Resolutions to Help Prevent Relapse

If you are making a New Year’s resolution to stay substance-free it may help to include “mini-resolutions” to support your goal. Here are some ideas to strengthen your sobriety journey.

10 Recovery Resolutions for the New Year

1. Build a solid support network

A support network is critical for people in recovery. It’s not necessarily important that your support network be large or feature prominent people in the recovery community; it’s more important that your support network supports you. This can be as simple as introducing yourself to a newcomer at a group meeting or taking part in a recovery-oriented social event. Friends, family, counselors, healthcare professionals, and anyone else that will have an interested and concerned role in your recovery can become part of this network.

2. Spend time with animals

Even if you already have a dog or a cat or another domestic pet, you should consider spending time with some other types of animals. Many people find large animals like horses and cows to be extremely peaceful, which some say allows for a meditative state when in their presence. Others enjoy feeding or watching birds and claim it has therapeutic value, while for others the serenity of marine aquarium fish provides the same benefit. Many healthcare professionals claim that spending time with animals can improve the quality and longevity of our lives and it can also teach us something about mutual respect, speechless communication, and stress management.

3. Volunteering & service

Service doesn’t have to be stressful; it can be something as simple as cleaning up after a group meeting, offering someone a ride to a meeting or therapy, or donating your time in a wide variety of ways. The holidays are a great time to volunteer at a shelter or serve meals to those in need.

4. Take time for yourself

All too often we become trapped in our schedules and take little free time for ourselves. However, doing so is important for your well-being, especially for those in recovery. Try a yoga class, read a new book or spend a day out in nature. It can be challenging to include self-care in your busy routine, but you’ll see the benefits.

5. Save a little money

You don’t need to set aside your entire paycheck, but start saving a little.  A suggestion is to start a small fund for emergencies or something special: at $10 per week saved you’ll have $520 at the end of the year, plus interest if you place the money in a savings account or Certificate of Deposit. Saving is a sign of stability and forward-thinking; a good indicator that your recovery program is strong.

6. Try something green

Help reduce your carbon footprint. Change your notebook or copy paper to recycled content, install a couple of solar panels, drive less, turn off lights and lower the heat/AC in rooms that are not in use, use biodegradable detergents and household products, and so on. Even if you only choose one “green” thing to do this year, one the next year, and one the next, it’s easy to see how you can quickly build up to making a real difference.

7. Exercise more

Many people in recovery recognize how important exercise is – and consequently, some set these huge, unattainable New Year’s resolutions for themselves that only lead to failure. If you are new to regular exercise start out slow; perhaps only stretching and minor exercises for a few weeks, then some strength and resistance training, perhaps a walk or jog once per week. When it comes to exercise and people in recovery, it doesn’t take much to make a difference. And often once that initial difference is felt, exercise is then indulged in much more freely, with significant physical, emotional, and mental benefits resulting.

8. Express gratitude toward loved ones

Sometimes life can become so hectic that there’s little time to actively appreciate the people we love.  A short card, a small gift, a special dinner or just a direct “I love you” can mean a lot not only to the person you care about but for you as well. Expressing affection and love makes us feel good, and it makes our friends, family, and romantic partners feel good as well.

9. Eat healthy food

Start eating better by eliminating the things that you just don’t need in your diet. You can start by restricting or eliminating soda and candy and work your way up to eating less red meat and more fish, poultry, and lean protein sources like nuts and beans. Little changes can go a long way when it comes to diet, and if you go slowly, one step at a time, it’ll be much easier to adjust if eating better means straying from what you’ve been used to your whole life.

10. Do something every day for your recovery

Relapse prevention requires doing something for your recovery every day. Whether this consists of attending a 12 Step meeting, visiting a therapist, talking with your sponsor, taking an honest self-inventory assessment, helping someone else in recovery, writing in a journal or reading daily affirmations, it takes a daily effort in order to keep a recovery plan alive. However, it’s important to understand that sometimes relapse happens despite your best efforts.  It does not mean you failed in recovery. But taking action now can make a big difference and get you back on track to recovery.

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