The first time I really noticed the massive increase in my own personal resilience was the day after the EU Referendum results in June last year. I really did not think that the UK would or should vote to leave the EU, and never in a million years dreamed that Wales, and the (VERY heavily supported by EU funding) South Wales valleys would actually vote to leave.
My shock at the result quickly turned to great distress and anger, which threatened to overwhelm me until, in the early afternoon, I realised that at no point in the morning, which saw me in a highly agitated state, had I even thought about drinking and smoking. The first time either activity crossed my mind was when I realised that they hadn’t been an issue.
I know that my former self would have been in the pub by lunchtime, blaming the ‘leave’ voters and getting very angry.
I knew in that moment that I had grown considerably from the person I had been even just a year ago. I think that a year previously, which would have been just 8 months into my sobriety, I would have at least had to make a decision, and engaged willpower to overcome the urge to numb.
In early recovery, willpower is very important to ensure that you are able to resist the cravings. A clear sense of why you want to resist helps, as does a stockpile of distraction and relaxation strategies to enable you to get through those testing moments. It is worth remembering that a physical craving only lasts seconds, the agony comes from what your mind does with that brief moment of craving.
As your recovery deepens, it helps to work on practices that increase your resilience to stress and anxiety. Here are a few things you can do that help to build resilience and inner strength
Work your program
Whatever program of recovery you are following, make sure you follow it. For me, this means a commitment to my yoga practice, and living my life as closely aligned with yogic principles as possible. I am currently reading Russell Brand’s new book, Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions, which is teaching me about the 12 Step program. I have never done a 12 step program before, but am seriously thinking about working through it as I can see that it is a powerful program with which to improve life in all sorts of ways.
Spend some time each day reflecting on the day that has passed, what has been good, what could have been better, what lessons you have learned and what you can let go of. This helps to clear your mind of rumination and worry before bed, allowing yourself to get a better night’s sleep.
A regular gratitude practice is proven to be an effective protector against stress and to increase resilience. When you focus on the things that are good in your life, no matter how small, your brain becomes trained to look for the good things, and to find solutions to the less good. Gratitude has been shown to increase resilience, reduce stress and improve sleep, physical and mental health, and productivity and focus at work. Learn more about the benefits of gratitude here
Sleep is vital for the effective management of stress, so try to make sure that you get enough. Develop a relaxing nighttime routine that allows you to feel rested and ready for bed, such as journaling and gratitude, gentle exercise, a warm bath, reading from a book, and reduce activities that will prevent you getting good sleep, such as late night screen time, stimulating TV, high energy exercise. This post offers a practice that will help if you experience sleep difficulties.
Good nutrition is very important for everyone, but when you are in recovery, it is really important to allow your body to heal, and to give your brain all the resources it needs. The way we eat definitely impacts on how we feel emotionally, so if your diet is poor in nutrients, then your whole being will suffer. Olivia Pennelle, a nutrition coach in recovery herself has a wonderful website packed with amazing advice to help you improve your nutrition to boost your recovery
Talk it out
When you keep your worries to yourself, they can become huge, unmanageable monsters that can eat you up, creating shame and more stress and worry than they need to. Sharing your problems with a supportive other, whether that is a friend, caring professional, peer, loved one can ease the burden tremendously. Simply knowing that you have someone you can turn to can reduce the stress of a situation…..I have gone to a friend in great agitation many times, to have that agitation reduced the minute I hear the words ‘sit down, I’ll make you a cup of tea and we can talk about it‘. It is wise to choose your confidante wisely, don’t start pouring your heart out to the stranger on the bus stop just because she mentioned the weather, but a well chosen listening ear can transform worries.
I can help
If you need a supportive ear and want to talk to someone who has been through addiction and understands where you are, perhaps I can help. I offer free 30 minute Connection Calls in which we can talk about your worries, I can offer you some support and we can look at other ways in which I can support you. These calls are totally obligation free, I am here to serve.
If you would like to talk, please use the button below to book your call, and I will look forward to speaking to you soon