Gratitude can manifest in a number of different ways. It can be a spontaneous feeling and it can also be a physical practice. It is the act of recognizing and appreciating what a person has separate from monetary value. Both expressing and experiencing gratitude can have a positive impact on relationships and generate feelings of happiness. While gratitude can be organically felt in any number of situations, studies show that people who dedicate time to reflecting on what they are grateful for experience a number of health benefits.
Practicing gratitude can have a number of physical and mental health benefits. Studies show that it can:
- Shift attention away from negative thoughts and feelings
- Reduce reflection on negative thoughts and experiences
- Reduce stress
- Improve the immune system
- Strengthen relationships
- Improve sleep
- Reduce the likelihood of mental health problems developing
- Improve self-care practices
Practicing Gratitude in Recovery
Part of the addiction recovery process is helping a person establish a healthy mindset that supports sobriety moving forward. It is easy to adopt a negative attitude that can perpetuate addiction. Feelings of separation, isolation, or resentment can propel addiction. These thoughts allow addiction to thrive as they provide a sense of justification. Changing this mindset is crucial to the recovery process.
Gratitude is a healthy way to address these negative thoughts and create a more positive outlook. Much like everything in life, developing gratitude is a process and will not happen overnight. Getting out of the habit of focusing on the negative takes time, but continued practice can help change perspective, allowing for positive personal growth and improvements in relationships with others.
Some ways to promote gratitude include:
- Appreciate the little things: It can be easy to become consumed by thoughts of frustrations and annoyances. Rather than focusing on negative things, take time to reflect on the little things that make you feel good. Little moments like having a good conversation with a loved one, being in nature, or being able to enjoy your favorite food are things we often take for granted. Learning to appreciate these moments can help you refocus your energy away from negative thoughts and be grateful for the little things.
- Do not compare yourself to others: Everyone is on their own journey in recovery. While you may be tempted to compare your own journey to others, your experiences are your own. Focus on your recovery and learn to appreciate your own growth and milestones. Every day in sobriety is an opportunity to continue learning and growing. Having the opportunity to continue your journey in recovery is something to be grateful for as it can be too easy to slip back into behaviors and thought patterns that invite a relapse. While it may be tempting to focus on perceived shortcomings and “what ifs”, taking the time to appreciate all you have achieved will be beneficial to your overall journey.
- Write down what you are grateful for: One way to proactively focus your attention on the positives is to practice journaling. Taking time every day to write down what you are grateful for can give you the opportunity to reflect on the good things. This can help you develop a new frame of mind in which you focus more on the positives throughout the day rather than the negatives. Journaling gratitude can also help you when you are facing troubling times. After a bad day, it can be a source of comfort to reflect on all of the good things you experience in life.
- Reflect on your accomplishments: Setting goals is part of the recovery process. While they may sometimes feel daunting, taking time to reflect on how far you have come can make them feel more achievable. There will always be something new to work towards, but that does not mean you cannot take time to reflect on everything you have already overcome. Entering treatment, getting sober, and making changes to support a healthy lifestyle requires a great deal of work and commitment. Appreciate your journey and what you have accomplished to get this far.
- Give back to others: Gratitude can be felt when giving back to others. The sober community is a vital component of treatment and building relationships within it can be beneficial for recovery. The opportunity to help others in their journey can be incredibly fulfilling. Not only does it help remove barriers and improve recovery outcomes for others, but it can also be a great reminder of how far you have come as well. Helping others in their journey can help you appreciate your own recovery, your life, and the lives of others. Not only does it make you more grateful for your own journey, but it can also be a source of gratitude for others as well.
Here at Nexus Recovery Services, we know that the holiday season can be difficult. Whether you’re trying to get sober for the first time or are coming back after a relapse, allow Nexus Recovery Services to help. Reach out and contact us today for more information.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.