One day at a time is a common motto in recovery. It’s a well-intentioned idea to stay in the present moment. For someone new in recovery a day might feel like an eternity. It’s 24 hours, 1440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds to keep your mind and hands busy. That’s a lot of seconds of busy. Here are some suggestions to keep busy in early recovery.
- Read. Sometimes in early recovery your thoughts are centered on wanting to drink or do drugs. Reading can be a great way to quiet your brain and give it something else to focus on. You might want to read the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the text that introduced the 12 steps. You may love historical fiction. You may want to check out Oprah’s summer reading list. Whether it’s a murder mystery or Harry Potter, when you are immersed in a story you aren’t thinking about getting high.
- Exercise. In early recovery you may not feel like exercising. You might be tired, shaky, and wanting to hide at home. Moving your body and sweating is a great way to change your thoughts. It can be a walk around the block. It can be going to a playground and swinging on the swings for a little quad workout. It could be doing some push-ups, sit-ups, and squats in your room. If you like group exercise a yoga class can be a great way to calm body, mind, and spirit. Pause and ask your body what it needs. Then listen and get moving.
- Write. When your thoughts are racing putting pen to paper can slow things down. You can simply do a stream of consciousness writing just writing every thought that comes into your head. It might just feel like rambling at first, but keep going as it can be cathartic. Another approach when feeling anxious is to fold a piece of paper in half vertically. On the left side make a list of all the things you are worried about or all the fears you have. Once you get them all down, go back and for each worry or fear on the left create an affirmation or positive statement on the right. Here is a short example.
|Worries and Fears||Affirmations|
|I have fear I can’t stay sober.||I can stay sober one minute at a time.|
|I have fear I’ll be homeless.||If I stay sober, my higher power will take care of me.|
|I have fear my relationship is over.||My job is to focus on my recovery. I trust everything else will work out if I put my recovery first.|
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