Staying Present is a Present You Can Give Yourself in Recovery
December 3, 2022
The holiday season is fast approaching, and that means many of us will be thinking about gifts—what we want to give to others and what we might like others to give to us. But if you are a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, one of the best things you can do during the holidays is give yourself the gift of approaching each day mindfully. In other words, you should give yourself the present of staying present. By doing so, you will be protecting your sobriety during what can be a challenging time of year.
Why You Should Lessen Your Tendency to Ruminate and Worry
You have probably had one of those nights when it seems like you will never get to sleep. You are tired, to be sure, but your mind is racing. And where is it racing to?
Generally, the mind has two destinations in a situation like this: the past and the future.
All too often, our brains like to take a trip down memory lane, but it seems like we never get to revisit the highlights—the successes, the moments of happiness, the kindnesses we have done for others and others have done for us. Instead, the mind serves up a sequence of failures, embarrassments, and missed opportunities. When we ruminate on the past, we often stir up difficult emotions.
The same is true when our mind runs off in the other direction toward the future. You might find yourself worrying about any number of things—many of which you likely have no control over or can’t address right this moment. Will the big project turn out right? Will the car repair be excessively expensive? Will we or our parent or child or spouse or friend overcome whatever challenge currently being confronted? When we worry about the future, we often find ourselves feeling anxious.
It perhaps goes without saying that rumination and worry can create problems far beyond the occasional sleepless night. These tendencies of mind can—and often do—disrupt our well-being at any time of day.
Difficult emotions and feelings of anxiety can undermine your recovery as well as your overall mental health, which is deeply intertwined with ongoing sobriety. And all of these challenging states of mind can be even more challenging during the holidays—a time of year that certainly is not joyous for everyone. It can be tempting to try to drive away negative feelings and stress by turning to drugs or alcohol.
That, of course, is not a good solution. Mindfulness practice offers an alternative.
Keep Mindfulness in Mind to Support Your Sobriety
So, what is mindfulness? You might think of it as both a practice and an approach to daily life.
Mindfulness practice encourages us to stay present in the current moment. The practice of mindfulness often involves sitting comfortably with the eyes closed and focusing on the natural rhythm of your breathing. Thoughts and feelings can—and will—come and go, but when they do, the idea is to gently return your focus to your breath.
As you get more comfortable with mindfulness practice, you will likely start to see the benefits in day-to-day life. You might remind yourself to take a deep breath to settle yourself before a meeting so that you are better able to focus on the conversation whether than worrying about all the other things you feel you should be doing. You might find that you are less inclined to doomscroll and more inclined to really engage with others in real life rather than on social media. You might discover that you feel less anxious and better able to cope when you stay focused on the current moment.
All of those outcomes can work together to support your recovery and your sobriety.
So, as you make your gift-giving list (and check it twice, naturally), don’t forget to include the gift of mindfulness for yourself. There are many resources available to help you get started. You may well find that this gift to yourself becomes the foundation of a New Year’s resolution to be more present, more of the time.
Your Sobriety Is a Gift Your Give Yourself and Others
The impacts of a substance use disorder extend beyond the individual struggling with drugs or alcohol. Whole families, coworker cohorts, and circles of friends can feel the effects. So when you give yourself the gift of regained sobriety, that gift improves the lives of many of the important people in your life as well.
At Farley Center in Williamsburg, Virginia, we have the expertise, experience, and compassion necessary to help you get—and stay—sober. When you are ready to give that gift to yourself, we are ready to empower you to make changes in your life.