21 Sep Adapting to a New Lifestyle in Recovery
*Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
Everybody’s recovery experience is different, but one thing is almost certain – a pretty significant lifestyle change occurs when we get clean and sober. Not only are we no longer drinking and using, but over time, many of us find that the things we used to do, the jobs we used to work, and the friendships we kept are not sustainable. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but aspects of it have a tendency to be true for so many of us. Getting clean in and of itself can be overwhelming, so in early recovery, there’s never a need to force significant lifestyle changes. Often, however, our lives seem to naturally undergo these shifts because we’re no longer hanging around in places we used to, like the bar, at the club, or around old drinking pals. Sometimes our romantic partnerships or even marriages take a hit when we get clean. Also, if we work jobs where we’re surrounded by alcohol, drugs, or both (i.e., nightclub promoters, bartenders, etc.), then we may find ourselves struggling to remain in these environments. This doesn’t always happen (i.e., not everyone works jobs where they’re surrounded by temptation, obviously, and not everyone who does feels the need to leave), but it’s something that crops
If and when we do find ourselves faced with situations where we need to adjust our lives, just how do we adapt with ease to these lifestyle shifts? Unfortunately, it’s not always “with ease” that we adapt to anything in recovery, but that doesn’t mean we can’t adapt. The cool thing about recovery is that unless you’re attempting to stay clean without a recovery program (aka, “white-knuckling” it) then you likely have a crew of sober compadres who’ve been through similar lifestyle shifts. Or, perhaps they’re going through some changes now. Lean on these people. They’re your lifeline. Literally.
In addition to leaning on your fellows in recovery, there are some other things that can help. By the way, no one is telling you to quit your job today, walk away from your marriage, or make any significant changes to your life aside from getting clean. And in early recovery, all you really need to be focusing on is the day-at-a-time journey you’re on. Let everything else unfold as it’s naturally going to and in its own time. But, when life shifts do happen, here are some mental hacks we find useful when we start to notice ourselves going down a rabbit hole of disillusionment.
- Change your mindset and shift your perspective. Yep, *snap!*, just like that! Ok, we joke, we joke (about the “just like that” part). Sure, a shift in mindset can feel a little challenging, but if you can just focus on flipping the script a bit. Like, if you have a job that you feel you may need to move away from because it involves triggering situations, then remind yourself about all of the possibilities that lie ahead. Instead of viewing it as a potential loss of income, try coming at it from the angle that this can propel you into opportunities that are far greater than the situation you’re in. There’s a saying from an unknown source that “not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.” It’s easy to get stuck in situations that don’t contribute to our own self-growth. On the other hand, if we get to a place where our life or our recovery is completely dependent on a shift, then we’ll find ourselves with no choice but to change. In the end, this change can be fundamentally life-changing in the greatest way, but if something (i.e., recovery) didn’t give us a need to make the change, we might never have known the awesomeness that life had in store. Addicts tend to be pretty dynamic individuals capable of some amazing stuff when they get clean. You may very well find yourself totally unstoppable once you get past the initial stage of uncomfortability. Be patient, and trust that a life beyond your wildest dreams is right around the corner if you maintain a solid recovery program.
- Meditate. Meditation is the best way to quiet your mind without drugs or alcohol. And, at times, you might not actually be able to quiet your mind, but if you can learn to observe your thoughts without judgment, you’re well on your way to feeling better. In fact, it’s a great way to achieve what we just mentioned – a shift in mindset. Meditating is a great way to get present and into acceptance with what is, rather than how we think things should be or could be. It can also help to ease our fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown is a big trigger for many of us in recovery, and it’s something that impacts just about everyone. When we get clean and our lives are all topsy-turvy, it’s really easy to get into fear – fear about relationships ending, fearing a relapse, fear of financial insecurity, and the list goes on. Quieting the mind and getting present is a brilliant way to overcome all of this and it’s really just an awesome habit to get into. It will enhance your recovery tenfold.
- Recognize that it’s about the journey, not the destination. In a sense, this, once again, ties back into a mindset shift. When we get clean, as with anything in life, there’s never really one “place” to get to. If we constantly feel the need to chase a specific goal, destination, or relationship, then we miss out on life. And yes, we’re talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s all part of this brilliant journey that we’re on and every hurdle and roadblock we overcome builds character and changes the course of our lives. And each wonderful, feel-good, inspiring event can so easily pass us by if we’re not present for the journey and we’re constantly reaching for something “over there” wherever “over there” is. So, just relax and enjoy the ride. And know that whatever difficulty is thrown on your path, that it will pass.
- Be curious. Being curious means adopting a beginner’s mind and it’s a great way to turn your life into an adventure. Because that’s really what life is – one big adventure. Staying forever curious and teachable opens our minds and our hearts and allows us, yet again, to shift our perspective to one that’s more childlike. How many small children do you know that are legitimately stressed out? Probably not many. Kids fall down, scrape their knees, cry, and get back to do whatever it is they were doing all over again. Five minutes of tears, a couple of Band-Aids, and they’re back to laughing on the playground, catching frogs down by the creek, and climbing trees. Kids also tend to be very present, and we really can learn a lot from them. Reflect on the things that made you happy when you were little and try doing more of those things. This is a great way to get into curiosity mode.
- Face your fears. What scares you? Is it surfing? Heights? Being honest and vulnerable? Public speaking? Challenge yourself to face your fears regularly and watch what happens. Provided you’re not engaging in anything life-threatening (please don’t), we can pretty much guarantee that you’re not going to die. Remember, your feelings aren’t facts. Get to know those fears of yours, get close to them, and experience, firsthand, NOT dying. It’s a pretty cool exercise, and it’s also quite empowering. And, of course, it’s a great way to prepare yourself for the unknown, which is really the spice of life. There are absolutely zero guarantees in life except for the fact that one day, we’ll all leave this earth. So, why not embrace the unknown, face those fears, and live life to the fullest? We’ve only got one to live.
Adapting to a new lifestyle in recovery can feel scary, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably find that it’s the best deal around. Life gets fun when it gets new because that’s where the real magic is. And remember, you’re not alone on this recovery journey. Keep your fellows close and you’ll always have support as your life begins to evolve. Let them remind you as often as you need to be reminded that life can be really fun when we shift our perspective and start opening ourselves up to new things. Soak it up and embrace every ounce of it.
Kembali Recovery Center is Here to Help
If you or someone you love is struggling to get sober or to stay clean, Kembali Recovery Center is here to help. You never have to do this on your own. Reach out and contact us today and ask us about our four-week Residential Treatment Program and our Recovery Beyond Program.