Each new year marks a new beginning, especially for those in recovery. Regardless of where one is in their journey to sobriety, using this time of year to shape one's goals and make changes in one's life is an instrumental part of the transformation. Harnessing this time and learning to best utilize resolutions can set an individual up for a successful year ahead. However, that does not mean the year will be without difficulty.
Balancing one's expectations and needs with continued recovery efforts is a core part of the transformative process.
Addiction Is an Ongoing Battle
For those just beginning their journey to sobriety, withdrawal symptoms, invasive thoughts, urges, cravings, and much more can all dictate one's everyday life. However, while withdrawal symptoms may be a temporary part of one's journey, there will still be consistent struggles maintaining one's sobriety even after months or years into one's newfound sober life.
Addiction is a disease that has no “cure.” An individual may continue to face cravings, urges, and anxieties around addictive substances well after they have maintained healthy abstinence from addictive substances. One's New Year's resolutions may change from year to year as one gains new perspectives, insights, and sets new goals. Therefore, using the opportunity to plan for the year ahead can always be a guiding tool for one's sobriety year after year.
Creating a Plan for the Year Ahead
Forming a plan around each new year can provide the necessary structure for the trials ahead, helping each individual balance their needs and goals while setting reasonable expectations for themselves. Creating a New Year's resolution can be a testament to one's introspective skills. These skills include recognizing where one is in their recovery journey which prompts them to think about the person they want to be and the goals they could reasonably accomplish within a year.
Limiting one's goals to this timeframe can help prevent those just beginning their recovery journey from becoming overwhelmed with unrealistic expectations. This helps them focus on specific life skills in individual and group therapy while guiding day-to-day routines.
Preparing Yourself for Change
Setting up new plans for each new year is a great way to embrace change in one's life, regardless of what form this change may take. However, while setting goals for personal and professional growth are instrumental in creating an effective plan for the next year, it is equally important to plan one's self-care strategies and mental health needs, as well.
Furthermore, it is important to take time to change these personal practices. This can help ensure that each person is balancing their lives in a healthy manner while coping with the stresses of addiction recovery. It also can help an individual justify their need to get a full night's rest or take planned personal time off.
Find a New Emotional Outlet
One's time in recovery can be filled with a deluge of various coping strategies. While not all strategies will be equally effective for each individual, having as many options as possible to process the difficult emotional turmoil of recovery is essential for finding the right practices.
Dedicating oneself each year to finding one new, truly effective hobby or outlet can grow one's recovery toolkit and coping strategies over time. Joining a new social group or trying new sports, art forms, or hobbies can all be incredibly beneficial to those in recovery. Continuing to focus and build these outlets can compound to a comprehensive, effective toolkit unique to each individual.
Focus On the Day-to-Day
Setting grand goals for one's recovery can help guide an individual, but setting goals for one's daily routine can help structure one's feelings and life on a more intimate level. Dedicating oneself to a new routine through the use of a consistent sleep schedule or self-care practices in the morning can all be beneficial in creating a new perspective on one's daily life. Focusing on daily routines in the new year can help an individual be more mindful of their day-to-day feelings, changes, struggles, and successes.
Commit to Continued Care
Each year brings new changes, and being able to commit oneself to continued recovery is a poignant notion. However, one's time in recovery can feel very fluid, with some days or times of year being more difficult than others. Committing oneself to their continued sobriety means dedicating enough time to truly explore the year-round stresses of their continued sobriety.
Attending AA, 12-Step, or other outpatient therapy sessions consistently throughout the next year can help an individual face the unique stresses that each season may present. It can also continue to provide context for setting new goals for the year.