3 Steps to Protect Your Recovery Year Round

3 Steps to Protect Your Recovery Year Round | TheSunnyShadow.com >> Read Blog Post!The holidays are a high-risk time for those of us in recovery. They have a way of amplifying everything. There’s more noise. More people are out and about. Traffic increases. And an obvious, high energy is present!

Then there’s the stress of it all. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and others. There are deadlines. And we sometimes force ourselves into uncomfortable situations with people who we’d rather not spend our time with.

It’s a lot for anyone to handle. But for those of us in recovery, it’s crucial that we practice self-awareness and take preventive measures. The consequences of not doing so can quickly erase all the hard work we’ve put into our recovery thus far.

3 Steps to Protect Your Recovery Year Round

1. Let go of all expectations. 2. Get centered. 3. Make a plan.

1. Expectations

Without even realizing it, we often set unrealistic and high expectations for ourselves and others. With these expectations impossible to reach, we set ourselves up for disappointment. So when “the big day” comes, we’re irritable and likely to point the finger outward because nobody’s acting “right” or doing what they’re “supposed to.” The thing is, they’re not even aware of their leading role in our delusional play. So we just look like assholes.

At this point, we’ll naturally look for ways to cope. And if we don’t prepare or plan, those of us with impulse-control issues and/or addictions can get into trouble. For example, someone with bipolar disorder who is in a manic or mixed state runs the risk of turning to high-risk behaviors {e.g. spending, promiscuity, self-injury, gambling, alcohol and/or drug use}. And someone with alcohol or drug dependency is at a greater risk for relapse.

Let Go – Look at the Big Picture – Do Regular Self-Checks

Let go. This may be easier said than done, but it CAN be done. Try to step back on a regular basis to look at the big picture. Sometimes our perspective gets skewed when we stay hunched over and absorbed in the details. Regularly check-in with yourself. When you find yourself getting irritable or frustrated with someone, take a few minutes to look within first before automatically assuming it’s the other person’s fault. Make sure your expectations are reasonable, both for yourself and others.

2. Get Centered – Again and Again

Have you ever found yourself matching someone else’s energy? It’s all too easy to get caught-up in the holiday jeer. Before you know it, you’ve completely gotten away from who you are — or who you want to be. Now lacking authenticity, you’ve allowed someone to pull you so far away from your center that you’re having a difficult time even recognizing yourself. Next thing you know, emotions are flying high and you’re on edge.

What helps me?

  • In the moment: I use deep breathing. If possible, I take a time-out. I go somewhere more private to collect my thoughts, like a restroom or outside. I quietly ask myself if my behavior is inline with who I want to be. If I’m stopping to ask myself this question, the answer is probably no. But this has a way of centering me, of reminding me who I am and how I want to carry myself. It helps me regain my sense of self, and thus, a sense of control. H.A.L.T. is a quick and easy centering tool you can carry-out anywhere. Ask yourself the following: Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Even if I’m unable to address the issue in the moment, just becoming aware of it provides me with a little relief. And again, a small sense of control.
  • Alone Time: I cherish alone time. It gives me time for more thorough centering activities. I meditate, journal, practice gratitude, and read daily meditation readings that ground and center me.
  • Practice Mindfulness: I make an effort to be more mindful in my everyday life. Mindfulness is non-judgmentally focusing on the present moment only. This keeps me from worrying too much about the future and it stops me from dwelling on events from the past. I focus on what’s in front of me in the moment. Learn more about mindfulness: Add Mindfulness to Your Daily Routine.

3. Make a Plan

No matter what we’re in recovery from, we all need a plan. And one of the most basic parts of this plan should be to always leave ourselves a way out. As a recovering an alcoholic, when I go to an event where alcohol is present, I try to plan for the “what-ifs.” Despite a person’s length of time in recovery, we all have triggers and are capable of developing cravings or urges. We need to know what we’re going to do “if,” and how we’re going to do it. Details can only help.

Become aware of your red flags by practicing self-awareness. 

My daughter is currently struggling with social anxiety. But we haven’t visited my family in a long time. However, with social anxiety it’s good to push yourself into uncomfortable situations in small doses. So we’re going, but with a plan. I’ve already told my family that we’re only staying for a little bit. I’ve told my daughter that we can leave at anytime and that she is not trapped. I’m hoping that eases her mind a little. We also have a code word that she can whisper to me if she begins feeling too anxious and needs to leave.

What type of plans have you put in place? And what helps you get centered? Do you have any helpful tips for protecting your hard-earned recovery?



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