This year, don’t aim for perfection with your New Year’s resolutions: strive for ongoing sobriety and all the steady, quiet progress that this entails. It’s not easy to make and stick to New Year’s resolutions for 365 days, especially when you’re also struggling against addiction and relapse. However, you can make your resolutions your secret weapons in the fight to stay sober. Here are some excellent resolutions for anyone working hard to keep sober.
Get professional guidance for staying sober
Talking to a trained professional about your addiction can offer you more insight than you may imagine. The same goes for support groups. You may believe you’ve heard it all before, but there’s always something to gain from others with experience staying sober.
Try something new
New experiences are the most fulfilling and long-lasting way to leave old habits behind and move forward. As you recover, you’ll also be eager to meet new people who lead positive lifestyles. As you try new activities that are healthier for you, you’ll meet people who can share stories and experience positive growth right along with you.
Treat any underlying problems
It’s hard enough staying sober when that’s your only problem; if you’re also suffering from depression, for example, it’s even harder. Talk to a counselor or therapist about your addiction, but also about any other coexisting problems you might have. Don’t go it alone.
Try keeping a journal
This can feel daunting at first, but give it a shot. You don’t need to write War and Peace every day. Just jot down a few thoughts each day at first. Keeping a journal is vital to tracking your own progress as you get and stay sober, and to building deeper insight into your own problems.
Attend a sober event with a friend
Attending sober events might feel strange at first, but they’re a fantastic way to help you stay sober. Bring a friend with you so you feel more comfortable, and as a source of more support.
Talk about your sobriety with friends and family
Don’t hide your plans and progress—or even your setbacks. Tell your friends and family about your plans to stay sober, and even about your resolutions. A little healthy peer pressure here and there can help you stay accountable and get you through tough times, and you’ll need their support.
Set yourself up for success, not failure
As an addict, there were plenty of sources of toxicity in your life: dangerous relationships, places that triggered you to use, and probably many other stressful situations. Set yourself up for success rather than failure by avoiding all of these sources of toxicity if at all possible. If that’s not possible, keep your closest, most supportive allies nearby as you face down these stressors.
Keep a positive outlook
This might sound like a throwaway resolution, but give it a shot. Once you start being too hard on yourself and cycling in negative thought patterns, you’re at greater risk of relapse. Instead, when you hear negative self-talk in your mind, stop right there and turn it around. Learn to focus on the positive instead, even if it’s a struggle at first.
Choose to volunteer for a cause that really matters to you. You’ll be feeling great about yourself and giving back to others—and all of that work and those healthy interactions all increase your chances of staying sober.
Exercise is healthy for just about anyone, but for people striving for sobriety, it can be a lifesaver. It improves your mood naturally, boosts your energy levels, increases your concentration levels, helps you sleep more soundly, keeps you healthier, and helps you manage your weight. You can hit the gym, go for a bike ride, join a dance class, go hiking, join a sports team, or even just walk or chase your kids around a playground.
It’s normal to feel skeptical, but meditation can be a powerful tool in your recovery and ongoing sobriety. It can allow you to clear your mind, withdraw from the frantic pace of everyday life, and permit each thought to pass by without judgment or anger. Once you get into the meditation habit, you’ll enjoy a lower your stress level and have a much easier time letting things go.
Identify a list of inspirational readings that you’d like to tackle. There’s no need to overwhelm yourself; just plan to read a new book every month or so—and more if you can or want to. Ask around for recommendations, and check at your local bookstore to find out which writers are inspiring people around you.
Come up with one additional new, positive lifestyle change and execute it
Whether you decide to drop toxic friends, start every day with a healthy breakfast, learn a new language, or take the dog for a walk every day, make a simple change that is positive, and betters your day and your life.
Good luck this year!
Remember, you already did the hardest work. You identified your addiction and took steps to get sober. Now you’re working to stay that way. Whichever resolutions you choose to pursue, write each one down, and add a little note about why you chose it—why did it matter to you? When things get tough mid-year, remind yourself with your list. Make this year your best yet, and good luck!
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.