Gratitude Isn’t Just for Thanksgiving: How Being Grateful Helps You Stay Sober
Thanksgiving may be all about showing gratitude for the blessings you’ve been given, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be grateful all year long. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can play a vital role in the recovery process.
Being Grateful for Sobriety
In Alcoholics Anonymous, serenity and gratitude are viewed as the two most important ingredients for success in the 12-Step program. Although everyone’s experience is different, some of the reasons to be grateful for your newfound sobriety include:
- Improved health as your body heals the damage from past substance abuse
- Strengthening relationships with loved ones
- Making new friends in the recovery community
- A chance to explore new hobbies or rekindle interests that were pushed aside when you were actively abusing drugs or alcohol
- A more stable financial situation, now that you’re not spending your hard-earned money on substance abuse
Discovering the Benefits of Gratitude
Researchers have long been fascinated by how expressions of gratitude can change a person’s life. A Psychology Today article outlines the following benefits of gratitude:
- Reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Eases stress
- Improves your physical health by reducing chronic pain and encouraging you to practice preventative care
- Promotes empathy for others
- Reduces aggressive behaviors
- Boosts your self-esteem and self-worth
- Builds resilience in the face of adversity
All of these benefits have the potential to contribute to lasting sobriety by addressing some of the underlying issues that may have contributed to the development of your substance use disorder.
Ways to Practice Gratitude in Your Daily Life
It’s easy to say that we should all be more grateful, but actually incorporating gratitude into your daily routine takes a bit of conscious effort. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Writing in a journal is often recommended as a way to express your emotions throughout the recovery process, but keeping a gratitude journal offers extra benefits. When you list one or two things you’re thankful for each day, whether it’s a hot cup of coffee enjoyed with friends or the beauty of fall’s colorful foliage, you remind yourself of all the reasons you have to be sober.
- Practice random acts of kindness. Pay for a stranger’s meal, help an elderly neighbor carry her groceries, or tell a new mom that she’s doing a great job with her little one. Small acts of kindness like these make the world a better place, which is something we can all be thankful for.
- Volunteer. Helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. Finding ways to help people in need, whether you’re collecting donations for a Thanksgiving canned food drive or sharing your story with someone who is thinking about seeking addiction treatment for themselves, boosts self-esteem while fostering feelings of gratitude.
- Tell friends and family what they mean to you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking your loved ones for granted, but everyone wants to feel needed and appreciated. Take the time to show your appreciation for the support and encouragement they’ve given you throughout your recovery journey. If you’re not comfortable expressing your thoughts face-to-face, write a letter.
- Consider a digital detox. Modern technology certainly has its benefits, but too much time on your phone or in front of the computer keeps you from developing meaningful relationships with others and distracts you from the blessings in your life. You don’t have to give up technology completely, but unplugging for a few days or making a commitment to being more mindful of your screen time can help you develop a more balanced perspective.
- Post reminders of gratitude in prominent locations. Look for gratitude quotes online, then post your favorite ones around your home to serve as daily reminders of the role a grateful heart plays in your recovery. If you’re feeling creative, turn quotes into inspirational artwork by adding colorful backgrounds and decorative lettering.
We’re Always Here to Help
At Waypoint Recovery Center’s South Carolina drug and alcohol addiction treatment program, we provide a full continuum of care for all our clients, including recovery management and alumni services designed to ease the transition back to independent living. We’re grateful that you’ve chosen our services to help you build a life free from the burdens of addiction, and we’re eager to provide the support you need to make the most of your newfound sobriety.