A woman riding a bus smiles out the window - How To Show Gratitude In Early Recovery & Beyond

Expressing gratitude, or thankfulness, is about more than just looking at the bright side or being cheerful when things are going well.

A grateful attitude is a daily exercise of looking at your life as it is and going out of your way to express heartfelt thanks and joy for every good thing in it.

Things like your family, your friends and allies, second chances and new opportunities to change, grow, rest, and live your life differently.

How To Practice Gratitude In Early Recovery

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude has long been recognized as an important part of the recovery process, including in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.

In fact, some of the known benefits of positive psychology and a grateful, optimistic attitude include:

  • better immune system function and faster healing
  • reduced levels of physical and psychological stress (e.g. lower blood pressure and heart rate)
  • improved self-esteem and self-worth
  • better coping skills and resilience
  • reduced risk of depression, anxiety, and other negative mental health symptoms
  • improved personal relationships
  • improved longevity and quality of life

To practice gratitude in your own life and throughout your own recovery from a drug or alcohol use disorder, you should:

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a skill often taught in addiction treatment programs. It can help you:

  • be more aware of your surroundings and your own internal thoughts and feelings
  • recognize and manage unhelpful habits or impulses
  • focus fully on the present moment

Together, gratitude and mindfulness complement each other, allowing you to recognize and focus on the positive things in your life, while being less reactive and better prepared for the challenges or difficulties you’ll face.

Use Daily Affirmations

The morning hours, after you wake up and before you head out the door, offer a brief and precious window to set the tone for the rest of your day by using daily affirmations.

Daily affirmations come in both books and applications and can easily be written in the moment or simply spoken from the heart.

In every case, expressing gratitude for another new day and the opportunities and joys that come with it can help you cultivate a positive outlook and live a better, happier life.

Take Notice Of The Little Things

Life is full of big challenges. But it is even more full of small blessings and joys. Things like a loved one’s smile, a beautiful day, the taste of food, the sound of music, and the opportunity to serve those around you are sometimes considered to be divine blessings from a higher power.

Reflecting on them and all the other people, places, and things that make your life good can help you more deeply value what you have, and even cope with drug or alcohol cravings when they arise.

Extending Gratitude To Others

While having a grateful mindset is important, it’s just as important for your practice of gratitude to extend outside of yourself to your family, friends, peers, supporters, and the others you encounter in your life.

By actively expressing your thanks to them and working to help others in meaningful ways you can break the self-centered nature of substance abuse and spread your positive mindset.

You can begin by simply writing thank you notes to those who have been important in your recovery journey so far, or by volunteering with nonprofit groups near your home.

You might also consider counseling others who are struggling with the addiction treatment process in peer support groups, when you’re ready to share what you’ve learned.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Many people find journaling to be a valuable tool to support their emotional wellbeing, especially during the turbulent ups and downs of withdrawal, addiction treatment, and the ongoing process of recovery once they return to daily life.

Gratitude lists are a similar but simpler option. All you have to do is take time at the end of your day to write down the positive things that happened and that you are grateful for.

This could be long, extensive, in-depth retelling, or a brief jotting down of the things that mean the most to you in the present moment. Either way, you will gradually find your sense of gratitude expanding as you recognize more and more things to include in your list each night.

Let’s Get Started

You shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of gratitude for addiction recovery, or the benefits of professional substance use disorder treatment services provided by qualified healthcare professionals.

To learn more, please contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today.

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Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

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This page does not provide medical advice.