How to Stay Positive in Recovery

One of the most important things to remember about addiction recovery is that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Enthusiasm and willpower will only get you so far. Staying as positive in recovery is crucial. Recovery is challenging on many fronts and having a positive attitude is a huge asset for persevering in the face of difficulties. We understand that it’s not easy to stay positive during your recovery and when you’re going through a period of change. 

Whether it’s a new job, a new relationship, or moving across the country, or becoming a parent, there’s an adjustment period you have to go through. The same is true when entering recovery. Keeping a positive attitude is important, and it will help you transition into your new lifestyle. Developing new ways of coping with negative situations and emotions is critical to successful sobriety.

We wish we could say it would always be smooth sailing, but we can’t lie to you. Bad things happen. Sometimes at the worst possible moment. Sometimes you face setbacks and feel like you’ll never be able to have a successful recovery. It’s these times when it’s especially important to find ways to stay positive. 


Here are some tips to stay positive in recovery and life when things seem hard. 

Keep track of the things you are grateful for.

Gratitude has been shown to have many benefits for mental and physical health. One reason for this is that practicing gratitude forces you to focus on what’s going well rather than what’s going badly. Keeping a gratitude journal. This technique is often used by those who practice mindfulness-based relapse prevention. Write down all of the positive things that happen every day. This can be something as major as getting a raise or as minor as having ice cream for dessert. Write down anything that brought you joy. It is also helpful to read past entries when you need an extra boost of positive energy! 

Stay present.

One of the most important things a recovering addict can learn how to do is to stay present; when you learn how to stay present, worries about the past and future don’t affect your path to full recovery as much. If you catch yourself dwelling on the negative, try to bring yourself back to the present moment. This can be achieved through a daily practice of mindfulness meditation. No recovering addict can ever benefit from getting stuck in the past, either for retrospect or nostalgia. Instead, stay present; worry about how you are handling the right here and the right now. When you’re a recovering addict, learn to forget about the past and “stay present.”

Spend your time with supportive people.

Who we spend most of our time with affects our beliefs, thoughts, and expectations for ourselves. Spending time with positive, supportive people has two significant benefits. First, their positive attitudes rub off on you. You don’t want to be the one complainer. You get used to seeing things the way they do. Second, since you can’t be positive all the time, their support can get you through times when you don’t feel so confident or optimistic.

One of the best ways to stay positive in recovery is to call up someone you know and trust as soon as you start to feel blue. Talking openly about your emotions and your experiences is truly the best defense against lingering sadness (and doing so is also a great defense against relapse).

Expect challenges and have a plan to deal with them.

Staying positive doesn’t mean you pretend nothing will ever be difficult and it certainly doesn’t mean ignoring problems. Instead, staying positive means recognizing challenges but also recognizing the possibility of a positive–or at least, acceptable–outcome. Having expectations that nothing will go wrong makes every challenge feel like a disaster. 

Genuine optimism is not the belief that nothing will go wrong but the belief that when something does inevitably go wrong, you will find the strength to deal with it.  Disappointment is an enemy of optimism. If you keep your expectations modest and realistic regarding yourself and those around you, you can avoid the kind of disappointments that tend to erode things like confidence and positive thinking.

When something goes wrong, try this! Ask yourself:

  • What is positive about this situation?
  • Is there an opportunity in this situation?

Instead of getting down about yourself and expecting things to get worse, ask yourself how things can get better. Doing this can allow you to grow, rather than spiral into emotional turmoil! 

Find ways to serve others.

Taking the time to get outside of yourself and your own issues is a great way to improve your attitude. Sometimes just seeing others who are less fortunate than you can change your perspective on your own situations. In addition, research shows that volunteering increases feelings of happiness and overall well-being. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. 

Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals. As well, volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system. Which in turn protects you against depression and negative thoughts.

Take care of yourself.  

Repeat after us. “Self-care isn’t selfish!” You can’t pour from an empty cup. To stay positive in recovery, you need to devote a certain amount of time to taking care of yourself. Through simple actions like exercising, eating well, getting plenty of rest, and pampering yourself, you can’t help but feel better physically and mentally. 

At some point, it will affect your attitude in a positive way. If you’re not taking care of yourself, your mood suffers, your concentration decreases, and your ability to cope with cravings and triggers is compromised. On the other hand, a high level of self-care helps you maintain a stable mood, and it leads to more energy and motivation and better coping abilities.

Get Enough Sleep

Taking care of yourself in general by getting regular exercise and eating healthy is important. However, sleep may be the single most important aspect of self-care to sustain a positive mindset. Research shows that even mild sleep deficits, such as sleeping only six or seven hours a night, can lead to significant cognitive impairment, including slower reaction times and microsleeps–falling asleep for a second or less. Unfortunately, most people are not even aware that their cognitive performance is suffering. 

A chronic sleep deficit can increase anxiety and depression and impair emotional regulation. Since your prefrontal cortex bears the brunt of inadequate sleep, you may not have the presence of mind to calm yourself down when things get tough. 

Find a new sober hobby. 

After freeing yourself from the chains of drugs and alcohol you find yourself with a lot of free time on your hands. The time you used to spend using and finding ways to use is now free for exploring new hobbies and interests. When you fill your schedule with positive activities where you create or learn new skills you feel accomplished and proud of yourself. Using your time wisely also helps you avoid boredom, anger, stress, and other negative emotions. This is not only healthy mentally but physically too.

Set achievable goals for yourself to stay positive in recovery.

Start off small and work your way up. Everytime you achieve a personal goal (no matter how seemingly small) you will further build self-esteem, while reminding yourself that you are capable. Maybe your goal is to make your bed every morning, or to make at least one Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every day. Stick to things that you know you will be able to accomplish with a little hard work and determination. 

Using your time wisely can promote accountability and help you fulfill your responsibilities, which will help you avoid returning to substance abuse or putting yourself in triggering situations.When setting a goal to try something new or learn a new skill, make it specific and set a projected date for achieving the goal. This can keep you focused.


Do you need help to stay positive in recovery? 

The process of going through addiction treatment on the way to recovery is difficult. It involves a great deal of focus and commitment to both seek treatment, then get through what is often a taxing treatment process. The way that you think will impact the way you experience the world – and it will impact your recovery from addiction. Taking positive action to generate positivity will help get you there.

 It’s always well worth the time and effort because it gives those people suffering from drug addiction the chance to reclaim their lives and be able to live on without the need to use. You have much more to live for than drugs or alcohol. Contact Harmony Ridge Recovery Center today at (888) 771-8372. Our counselors will help you understand how much you have to offer the world around you.

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