Even after long periods of abstaining from our addictions, staying sober can be a challenge, and there may be periods where it feels like a difficult struggle. However, the truth is that it does not have to be a daily hardship, or feel like more then you can bear.
With the right tools, and a deliberate efforts to create new coping mechanisms and greater awareness of your beliefs and behaviors, and remember to be patient with yourself and take things one day at a time, you will find the road to sobriety can become lighter. Here are some useful tools that have helped others walk along that road.
1) Mental awareness
Addiction means spending time on autopilot, not always aware of your emotions, thoughts, and actions. By practicing mindfulness you should learn how to listen to and honor your thoughts and actions.
When you know what's really going on inside of you, you start to realize that you have a choice in how you want to respond to life. Be particularly aware of HALT – when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, and therefore potentially more in need of self-care.
Journaling can be a helpful exercise in helping you get more in tune with your own internal thoughts and feelings.
In moment you may feel vulnerable to relapsing, or down on yourself, learn how to remind yourself of what's true. Speak into your mind, especially when it feels out of control.
Remind yourself of why you want to get sober, of what your life was like in the throws of an addiction, and why you don't want to go back, just say "no more." Remember that you have a choice, the ability to act "as if" you are recovered.
For some people, it helps to memorize a simple slogan like "don't pick up no matter what" or "it works if you work it," repeating it until a worried or stressful feeling leaves.
Addiction is about creating bad habits that are harmful to your body. Replace those by taking time to care for yourself, with regular exercise, taking time to enjoy healthy food, meditation, and enjoyable hobbies.
All these things can teach you to develop a new hopefulness and self-respect that can give you the strength to know you deserve sobriety. Simple habits like making your bed every day show that you are worth taking time on, and that you can expend effort on what makes you come alive and feel good about being on this earth.
4) Supportive relationships
At the same time, this isn't a road you're going to be able to walk alone. Your burden is going to be lighter if you feel that is shared with others going through similar experiences.
Whether going to regular meetings, meeting with a sponsor, or simply finding supportive friends to listen and encourage you, sharing your struggle and taking advice from others is a very important way to work out plans for dealing with the challenges, and feeling empowered to put those plans into practice.
5) Helping others too
Even though a healthy self-focus is important in learning how to take care of yourself, one of the best ways to heal yourself and feel like you can have a meaningful life is by helping others. Find something your good at and teach others, or give of your money or time to people in need.
You can even reach out to other people struggling with addiction, and offer mutual support and encouragement to them. These activities will help to give life meaning, and take your focus off your internal drama, by learning how to live with and for others.