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Learn / 101 Ways to Jump Into Recovery for the New Year

101 Ways to Jump Into Recovery for the New Year

By 
Dr. Malasri Chaudhery-Malgeri, Ph.D.
|
 January 3rd, 2024

As the new year dawns, it’s an opportune moment to consider recovery and let it transform your life. At Recovery.com, we are committed to empowering you with practical strategies to jump into recovery. Our comprehensive guide offers you 101 practical ways to start and support your recovery, encompassing various aspects of well-being. Wherever you may be in your journey, remember to: 

  • First and foremost, remember to be honest. Find someone you can be brutally honest with about your recovery and all its ups and downs. The journey won’t be perfect, and that’s alright. 
  • Seek professional help and support. You can use our website, Recovery.com, to find treatment that meets your needs
  • Set realistic and achievable goals.
  • Practice and prioritize self-care.
  • Nourish your body.
  • Listen to your mind-body-spirit and heart.

Educational Resources

Books, articles, videos and websites can provide information on a variety of topics related to addiction and mental health. These resources can be helpful for people struggling with addiction or mental health issues, as well as for their families and friends. They can educate on the causes of addiction and mental health disorders, the different types of treatment available, and how to coexist and cope with these conditions. Here are some websites and articles to get you started: 

1. Recovery.com Resource Library

2. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

3. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

4. The American Psychological Association (APA)

5. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

6. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

7. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center

8. Consider furthering your education as an investment in yourself (and/or your loved one). Obtaining a certificate, academic degree, or simply engaging in general continuing education are all great ways to do this and learn more about recovery.

Crisis Support

Crisis support provides immediate help to people who are experiencing a crisis or traumatic event. Crisis support can help people cope with strong emotions, develop/recall/access a safety plan, and practice healthy coping mechanisms. It can also help people connect with resources and services that can provide ongoing support. Here are a few to get you started: 

9. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 988

10. The Crisis Text Line: text 741741

11. SAMHSA’s free, confidential helpline for addiction and mental health needs: call 1-800-662-4357

12. National Domestic Violence Hotline: call 1-800-787-3224

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes, big and small, can help you improve your overall wellbeing. When you make these changes, you can help improve your mood, reduce the risk of, and/or better manage, depression, anxiety, and stress. And, you can improve your overall quality of life. 

13. Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins.

14. Commit to regular exercise

15. Aim for good quality sleep, then focus on the quantity that works for you (learn more below!)

16. Reduce stress with relaxation techniques.

17. Spend time with loved ones. 

18. Prioritize hobbies and other activities that bring you joy.

19. Seek professional mental health or addiction help. You can use our website, Recovery.com, to browse treatment centers and connect with one that meets your needs.  

20. Prioritize healthy, recovery-conducive online and in-person environments.

21. Purposefully spend time offline and away from social media. 

Physical Health Focus 

Our physical health plays a significant role in our mental health and well-being. We are more likely to feel good about ourselves and to have a more optimistic outlook on life as we work on improving and maintaining good physical health. Consider these suggestions and tools to get you started: 

22. Create an exercise plan that fits your lifestyle, so you can commit to it regularly and consistently. 

23. Create a weekly meal plan, so you can eat well and nourish your body. 

24. Spend time in nature, even if it’s your local park. 

25. Practice stretching and yoga

26. Try a new physical activity to keep you excited and engaged, such as martial arts or dance.

27. Join a gym or fitness center.

28. Have an accountability partner and/or workout buddy. 

29. Consider hiring a personal trainer or signing up for an online fitness course. 

30. Take scheduled breaks from technology. 

31. Make an effort to be physically active each day, like going on a quick walk or taking the stairs. Small efforts add up!

32. Monitor your progress. Wearable technology, like a fitness watch, can help you track and log workouts, what you eat, and even how much sleep you’re getting.  

Food & Nutrition 

Good food and nutrition are essential for overall health and the recovery journey. A healthy diet can help improve mood, energy levels, and sleep quality1. It can also help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression2. Nutrients are important for brain health and can help improve cognitive function as well. Here are some suggestions to get you started: 

33. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. 

34. Choose whole grains over refined grains. 

35. Limit unhealthy fats, like trans fat (preservative oils found in most processed foods) and saturated fats (whole milk, red meat, and cheese). 

36. Avoid added sugar. Look at a product’s nutrition label to see if there is added sugar.

37. When reading food labels, pay close attention to ingredient names that sound like chemicals. These ingredients may be harmful to your health, so it’s important to be aware of them and avoid them if possible.

38. Eat when you’re hungry, and be mindful of your body’s hunger and satiety signals.

39. Consistently eating enough to fuel your mind and body—and if you struggle to eat enough, be sure to tell your doctor.

40. Stay hydrated. Each person needs a unique amount of water to stay hydrated, but you can aim to drink before and after every meal and have a cup every hour.

41. Eat a variety of healthy foods that will nourish your mind and body. 

42. Cook at home more often. Try ordering meal kits or shopping regularly for a few key items.

43. Be mindful of your eating habits, and consider a meal planning tracker/tool. 

44. Consider consulting a nutritionist or dietician to help you with your dietary goals.

45. You can test for food allergies using online kits and resources. Knowing what your body does and doesn’t process well, or at all, can help you plan meals tailored to your body. 

Self-Reflection and Spiritual Practice 

Self-reflection and spiritual practice can contribute to a healthy and fulfilling life. Such practices can help with examining our thoughts, feelings and actions, and ultimately, gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. Self-reflection and spiritual practice can also serve as coping mechanisms and tools to cope with stress, depression and anxiety. There are many different ways to practice self-reflection and spiritual growth. It is important to find practices that work for you. Here are some suggestions to get you started on finding yours:

46. Start by listening to yourself. Take time daily to process your own emotions and needs.

47. Consider utilizing other modes of expression to connect with yourself and your beliefs, like art, singing, and dancing.

48. Surround yourself with positive people that lift you up and offer support. 

49. Set up boundaries to maintain your positivity and goals. 

50. Practice gratitude. You can write down 5+ things you’re grateful for as soon as you wake up, before you go to bed, or before you meditate. 

51. Consider journaling. You can write down thoughts and process strong emotions as they come, or set a time each day to journal. 

52. Learn to forgive yourself and focus on progress, not perfection. Believe in yourself and remind yourself where you are, where you started, and where you’re on the way to being.

53. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support from others. 

54. Meditation, prayer, and connecting with nature can help you quiet your mind and focus on the present moment while expressing your thoughts and feelings.

55. Celebrate your successes! 

56. Seek community in your religious group of preference. Some organizations have weekly groups and resources specifically for recovery

Mental Health & Wellness 

Improving your mental health can help you avoid relapses and better your overall well-being. One of your best resources for mental wellness is therapy and connecting with mental health professionals. But, you can also use practices and tools to improve your mental health and compliment what you’re learning in therapy. Here’s a few options to consider:

57. Practice mindfulness and meditation. 

58. Seek out a mental health professional based on your needs. Setting an appointment with a therapist, counselor, or psychologist can help you heal.

59. Create a toolbox of resources to help with relaxation, stress management, and more. 

60. Be open to new, healthy, coping mechanisms and tools that can help you grow as a person. 

61. Be proud of your progress!

62. Connect with others. 

63. Identify your stress management emergency plan (hint: keep your wellness toolbox handy).

64. Remember, recovery is a journey, not a destination. There will be ups and downs, and that is ok. Don’t give up!

65. Tap into your creativity to express emotions. You can try painting, drawing, doodling, embroidery, writing, poetry, and so much more.

Sleep Optimization & Hygiene  

Sleep hygiene is very important. But as you explore improving it, think about it this way: work on the quality first, then focus on quantity. The important highlights are consistency and rhythm of routine. Once the quality of your sleep improves, you work on sleeping more.  Recommendations often state 7-8 hours of sleep, but we may need more or less as we go through various stages of life. Listening to this, and analyzing why, is important. Here’s some other tips to bear in mind: 

66. Wake up at the same time every morning.

67. Create a bedtime routine that you can stick to daily. 

68. Try to view light from the sunrise and sunset each day. This helps realign your melatonin release system.

69. Limit screen time for at least one hour before bed.

70. Limit blue and white for at least 2 hours before bedtime–dim your lights or enjoy candlelight to stimulate melatonin release.

71. Read a boring book to help you get sleepy. Don’t read something that will get your heart rate going—think educational books, autobiographies, or most non-fiction novels. 

72. Create a comfortable, soothing environment to sleep. Remember, your bed/bedroom is your sleeping sanctuary. Set the mood with ambient lighting, essential oils, and soft music.

73. Exercise can help make you more tired at bedtime. Consider activities like yoga, walking, jogging, or any other physical activity you like. 

74. Address any sleep concerns you may have, like sleep apnea.

75. Don’t read the news, watch TV, or engage in other exciting activities before bed. 

76. Make sure your bed is only used for sleeping—don’t work, eat, or lounge on your bed unless you’re lying down to sleep.

77. Set a morning routine that gives you plenty of time to complete morning chores and settle into your day. This can make waking up less stressful.

78. Take prescribed or herbal supplements as recommended/prescribed by your doctor. Be sure to take them only as prescribed.

79. If you aren’t falling asleep or feeling very sleepy within 30 minutes, get up and walk around, have a soothing beverage, or read a calming book until you start feeling tired.

80. Consider setting up a white noise machine or wearing earplugs if small noises wake you up and disrupt your sleep.

81. Prioritize sleep and maintain your bedtime routine—make new plans with friends or go home a little earlier to get to bed on time.

82. Some people experience ASMR (​​autonomous sensory meridian response) in response to visuals and sounds, which can make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You can try watching ASMR videos on YouTube or other video platforms.

83. If you’re struggling to consistently get 7-8 hours of sleep, or don’t feel rested after your usual hours of sleep, you can seek professional help from a doctor, psychiatrist, or sleep psychologist.

84. Meditate! When your thoughts wander and become stressful, practice meditation or pray to center yourself and change your focus.

Stress Management

Managing stress can help you cope with triggers and stressful events without turning to substances to cope. Stress management can help during small issues and big life events, making it a valuable tool for your recovery toolkit. Here’s a few ideas to jumpstart your toolkit:

85. Make it a habit to journal each day to process your day, reflect on what you’ve accomplished, and identify your goals for tomorrow.

86. Take small breaks as you work or study.

87. Spend time in nature as often as you can. On one of your breaks, for example, you could step outside or out on your balcony.

88. Make time to walk, play with, or snuggle your pets. Pets can soothe stress and calm your body.

89. Set up regular therapy appointments to discuss what’s stressing you and to learn practical coping skills.

90. Practice mindfulness and meditation throughout the day. This could be as simple as 2 minutes of deep, conscious breathing.

91. Eat well; prioritize healthy foods to nourish your mind and body.

92. Avoid or consume less caffeine and sugar. Caffeine in particular can make you jittery and more anxious. 

93. Talk to a friend or loved one about your day.

94. Try new hobbies, like baking, crocheting, or painting to soothe stress and enjoy a creative outlet.

95. Listen to upbeat music or anything that lifts your mood. This could be a podcast, too.

96. Create a stress log and jot down what happened during the day and what your levels of stress were. This can help you identify pain points and move forward with healing.

97. Drink water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and in homeostasis.

98. Set up a cozy, comfortable place in your home and pick up a good book.

99. Optimize your environment to reduce stress—decorate, light candles, open your windows, and more to make it a place you can go to for comfort.

100. Write down a list of activities, things, or people that you know help alleviate stress to keep all your coping tools quick and easy to access.

101. Connect with your peer support before, during and after treatment. You may use an app, attend a recovery peer support meeting, or connect with an online group of people in recovery.

Contributions by Sarah Shawaker and Grace Ogren


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