Allowing yourself to experience a greater sense of gratitude in life makes day-to-day routines seem like a blessing, rather than a chore; for people in early recovery, gratitude can make a huge difference in the overall quality of their life and their recovery. Gratitude allows you to experience happiness, can open the door to new relationships and friendships, and will improve your physical and psychological health, while also enhancing empathy and reducing aggression. Let’s take a look at some research-backed evidence and helpful tips concerning this all-important trait.
Evidence-Based Research on Gratitude
First, let’s start off with a simple definition.
Gratitude: noun. “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Gratitude is a key component of the 12-step way of thinking in Alcoholics Anonymous; many sponsors instruct their sponsees to write gratitude lists and practice gratefulness daily. Gratitude can ease the pain of disappointment and the stresses of life before they become an issue. Gratitude allows people to see things as they are, without the coloring of individual perception.
Gratitude Increases Mental Fortitude
A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy researched the levels of post-traumatic stress (PTSD) in Vietnam War veterans. Veterans with higher levels of self-reported gratitude experienced dramatically lower rates of PTSD and stress-related illnesses. Gratitude can transition your object of mental fixation from a negative event towards a more optimistic and bright outlook. It’s hard to be bogged down by negative past events when you are experiencing the beauty of the moment or the optimism of the future.
Gratitude Increases Sleep Quality
In 2011, a study was published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. The study found that subjects who spent 15 minutes journaling a few grateful sentiments before bed slept longer and deeper than the control subjects. The bottom line? Gratitude journaling can improve your overall quality of sleep.
More Gratitude = Improved Self-Esteem and Physical Health
Gratitude has been shown to reduce social and economic comparison amongst people; rather than resent themselves or others because someone may have more money or a better job, grateful individuals are able to appreciate other people for their accomplishments without wallowing in negative comparison. Gratitude has the ability to remove toxic emotions; jealousy, regret, envy, frustration, anger, and self-pity are all very difficult to experience when you are filled with gratitude. According to a leading gratitude researcher, Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., numerous studies show a direct link between the practice of gratitude and reduced rates of depression. Emmons’ research also confirms that gratitude is linked to increased levels of happiness and life/job satisfaction.
Another benefit? Gratitude was shown to increase athlete’s level of optimal performance, according to a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. Grateful people have been shown to take better care of their health, exercise more, and visit the doctor’s office more frequently. Grateful individuals also experience fewer injuries, aches, and pains, according to a 2012 study conducted in Personality and Individual Differences.
Tips On Gratitude
Gratitude is a wonder-drug. Better sleep, more self-esteem, improved physical and mental health, and an increase in empathy? Sure sounds like a good deal. People in early recovery can use all the tools they can get their hands on; count gratitudes instead of resentments, and we can guarantee that your perception towards life will begin to change.
Live in the Moment
Are you missing the forest because you are focused on the trees? It is easy to lose mindfulness and go through the routine of life. Whatever you are experiencing in the moment, truly experience it. If you are washing the dishes, experience the suds on your hands. If you are having dinner with a friend, put your phone away and be absorbed in the other person and the conversation. If you are working out, then work out! Feel your muscles contract and your pores sweat.
Immerse Yourself in Motivational Quotes
Feelings of gratitude can manifest emotions and situations that you never thought possible. Appreciate more, live more, and be more content with your current situation, no matter what it is. Many influential individuals have found great solace in gratitude.
In Summation, two quotes from Captain Jack Sparrow:
- “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?”
- “Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.”
Be Careful with Your Words
Do you find yourself saying negative things about yourself or other people in your own head? Words are incredibly powerful and they have the power to shape your entire reality. Saying things like “I’m so depressed, I can’t get over this”, “I’m too tired to do that…”, or “I can’t”, can shape your reality in ways you can’t imagine.
Control your thoughts! If you find yourself feeling more entitled, resentful, or you keep repeating negative self-talk…. Stop! Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool when you begin to take accountability for your thoughts and actions. Any time you begin to experience negativity or rumination, think to yourself, “thought!” Stop the process of rumination and move on. What you feed, will grow.
Live in an Abundance Mindset
The world is full of opportunities. Life has just begun. There is so much out there to see, to do, to touch, to experience! The glass if always half-full. Be content with what you currently have! Anything else that you receive from this point onwards is a gift. Every day is a gift.
That sure sounds better than “I can’t”, doesn’t it?
Move on from the Past
Acknowledge your past failures but do not wallow in them. As the Big Book in Alcoholics Anonymous says: “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it”. The past is simply a learning experience; previous failures, heart brakes, frustrations, mistakes, and misgivings are stepping stones. By learning who you are not, you will begin to learn who you are. Use the past as a road towards your own self-actualization.
Be grateful of the pain in your life. Be grateful of the pleasure in your life. Be grateful that you have the capacity to experience everything that life has to offer.
Closing Thoughts on Gratitude
Gratitude is one of the most effective tools for people, both in and out of recovery. You don’t need to be a recovering addict or alcoholic to experience the beauty that gratitude has to offer; you just need to be a willing person. Often times, humans will create their own problems when presented with the absence of real issues. Take it upon yourself to create joy.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured”. – Mark TwainLearn More
A healthier lifestyle should be a necessary component to anyone that is recovering from alcohol or drug addiction. Recovery is an ongoing process that needs to include multiple avenues of treatment. This may include 12-step meetings, working with a therapist, talking with sober supports and friends, hiring a sober escort or companion, staying active, and eating healthy. Support for your mental wellness should be just as important as support for your physical well-being. A strong mind and a strong body will help ease the transition from addiction to a sober lifestyle.
Post-Treatment Addiction Consulting
While Recovery Care Partner offers post-treatment support such as sober escorts, sober companions, and sober transport, a certain degree of personal responsibility needs to come from the addict themselves. Maintenance of a healthy lifestyle can be achieved through outdoor activities, group activities, exercise, proper nutrition, and mindfulness meditation and exercises. 12-step meetings don’t hurt either!
Exercise in Early Recovery
Exercise has been scientifically proven to boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These two “feel-good” hormones can contribute to better sleep, better mood, and an overall improved sense of well-being. It’s a smart idea to adopt a new exercise program or regime to help bolster yourself in early recovery.
Many people benefit from group fitness classes such as CrossFit, Yoga, Pilates, Spinning classes, and group weightlifting exercises. Finding other sober people that enjoy the same physical activities as you can not only motivate you to achieve better physical health; it can also help build new sober friendships and relationships.
Having sober friends can make all the difference in early sobriety, as it gives you a chance to connect with people who have gone through similar things. Many people do not understand just how devastating and debilitating addiction can really be. This is why having people that can relate to your experiences can make all the difference; they are also people that you can attend meetings with. Many former addicts in recovery state that the friends they made in early recovery have been friends for years.
Try activities such as rock climbing, camping, hiking, martial arts, kayaking, paddle boarding, and going to the beach! Group sports such as volleyball, basketball, and flag football are also great ways to build friendships and comradery.
Nutrition for a Recovering Body
Fueling your body with the right food is absolutely necessary! Early recovery is tough and many people choose to make it even more difficult by not giving their body the proper nutrition it requires. A body weakened by drug and alcohol addiction needs time to recover, so make sure you are eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and legumes. Try to avoid foods that can cause mood crashes, such as processed foods, sugary drinks, soda, and processed sugar. While pizza is fine once in a while, try not to make it a daily occurrence!
Drinking enough water will help keep you hydrated and feeling healthy, so make sure not to neglect drinking this vital substance. Here are just a few examples of healthy food to help get you started:
- Fruits: apples, bananas, berries, peaches, plums, mangos, and avocados.
- Lean Meats: turkey, sirloin steak, chicken, ham, and turkey.
- Fish: salmon, trout, halibut, swordfish, tuna, mackerel, herring, haddock, mahi mahi, and catfish.
- Vegetables: broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, onion, asparagus, beets, carrots, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, chard, and red cabbage.
- Legumes: black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, and navy beans.
- Whole grains: brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, pasta and crackers, millet, bulgur, and buckwheat.
Mindfulness Exercises for a Calm Brain
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool, especially when used with other therapies. Mindfulness meditation means quieting your brain and becoming an observer to your thoughts; it means not emotionally reacting to negative feelings and deliberations. Zen can be thought of as the moment before a thought, and many people practice for a lifetime to try and reach this state. No one is perfect with their practice; trying your best is all that you should ask of yourself and others.
Mindfulness meditation groups can often be found within yoga groups and classes or through certain therapists. Ask around! You’ll never know what you may find through this powerful practice.
Addiction Counseling and Intervention Specialists
You can only help a person as much as they want to help themselves; this is why it is so important for an addict to take personal responsibility and care for their mental and physical well-being.
Recovery Care Partner offers people that are currently facing addiction – as well as recovering addicts – the chance to help them land on their feet. Everyone, at some point in their lives, is going to need a little help from others.
This is where Recovery Care Partner shines. Our sober companions and sober transition coaching offers people in early recovery the tools to help succeed in life; life skills augmentation, proper nutrition, mindfulness exercises, exercise regiments, resume writing, and skill building are all facets that our sober companions and addiction coaches love to teach.
If your loved one is struggling with addiction, or you need some additional support yourself while going through early recovery, do not hesitate to call Recovery Care Partner at (855) 727-2887. You can also reach us via our contact page by clicking here.
Respect your body. It’s the only one you get.Learn More
As a newly recovering addict begins to take steps down a new path in life, they may find themselves emotionally and psychologically vulnerable after years of numbing their emotions with drugs and alcohol. Even with all the addiction education and recovery care management resources available, emotions can be overwhelming and difficult to process in early recovery. One of the greatest and most overlooked assets to a recovering addict, or anyone in this world, is gratitude. Maintaining a positive outlook, even in the most difficult of conditions, can mean the difference between having a good day that runs smoothly or feeling like the world is crashing down around you. Here are some basic strategies you or a recovering addict can implement into your weekly routine.
Wake up grateful! When you rise you greet the day, take some time out to pray or meditate and think about someone or something in life that you are grateful for. This really helps shift your perspective and starts to frame everything you see in a more positive way. It isn’t always apparent immediately, but the positive mindset produced by starting your day off right will seep into all aspects of your life. You will start to find yourself more relaxed, resilient, optimistic, productive, social, and even see an improvement in your health and well-being.
Make a Gratitude List
Cleaning up the wreckage of our past can be extremely difficult. Building a new life from the bottom up often means we aren’t left with much to work with, but you can always find something to be grateful for. Most pieces of addiction education literature will tell you to consider writing a gratitude list. Items could include something as simple as the cup of coffee you have to help jump-start your day, or as personal as the loved one who hasn’t given up on you through all the hard times.
Look at What You Have, Instead of What You Don’t
There are billionaires who have everything one could ever imagine in life but still can’t seem to find happiness. There are also people who are just scraping by that have a sense of peace and joy that seems unattainable to those watching from the outside. It’s easy to get caught up in “keeping up with the Jones’”, and after hitting rock bottom it can seem like an almost impossible climb back up out of the hole you dug yourself in. Often, we find we had taken everything we held dear for granted in our illness anyway, and material things never seemed to bring the happiness we thought they would. Though it may feel like all is lost, we find a new strength within ourselves in recovery we never knew previously existed. We can find new qualities within ourselves and new things to be grateful for every day. Take inventory of all the blessings life has bestowed upon you. Stop and smell the flowers a little, take time to notice the little things we take for granted every day. Sometimes you will find something beautiful that used to be overlooked.
In my time in the rooms of AA, I’ve heard it said plenty of times that “a grateful addict/alcoholic will never relapse”. Time after time again I’ve seen this to be true. Gratitude is an essential part of recovery. If you’re currently in recovery and struggling with negative thoughts and emotions, take some time out to count your blessings and find something you are grateful for. Reach out and help your fellow man to get out of yourself and take the focus off of your own struggles. Read addiction education literature to help find ways to deal with a specific problem, and consult your recovery care management team if you have any problems and wish to seek extra counseling.
Recovery Services in Atlanta, Georgia
If you or a loved one are currently struggling with drugs or alcohol, there is a way out. We offer intervention services to help facilitate your gateway to a new life free of the shackles of substance abuse. Contact us anytime here, our staff is available 24/7 to find you help.Learn More
The process of entering treatment or watching a loved one go off to receive help for an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs can be an emotionally stressful and trying time. Recovery Care Partner exists to help those who are ready to take this step in life. Treatment centers want those who are preparing to enter their facilities to be well prepared to make the decision to enter treatment. Someone that is not ready for help can sometimes be persuaded through the tool of an intervention, but those who accept help are more likely to succeed in a recovery care management center.
It is important to seek professional help when dealing with an individual who suffers from an addiction. Addiction is a disease, and those who have an addiction may not respond in ways that seem rational when approached about their need to get help. Getting in touch with a recovery care center such as Recovery Care Partner is going to greatly help someone who has a loved one struggling with an addiction. There will be things to remember when considering treatment, or when a loved one is considering going to treatment.
What to Remember Pre-Treatment
Call the Professionals
Remember that facilities like Recovery Care Partner exist for the sole purpose of helping people get sober and helping their families heal from the wounds of addiction. The men and women working in recovery treatment centers are passionate about helping people. Give a call today and see the many resources that are available to those who are struggling. Recovery Care Partner even offers a complimentary 30-minute pre-treatment consultation.
You Are Not Alone
Remember that there are many families in the United States, and even around the world, who are affected by the disease of addiction. Reaching out and seeking help is the first step to surrounding oneself with a caring recovery group that is passionate about seeing people get their lives right.
Addiction Can Be Life and Death
For some addicts, it may be a while before the consequences of their actions become serious. However, for some who have been in addiction for long amounts of time, the best option for someone pre-treatment can be an intervention. When seeking help, it is important to remember that many who have gone before have had an intervention and gone on to successfully get help for an addiction. The best option is going to be seeking the help of a professional addiction specialist that can determine if this option best suits the needs of a family or individual.
Recovery Care Partner is comprised of a small, core group of recovery specialists who want to help treat the needs of those who are in addiction. Addiction is a serious disease, and because of that, the main goal is going to be to help those who are in addiction to recover and to build stable lives. The founder, Don Sloan, has over 30 years of experience in the addiction and recovery field and has orchestrated hundreds of interventions. To get in touch with them today, call 855-727-2887!Learn More