Can I be happy in recovery?

6 ways to Stay Happy in Recovery

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Recovering from addiction takes a great deal of willpower and personal fortitude. Every day is a process of resisting temptation and recommitting to the goals of recovery. Even those who went through a controlled detox may still find themselves holding on grimly to recovery. Getting better is serious business, but that doesn’t have to mean being serious all the time. You can be happy in recovery.

In fact, most find that recovery is easier if you can help yourself to be happy along the way. Happiness is a natural way to ease pain and make time go by faster. Happiness can help you form new habits and look forward to the new routine you are building. These are all essential to a positive recovery, but it can also be tough to feel happy when overcoming an addiction. Withdrawals and cravings often lead to depression, negative self-talk, and feeling unwell either physically or emotionally.

The good news is that happiness is also easy to increase daily with a few personal tricks. Here’s how to feel happy in recovery:

1) Be Present – Stay in the Moment

We often want to linger on the past or get lost in thoughts of the future. Keep yourself in the moment, and stop yourself from either brooding or daydreaming too much. Don’t let your worries get you wrapped up and don’t let your plans get too fantastic. In recover, it helps to embrace what you’re doing, to be present with whatever activities or people are with you in each moment.

Remember to really engage when you’re in a conversation, or take a moment to “smell the roses” when you’re alone. Keep your thoughts about your challenges and goals right now instead of worrying on the past of future.

2) Do Things You Inherently Enjoy

Addiction creates a false “favorite thing” to do. But what are your real favorite things? What makes you inherently happy just to do? Some people find that inner contentment with gardening, some with painting. Some people love to build, or write, or bake. Explore what really makes you happy and rediscover old favorites, then do these things to enjoy your own naturally generated happiness.

3) Keep Your Body Healthy to Stay Happy in Recovery

Mood and physical health are very tightly bound. When you’re sick, you feel miserable. When you are healthy, you feel more energetic and are more likely to feel happy. If we could give just one physical health tip that’s easy to do: Drink water. Drink at least three big cups a day, as many as ten. Just this will flush your digestive system, hydrate your cells, improve your immune system, and increase your physical energy.

Exercise is also essential to boosting your happiness, the more cardio the better. Shake up your body to help get rid of lingering toxins and pump your cells with energy. It may be cliche advice, it may sound cheesy, but getting your blood pumping is both uplifting and can accelerate your recovery process.

4) Help Others

Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to learn something when you help someone else? Helping a friend learn their lines for a play, you wind up memorizing them yourself. The same occurs when you’re in recovery. Find people who need help and provide assistance. Not only will you get the warm-fuzzy feeling of doing good – a source of happiness on its own – you will also gain some insight and direction in how to help yourself.

Join a charity volunteer team, or just find friends and family who need assistance. A combination of altruism and hard work is great for lifting the spirits and providing some perspective.

5) Look for Things to Appreciate

Often, those in recovery are advised to be grateful, but maybe this is the wrong word. You don’t need to thank a host for a party invite, what you’re looking for is for the inner happiness of appreciating the little things. Take a moment in the morning to bask in a sunbeam coming through the window. Stop and literally smell the coffee. Be glad that your favorite sweater is fresh out of the dryer. Hug your favorite person for an extra second and remember to be happy they’re alive.

These little appreciations form an aggregate that, together, create happiness. When you remember to smile every few minutes because a flower is beautiful or a tune is familiar or your coffee tastes good, that life satisfaction.

6) Don’t Compare – Beat Your Own High-Score

Recovery is a very personal process and involves rebuilding aspects of your life along the way, so it helps not to compare yourself to others. Instead, focus on beating your own “high score.” Every day, try to do a little better than you did the day before to be happy in recovery. Appreciate more things, get more of your to-do list done. Maintaining a positive average is great, and even bad days can be held as victories if they’re better than your last bad day.

See challenges as a chance to avoid failure, congratulating yourself if you don’t break down, if you keep your temper, or if you make the right choice when tempted. Remember to celebrate those important little victories and your recovery will feel happier as you go.

Being happy during recovery is part of the challenge, and you are up to it. With perspective, presence, and physical health, any one can boost their mood and achieve increasing happiness as your recovery progresses. For assistance with your recovery or the recovery of someone you love, find our Fresno, California addiction treatment services by calling 844-489-0836.

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