Rewarding Yourself Regularly While In Recovery
Addiction recovery can often feel like starting over from scratch and transforming yourself as a person. It may seem disorienting to be constantly breaking old habits while forming better ones at the same time. There’s no doubt about it – this is hard work! It’s important to take it seriously, but there’s no need for a grim attitude. In fact, rewarding yourself for your incredible strides toward sobriety is one of the best things you can do to stay on track.
Observing Overall Progress
Human beings in general tend to focus on what we lack instead of what we have. In recovery, it’s easy to see how much we have left to go rather than how far we’ve come. One of your greatest allies will be the reversal of this tendency.
Start by reflecting on where you were about a year ago. Have you made a commitment to yourself to continue attending therapy? Were there any destructive behaviors or relationships that you’ve started to drift away from? Are there ways that you now care for yourself more compassionately? All of these are incredible successes that will support you in your ongoing efforts to recover.
Keep in mind that life is a constant learning and healing process, so you will probably never feel that you have totally “arrived” at any “final destination”. Instead, remind yourself that you are whole despite any painful struggles you’re going through. Focus on how far you’ve come, and you will start to feel exponentially more confident in your abilities.
Noting Daily Accomplishments
A simple yet profoundly helpful practice for tracking your improvements is writing them down frequently. Recovery happens one day at a time, so listing three to five achievements at the end of each day can reinforce a positive mindset as you keep moving forward.
Get yourself a fun pad of paper and some pens, set aside fifteen minutes before bed, and log the things about your day that made you feel grounded. Did you eat a healthy lunch and dinner? Have you called a friend when you were feeling upset or confused? Did you go to a meeting? What about repeating an uplifting affirmation to yourself to decrease stress? There are countless examples of the little steps we take on the path to recovery. Notice which ones you’re incorporating in your daily life, and give yourself some well-earned recognition.
Integrating Periodic Rewards
Because recovery is inherently emotional and challenging, there are things about it that will feel arduous, frustrating, and even insurmountable. Perhaps you are struggling to maintain boundaries with someone who is still working on their own addiction issues. Maybe you haven’t yet found the best support group, and you feel like giving up on that altogether. Even the formation of a new routine for channeling your passionate energy – like exercising or making art – can take several weeks to fully establish.
When you reach a periodic goal, like attending recovery meetings for four weeks in a row or going three months without a drink, reward yourself! Think of something that feels unique but not extravagant. Take yourself out to dinner with a friend. Get a massage or buy yourself a new outfit. Stay in bed for an entire afternoon and have yourself a movie marathon. Whatever it is, be sure to really indulge in the encouragement you are giving yourself. These intermittent rewards can break up the lengthy and difficult journey of recovery into digestible, enjoyable chunks.
Celebrating Major Milestones
Many people choose to commemorate their anniversary of sobriety – one year, five years, fifteen years – with something truly special. After all, these major milestones encapsulate your dedication to yourself, your health, your relationships, and your blossoming potential in life. Consider throwing yourself a sober banquet with friends and family, taking a fantastical trip like a cruise in 2022, or creating something beautiful like a mural or a sculpture that represents your recovery. These rewards will provide you with a sense of well-being and self-assurance after so much concentration. It’s time to let go and be free.
No matter where you are along your path to recovery, honoring yourself and your accomplishments on a regular basis is essential. Thankfully, perfection doesn’t exist, so you need only strive for progression. In the end, it’s all worth it.