Early sobriety is a beautiful thing. The gifts of desperation and willingness propel us in the right direction – we are driven to action by the distinct memory of our final days. We vividly remember the physical pain and the mental agony of those last few weeks drinking and drugging. The loneliness, the fear, and the incomprehensible demoralization. We never want to go back to that. And so we trudge forward with grateful smiles wiped wet on our still-swollen faces. We do whatever it takes – whatever they tell us. We want to get well.
The ‘Next Right Thing’ – Maintaining Sobriety
And then we get well, and we start making friends, and we start making money, and we start making amends and our lives get really good. Things fall into place rapidly so long as we keep doing ‘the next right thing’. Slowly by slowly, we build entirely new lives – and these extraordinary lives consume the majority of our time. Work and friends and dating and family begin to take precedent, and soon, without even realizing what has happened, we find that our ‘program’ has taken the backseat. We initially chose recovery because we wanted a fair shot at life – at living – and our prayers have been answered ten-fold. It is important to remember, however, that we are still alcoholic. In order to maintain that coveted sense of serenity and contentedness we have worked so hard to achieve, we must develop a daily practice that keeps us present and grounded.
We have compiled a helpful list of 5 daily practices, all geared towards bolstering your sobriety and strengthening your recovery. Take a look – and please feel free to contribute your own!
Strengthen Your Sobriety
- Meditate for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night.
Can’t find time for meditation? Come on, now. Set your alarm clock to 7:00 rather than 7:15 and get to bed 10 minutes earlier! Daily meditation does not necessarily require 2 hours of silently sitting in the lotus position on top of a mountain. In fact, morning meditation can be as easy and painless as reading the Daily Reflection and pondering how it may apply to your current circumstances. Use a guided meditation at night to help you unwind and clear your head of all the day’s clamor. (I usually find guided meditations on YouTube, though there are numerous other free platforms – finding a good one simply takes a little research.) 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night may not seem like a lot, but it will make a major impact on your mood throughout the day – just watch! And in time you may find that you have an extra 30 minutes to meditate each morning.
- Smile at strangers.
Not only does smiling at strangers help boost your own mood, but unwarranted smiles tend to instigate the ripple effect. Smiling at strangers is a proven way to enhance your day. Studies have shown that smiling at all those you come into contact with will ultimately help you to stay in the present moment, while building self-esteem and self-confidence. How? When you receive a genuine smile from a passerby, you automatically feel better about yourself. Someone is acknowledging your humanity! Pass along the favor, and give a quick grin to everyone you meet.
- Buy a planner and make a daily outline.
Writing down your main goals for the day is a proven way to help you achieve them. Utilizing a daily planner will help to keep you organized and prevent you from getting overwhelmed. You may wake up in the morning feeling as if you have a million treacherous tasks to accomplish – only to find (upon writing them down) that you need to do a mere load of laundry and pay your phone bill. Manageable. Make a short list of things you need to accomplish (making sure they are realistic) and get them done! This will simultaneously help to build self-esteem. There is nothing like looking at a row of check-marks after a long and productive day.
- Write down your daily intentions upon waking.
What are your intentions for the day? Make jotting them down a part of your morning routine and you will likely find that you move throughout your day with more purpose and confidence. How are intentions different than goals? An intention is defined as an aim or plan – and as the process of healing a wound. “Live in the present moment” would be an excellent intention, as would “treat others with kindness and compassion”. Intention is the first step in obtaining personal dreams – everything good that manifests in your life begins with a simple intention. Get a small journal or notepad to keep in your nightstand, and see how your intentions change (and manifest) over time.
Writing about your day, or even just freely writing for 15 minutes before bed, can help you successfully process through all of your present stresses and emotions. Writing is immensely therapeutic, and stream-of-consciousness writing might give you insight into your own thoughts and feelings that you would not have had otherwise. Take time to jot down any ideas, revelations, issues, or concerns you may have. If you’re angry with someone, write them a letter. Review what you’ve written the next morning if you’d like – you will likely be surprised at how much a good night’s sleep can change!
Keep in mind that these are simply suggestions – take time to develop your own daily routine, one that works for you. And please don’t hesitate to share any additional suggestions you may have!