For people in recovery from addiction, there are several principles of recovery that can be used on a daily basis to strengthen your resolve and serve as reassurance when recovery is difficult to bear. These principles emphasize factors like support from others, self-respect, prioritizing physical and mental health and maintaining hope for a better future.
While these principles are intended for use for those in recovery, these principles can also be applied to difficult situations in anyone's life. Below, behavioral health therapist Melissa Sheekey, MA of Mirmont Treatment Center, part of Main Line Health, describes how the principles can apply to all of us at some point.
Admit what you have control over…
…and remember that it won't be everything. In fact, it's probably very little. "All that we can control are our actions and reactions to situations. We can't control what happens to us all the time," Sheekey reminds us.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't try to improve your circumstances or work to change the outcome of a situation, but it does mean accepting the things that happen to you or around you that you can't affect. Examples of this can be as simple as a change in the weather that affects your plans, or a friend needing to cancel plans.
Believe in a power greater than yourself
One of the tenets of recovery is a commitment to spirituality or a belief in a higher power that's bigger than yourself. When you're feeling scared or frustrated or in times of gratitude and positivity, turn your feelings over to this power. When you're feeling scared or frustrated or in times of gratitude and positivity, turn your feelings over to this power. This can mean participating in a formal meditation or even just spending time in nature with the knowledge that a higher power was involved in the creation of a beautiful environment.
Inventory your emotions and find an outlet for sharing them
When was the last time you did a self-check of your mental health? Once or twice a day, stop what you're doing and close your eyes. Use this time to check in on how you're feeling: happy? Sad? Frustrated? Tired? Lonely? Take note of physical cues, too, like whether your jaw is clenched, if you have a headache or other common signs of stress.
No matter what you discover during this self-check, look for a way to share them. If you had a good day or hit an exciting personal or career milestone, share it with a friend or at the dinner table with family. If, on the other hand, your self-check turned up some difficult emotions, find an outlet for that, too.
"You should have a support system and coping skills in place for if you have a bad day or are dealing with emotions that just feel like 'too much' for you," says Sheekey. "This could be a friend, family member or formal support from a church group, or just someone you know who you can call and vent to .Examples of coping skills could be journaling, listening to music or going for a walk. Take advantage of these methods to find support and comfort."
It can be difficult to remember to be thankful, especially if you're going through a hard time. Practicing gratitude is an important part of recovery, but anyone can use it as a practice to 'look on the bright side' of a bad situation. There's no right way to practice gratitude, but you might consider keeping a journal, writing a list on your phone that you can reference at any time or even using it as a family exercise to discuss what each person is grateful for that day. Whatever works for you!
Look to the future
Remember: The way things are now are not how they will always be. That's the case for good days and bad days. But when you're feeling particularly discouraged or upset, look toward the future. Hope is a key tenet of recovery, and on days when it feels difficult to look beyond a situation or encounter, remember to hope for better days ahead and take active steps to reach them.