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I’d like to invite you to pause and take a deep breath…..and put on your rubber cleaning gloves if you’ve got them (not literally…well, maybe). Mine are yellow and reach just to the elbow. They have come in handy during things like global pandemics when I need something to protect me from the mail or the far too frequent Amazon boxes at my front door. I’ve needed something to keep my hands clean and fresh. When I need to use my hands for things throughout the day (which I invariably do), they are ready. I get it – sometimes recovery can get a little stale. But keeping recovery squeaky clean and fresh is not that hard. 

Keeping recovery squeaky clean.

I like to think of my recovery like that. Something that I need to protect that needs to stay as fresh and clean as possible (btw, I can’t get that Outkast song out of my head right now). If I don’t do everything in my power to make sure it stays shiny, the grime will spread. Everything I touch can be contaminated. 

I’ll back off of the metaphor now—you get the idea. So, when I think about ways to keep things fresh in my recovery, what can I do? How do I make sure to protect my recovery by adding some new things into the mix to keep it interesting? 

Here are a couple of ideas I’ve learned through trial and error to keep recovery sparkling.

Focus on the Whole Self. 

I’m not going to lie—sometimes when I hear the word “holistic” I cringe or I ask myself: “what does this really mean?” It’s always sounded to me like one of those “pie-in-the-sky” buzz words not grounded in reality. The truth is (I’ve read) that holistic means focusing on care for myself in a variety of ways and not just on my addiction recovery. Things like eating healthy, physical exercise, getting good sleep, all of the other things I learned about in gym class. Along with doing things like being creative or finding hobbies I enjoy. 

Focusing on the whole self isn’t just about physical health and hobbies, it can also be about emotional health. For me, seeing a therapist when I need to and having a close circle of sober friends has been so important. For my spiritual health, I make sure to check in with my faith community and also participate in small groups or community service opportunities or other ways to be involved when I can. 

When I focus on my whole self – physical, emotional and spiritual, I feel energized in my recovery.

Practice Gratitude.

Some days I feel pretty far away from active addiction and the woman I used to be. The woman digging in her jalopy of a car for quarters to buy a pack of cigarettes. The one praying I’d make it to my run-down apartment with almost zero gas left in the tank. The woman praying not to get evicted and let her parking tickets stack up until she lost her license. That woman who woke up in strange beds with strange people on holiday mornings (Easter 2001 was one of the most memorable). A woman who wanted to hide from the world, who wanted to disappear.

Even writing this list now, I am overcome with gratitude. Recovery has not only given me countless things to be grateful for. It has given me the opportunity to become a person who has values today and can be of service. I can show up in my own life – for my husband and children and all responsibilities that come with having a family. 

I’ve had several friends and mentors over the years talk to me about their own gratitude practice. Learning how to practice gratitude even when I don’t feel it, is something I had to work on. Keeping a gratitude journal is one of these action steps. I’ve also seen people commit to writing their gratitude lists (sometimes 3 things) on social media for their friends and family to see and to stay accountable. I love it when I see these and always try to show my support by liking them and commenting.

Switch it Up

If you are like me, having less opportunity for in-person recovery meetings has led to a new reliance on virtual recovery platforms. And THANK GOD for that! Perhaps you attend or have attended online meetings before (like with In the Rooms) or maybe it’s all been new to you. Whatever your experience, sometimes it keeps my recovery fresh to try some new things. The pandemic has certainly helped me up my virtual meetings! 

If your recovery is feeling a little stale why not try pushing yourself a little and –

  1. Set up regular calls or distance visits with a close friend in recovery
  2. Volunteer to speak at a meeting
  3. Try a different meeting format (like Celebrate Recovery, SMART recovery, or All Recovery Meetings).
  4. Organize a sober outdoor event like hiking, biking, a volleyball tournament or picnic.

Your recovery is what you make it. It is your priority and tending to it like you would any important project just might make all the difference to its quality. Keeping recovery squeaky clean and fresh makes it fun!



Caroline Beidler, MSW is an author, recovery advocate and founder of the storytelling platform Bright Story Shine. Her new book Downstairs Church: Finding Hope in the Grit of Addiction and Trauma Recovery is available anywhere you buy books. With almost 20 years in leadership within social work and ministry, she is a team writer for the Grit and Grace Project and blogger at the global recovery platform In the Rooms. Caroline lives in Tennessee with her husband and twins where she enjoys hiking in the mountains and building up her community’s local recovery ministry. Connect with her @carolinebeidler_official and

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