Content Reviewed by Jennifer Wheeler, Clinical & Community Outreach for New Life
Gratitude is the state of being grateful, thankful and appreciative of the things you consider valuable and meaningful in your life. It is a positive emotional reaction that helps bring attention to the good things you experience. Unfortunately, gratitude doesn’t always come easily. You might experience stress, trauma and other pressures that cloud your ability to practice gratitude. It takes time and practice for it to become a healthy habit.
Gratitude helps you stay present and grounded when you feel challenged by intrusive thoughts or painful life experiences. It becomes especially important for individuals working to achieve and sustain sobriety during a recovery journey. Not only does practicing this habit motivate and encourage you to stay on track during your recovery, but it also aids in preventing relapse. There are many ways you can practice gratitude and make it a healthy habit as you continue your lifelong recovery journey.
The Connection Between Gratitude and Well-Being in Addiction Recovery
There is an undeniable link between gratitude and positive well-being. Gratitude helps you focus on the positive things you have and experience in life, which can be especially beneficial during times of stress. Challenging intrusive or otherwise distressing thoughts by replacing such thoughts with more optimistic ones can be helpful. Similarly, doing so can encourage you to stay grounded and accept the circumstances that life throws your way, even if that means coming to terms with a harsh reality.
In other words, gratitude can reduce a multitude of toxic emotions, whether it be resentment, anger, frustration or regret. With that being said, it is no surprise that gratitude can improve your relationships as well as your overall quality of life.
Why Is Gratitude Important for Recovery?
Gratitude is valuable for recovery because the journey to achieve and maintain abstinence is filled with an abundance of challenges. Gratitude can help minimize the intensity or severity of some challenges by shedding light on specific people, factors and circumstances that are working in your favor. Similarly, this practice can improve self-confidence and resilience. Overall, gratitude motivates you to stay committed to your recovery journey because it helps you recognize that becoming and staying sober is the best way to show appreciation for their entire being.
3 Ways to Practice Gratitude in Addiction Recovery
Practicing gratitude does not have to be a strenuous activity. It can be as simple as dedicating time to ruminate on the things that you are grateful for. Here are three ways that you can practice gratitude in recovery:
#1. Take Time to Reflect
One of the simplest, yet most effective, ways to practice gratitude in recovery is by setting aside time to reflect on the things, people and experiences that you are grateful for. While this may seem like an obvious way to practice gratitude, many people do not set aside time to reflect, as most people live incredibly fast-paced and busy lives.
Consider the following prompts to help encourage your gratitude reflection:
- Who are you grateful for and why?
- What are you grateful for and why?
- What experiences are you grateful for that have made you who you are today?
- When do you feel the most at peace with your life?
- What people have helped you during your recovery journey?
- What circumstances are you grateful for that led you to recovery?
#2. Sharing Positive Words
Another simple and easy way to practice gratitude in recovery is by sharing positive feelings toward others. Consider writing a letter, making a phone call or scheduling a meet-up with someone you feel gratitude toward. Think about someone you may have never properly thanked, such as a mentor or sponsor or someone you have not seen in a while. Speak or write to this person about how much they have made an impact on your life for the better. As much as this benefits your own well-being, complimenting someone else can have a profound effect on them as well.
Positively affirming someone does not have to be a planned activity. Throughout your treatment experience and recovery journey, make a conscious effort to be thankful for the peers, staff members and other individuals you cross paths with.
#3. Just Be
Gratitude goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness. Practicing gratitude can be as simple as allowing yourself to be fully present and engaged with the present moment. Take time to step away from your busy life and recovery journey and simply sit with yourself. Immerse yourself in nature, pet puppies at a local shelter or engage in local volunteer opportunities. Regardless of what you choose to do, do so mindfully. Think about how your recovery experience is impacting your life and consider how you are impacting the lives of those around you. You don’t need to do something; just be.
While gratitude is a valuable daily practice for anyone, it is even more valuable for individuals in recovery. Gratitude is the state of being thankful and appreciative for people and experiences that have made an impact on your life. Gratitude is essential during recovery because it challenges intrusive thoughts, improves self-esteem and enhances your quality of life. You can practice gratitude in recovery through reflection, verbal affirmations and mindfulness. New Life Addiction Counseling and Mental Health Services emphasizes gratitude to be a vital practice during treatment and recovery. We believe it is crucial to allow patients to reflect on positive experiences in their life to help replace and overcome stress and other difficult emotions. We offer several therapeutic treatment modalities that help you develop gratitude skills to assist you during your lifelong recovery journey. To learn more, call (877) 929-2571.