If you have already put in the time and effort to go to drug rehab, stopped use of all substances, and really started to implement all those coping mechanisms you learned in treatment, then you are already investing in yourself.
You have demonstrated a level of persistence, hard work, and dedication that many people strive for and never reach. Now all you have to do is continue to apply that same focus and determination to other areas of your life, and you will find that you will feel better physically and mentally, and it’ll be easier to stay sober.
Here are some of the best ways you can begin to invest in yourself and experience the emotional and psychological dividends you need in recovery:
- Actually do some of the things you know you “should” do.
You know what we mean here: Things like eating your vegetables, going to bed early, getting a workout in regularly, and quitting smoking may seem like these vague things that everyone knows they “should” do but no one really puts into action. While it’s true that Americans, in general, are not the greatest at prioritizing their health over the instant gratification that comes with indulgences, it is also true that if you are in recovery, you are very well practiced in figuring out ways to manage what others might experience as overwhelming cravings. If you can quit drinking and using drugs, you can quit smoking, eat less junk food, drink more water, and get the sleep you need to function healthfully and invest in your overall wellness.
- Read books.
There are a number of amazing books out there – something for everyone, no matter your interest. From graphic novels that outline the history of everything from the atomic bomb to the Salem witch trials to epic novels that cross time and oceans and thousands of other topics in between, you can always find something that is of interest, giving you a break from the mundane. Expand your knowledge with nonfiction or emotional understanding and resonance with the world through novels and short stories. Find something that moves you and allows you to invest in your intellectual and emotional growth.
- Choose to let go of the negative.
There is a big difference between happiness and contentedness. Happiness is an emotion, like a high that comes and goes. While it may be possible for some to actively choose to be happy, for many in early recovery, it is far easier to focus first on choosing contentedness.
Investing in yourself means making choices all day every day that prioritize your ability to cope with the unexpected and/or the routine challenges of life. Not everything that happens will be within your sphere of control or things you would have chosen for your life, but when you choose contentedness, you are actually choosing to allow things to happen around you without judgment. That is, rather than saying that something is good or bad, no matter its consequences, simply accepting that it is and making changes to improve your experience going forward will help you to avoid extreme negative emotions that can be a trigger for relapse.
- Evaluate your finances.
Financial stress is a huge issue for almost everyone in recovery. Addiction is expensive, and while addiction treatment is far less expensive than active addiction, it still comes with a price tag. Getting back on track and investing in yourself, in this case, means literally putting your money into the things that will benefit you most. Of course, food and shelter are your primary concerns, but beyond that, extra money must be put toward the treatment services that allow you to remain sober and then toward the financial endeavors that will allow you to better your life in recovery, such as:
- Paying off debt
- Saving up for a certification or college course
- Moving to a safer home
- Trying holistic treatment options that will improve your overall wellness (e.g., acupuncture, yoga classes, bodywork and massage, etc.)
- Check in with yourself regularly.
Just like with any investment, it is important to regularly check in and know what is going on. Putting yourself on autopilot may mean that you are overlooking stressors that are increasing slowly over time, issues that are building at work or at home, or feelings you are having that can indicate a change in course is necessary.
The best way to do this is to journal. When you regularly check in about what you want, your progress toward your goals, and how you are feeling, you can easily look back on where you were and compare it to where you are today. It can be helpful to write it out: how you were feeling in general a month ago as compared to today, the people you were spending the most time with then and now, and the treatments and therapies you were engaging in then compared to now. Note the ways your life has improved or changed as a result. This can make it easy to highlight what needs to change and experiment with altering your schedule, your time spent with different people, and the therapies you engage in. Then, check back in another month to see how those changes are working for you.
If you are living in active addiction or struggling with chronic relapse in recovery, one of the best ways to invest in yourself is to engage in treatment. Learn more about the options available to you and consider the best way to begin to invest in your health and emotional wellness through treatment.