The holiday season is a great time to practice gratitude. There’s even an entire Thursday in November devoted to giving thanks.
That’s great news for those in recovery. Even though stress associated with the holidays carries an increased risk of relapse, the practice of gratitude has long been associated with positive recovery outcomes.
When we live in a state of gratitude, we understand that each day is a gift with abundant blessings. Practicing gratitude with intention can enhance both your recovery and your sense of joy this holiday season.
What is gratitude?
The word gratitude refers to the state of being thankful. When we feel thankful for the people or positive things in our lives, we’re making a conscious choice to view the world through the lens of appreciation. A grateful attitude does take some time to cultivate, it can significantly enhance the recovery journey.
What are the benefits of practicing gratitude in recovery?
Most of our behavioral choices stem from our general attitude toward life and other people. To achieve a healthy, long-term recovery, we need to develop a more grateful worldview and attitude, which helps us make positive choices.
In recovery, we learn how to get out of ourselves and to begin to think of others. The 12-step program guides us on this journey to a large extent, showing to us the value of humility and gratitude while on the path to a spiritual awakening.
6 ways to practice gratitude in recovery during the holiday season
Make the most of this holiday season and practice gratitude! Consider these ideas for cultivating a sense of gratitude in everyday life:
- Keep a gratitude journal: Put aside a few minutes to jot down the positive events that occurred during the day. This practice of reflecting on your day and identifying the blessings helps us keep a positive mindset and improves both physical and emotional well-being.
- Do random acts of kindness: Whether it is opening the door for a stranger, retrieving something off the ground that someone has dropped or helping a senior to load their groceries in the car, there are many opportunities to display a compassionate, grateful heart throughout the day.
- Find ways to be helpful: If you know your friend or neighbor is ill, why not ask them if you can run an errand, bring a meal or walk their dog for them? Be grateful for the people in your life and for the opportunities to help them when they are in need.
- Reflect on what you have: We all live busy, hectic lives, so it is hard sometimes to see all the blessings you have. Find a quiet moment to reflect on all the many blessings in your life. The roof over your head, the food in the pantry your healthy children — be genuinely grateful for all your gifts.
- Volunteer your time: Gratitude is a reciprocal experience. When you take time out of your busy schedule to volunteer at the local food pantry, animal shelter or soup kitchen, you begin the cycle of gratitude. The recipient feels thankful for your help, and you feel thankful for the chance to help.
- Send thoughtful holiday cards: As busy as the holidays can be, take a little extra time to express gratitude in your holiday cards to loved ones. Resist the urge to send your loved one a generic message with your name and nothing else. Get out your favorite writing utensil and write a short note about what they mean to you.
Practicing gratitude in recovery provides many unexpected rewards, especially during the holidays. Make this a special holiday season by putting these tips into action.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.