambitions and let certain things slide. It is important, however, to keep up the coping mechanisms you’ve been taught in rehab and recovery support to minimise the risk of relapse. You should also maintain addiction recovery appointments such as therapy, support groups, and doctor’s appointments.
Let supportive people in
Emphasis on the “supportive” here, as many people that you may have been close with in the past could be potential triggers for your addiction now.
So, while we are saying that you should try let people into your life again, we would also caveat that by saying be careful who you let back in.
Having positive, supportive people around you will only help aid your recovery, give you someone to talk to when you need to, and help you receive encouragement when you need it. Let good, positive influences into your circle of friends and family. Your recovery journey will be much easier with the right support network around you.
Make healthy choices
Make healthy choice both for your body and your mind.
This could be anything that has a positive effect on the health of your body and your mental wellbeing. Your addiction will likely have had an impact on both.
Research has shown that making healthy choices, physically and mentally, help to aid addiction recovery and prevent relapse.
Some things you may consider:
- Healthy food and drink choices
- Walks in nature
- Group activities (without the risk of triggers such as alcohol)
- Time spent with family and friends
Or something as small as enjoying a good cup of coffee in the morning while you reflect on how far you’ve come and the progress you’ve made.
Avoid negative thoughts
Now, this one will definitely not happen overnight. It takes time to train yourself to avoid negative thoughts and self-talk and it is something you need to remain conscious of to create long-lasting change.
Every time you notice that you are thinking negatively or talking about yourself in a negative way in your head, stop, acknowledge it and try and turn it into a positive.
For example, while attempting a task or trying to perform an action, you catch yourself thinking “Arrgh, why can’t I do this? I’m such a failure!”
Stop that thought process from spiralling, resulting in you giving up on the task at hand and potentially triggering old bad behaviours.
Change what you are telling yourself so that it is more positive, without lying to yourself at the same time: “No. I can’t do this right now. That’s right. But that’s not to say I can’t learn to do it. I just need time to practice.” Or “Yes. This isn’t working. Maybe I need to approach it from a different angle. What haven’t I tried?”
See how you can flip a negative, self-critical, thought process that can easily transform into a downward spiral into a positive mindset that pushes you forwards towards success?
We’ll reiterate – this isn’t an easy, overnight change. It will take time and practice – “small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
But it is definitely worth the effort, and you’ll be surprised at the difference it can make to your overall wellbeing and attitude towards life, too!
Make lists of things you’re grateful for. Make a list of positive affirmations. Make a list of things you’d like to learn or achieve. Make a list of all the things that happened today or yesterday that made you smile or that you are thankful for. Make a list of things you’ve done today, this week, this year, that has made you feel good about yourself or proud.
Make a list of anything that could help lift your mood, give you a sense of gratitude, increase self-esteem and optimism, and help support your recovery.
Pick up a hobby, learn a new skill, or try a new activity
Was there something you used to love doing before your addiction? Is there something new you’d love to learn or try your hand at? Have you seen a local club advertised that you fancied giving a go? Do it.
Returning to old hobbies, starting new ones, learning new skills, or taking part in new activities are all great ways to engage your mind, keep you active, and meet new people with common interests.
Improve your ability to ask for help
Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. It takes courage, humility, and strength to ask someone for help.
Try and reduce the sense of fear or dread about asking for help when you are struggling on your addiction recovery journey and reach out to someone for support, whether that’s a friend, family member, counsellor, an addiction recovery support service, or helpline.
As we’ve mentioned, introducing small, positive habits, and maintaining them consistently, will bring about a positive change in your life. Not only that, but the consistency will help embed them as routine and be much more likely to become a permanent lifestyle choice.
Happy New Year.