Drugs and alcohol create significant changes in the structure and function of the brain. That’s why, no matter how much you want to stop using these substances, it’s hard to do. There’s a lot of work to push through, a lot of heartache to battle, and a lot of temptation to give in to cravings. How can anyone succeed, if recovery is really so hard?
Success in recovery depends on many factors: the support system available, environmental factors, stress levels, and more. Perhaps at the heart of successful recovery is self-motivation. When the hard days hit, being able to keep yourself motivated is a critical step in achieving your goals. What are some ways to stay motivated when there’s so much in the world that can bring you down?
Here are 5 Tips to Stay Motivated Through the Hard Days:
#1: Define the Why
Addiction recovery is a path that could save your life. Yet when cravings hit or when life gets hard, this may not seem like “enough” of a reason to keep going. That’s why it can be helpful to take some time to reflect about why you chose to enter recovery.
Be specific and get down to the heart of it:
- Do you want to see your kids grow up?
- Are you tired of feeling bad all of the time and know you deserve more?
- Do you want to show yourself you can do it?
- What do you want to do with your life that will require your full commitment?
- Where do you want to be in 5 years?
You need (and deserve) this win for yourself. By taking the time to write out your recovery motivations and goals, you’ll be able to get through the hard days. Do this as often as you need to. It will be interesting to see what stays the same and what changes over time.
#2: Focus on What You are Grateful For
It may seem like a hard process to do right now, but when you focus on what you’re grateful for instead of what you’re overwhelmed with, your heart changes. Your mind clears. You feel a sense of relief. This is a skill you’ll use through all of the stress you face throughout your life, not just addiction recovery.
Harvard University shares that when you focus on gratitude, you’re more likely to be happy. It can help you with overcoming adversity, but it also helps you to build good experiences and feel more positive, powerful emotions.
Write down a list now of what you’re grateful for, no matter how hard it is. Think about the simple things, like your family or friends. Name them. Write down things that bring you joy, such as watching the sunset, having a good day at work, or laughing through a good movie. What are you grateful for right now?
#3: Create a Routine
Having a routine is one of the best ways to consistently stay motivated. As simple a concept as it is, a daily routine can create a profound difference in your ability to stay strong on the path of addiction recovery.
When you have a routine, you know what to expect. This eases any anxiety you might feel about what the day might hold or how you’ll get through all of the tasks required. Routines are also comforting. When you have a schedule, such as eating at the same time, taking a walk after dinner, or getting up at the same time each day, life starts to feel a little more settled and manageable.
With a routine, you’re also better able to work toward small goals. You’re less likely to get sidetracked by tasks or hobbies that eat into your day; you’re less likely to grow bored; you’re less likely to get overwhelmed. Creating a steady routine takes a bit of time and practice, but it’s a powerful tool against adversity.
#4: Know When to Turn to Your Network
It often feels like staying motivated is something everyone else thinks you should just be able to do without concern or struggle. Yet, the reality is that it’s downright hard to keep yourself motivated through difficult days. That’s why you need to have a support network and know when to reach out for help.
Your network should include the following:
- Someone close to you whom you trust fully
- A local mentor who is willing to answer the phone when you call
- A local recovery group you can visit on a frequent basis when times get tough
- A friend or two you can do fun (and sober!) things with you when you need a mental health break
- Your therapist and counseling team
How do you know when you need support? When you start to feel overwhelmed by life, whether it’s work, relationships, emotions, or some other trigger, call someone. If stress, anxiety, or sadness becomes consistent, turn to your therapist or treatment team for professional guidance.
#5: Find a Way to Give Back
Giving back can be a powerful way to stay on the path of addiction recovery while doing something really wholesome for yourself. When you volunteer or give back to others, you’re helping both them and yourself.
Often, motivation flags when you stop seeing the worth of the work you’re trying to do. It may be because you don’t feel valued or that anything you do matters to anyone else. When you embrace volunteering, you’re helping others and supporting the underlying need most people have to feel like they matter.