I don't know about you, but since getting sober, my affinity for structure and regularity has blossomed. I'm all about 'the routine'. In this post, I'll share some of of the things on my morning regimen.
Wake up, thank God
For me, the absolute worst feeling in the world was waking up — or rather, coming to after a night of hard use and abuse. Gratitude is easy to find when you wake up free from the lash of drugs and alcohol so this one's probably on your list as well.
According to Psychology Today, Gratitude has been proven to have the following benefits:
Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Relationships blossom when two individuals envision mutually beneficial outcome. Focusing on how you can be grateful for someone in your life will help relationships grow and flourish.
Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences.
Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.
Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs—a major factor in reduced self-esteem—grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Drinking water first thing in the morning immediately helps rehydrate the body. The six to eight hours of recommended nightly sleep is a long period to go without any water consumption. Drinking a glass or two of water right when you wake up.
Meditation early in my day gives me a sense of calm, peace and balance that I believe benefits both my emotional well-being and my overall health.
And these benefits don't end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry me more calmly through my day and may help me manage symptoms of my disease.
When I meditate, I'm clearing away the information overload that builds up every day and even through my sleeping moments and contributes to my stress.
When I take time to sit, calmly with I find the following benefits:
- Gain perspective on situations. I'm able to see situations more clearly
- Focusing on the present... the most important moment of my day
- Building skills to manage stress
- Increasing imagination and creativity
- Increase my self-awareness
- Reducing negative emotions
- Increasing my ability to be patient and tolerant and forgiving
The opposite of meditation, is prayer. When I pray I talk to my Higher Power. When I meditate, I listen. I find the 9th Step, St. Francis prayer so powerful in setting my intention for the day.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
Movement and Challenge
A big part of my recovery is my fitness routine. The first and most influential factor driving my mental state at any given moment is my relationship with my Higher Power — my spiritual condition. I attribute my physical condition — my fitness as a close second in the mix. To maintain this, I must incorporate movement and a difficult set of tasks, physical in nature into my daily routine. For me, that's getting to the gym — but you don't need a gym. It can be simple, body-weight exercises such as knee bends, or squats; sit-ups; walking. If push-ups are out of the question, lean against a wall - just feel your muscles doing something.
Fellowship and Inspiration
It's important for me to immerse myself in connections with other, like-minded individuals. For me, this means getting to a meeting. This can be difficult during a pandemic - there alas, there is a solution. The Meeting Guide App provides listings of meetings — both physical/in-person as well as online.
I attend my home-group meeting each and every day. This enables me to learn from my fellows. How are they working their sobriety program? How are they dealing with life's inevitable problems, in a sober, sane way? I receive so much inspiration from my fellows.
I also listen to a variety of recovery-based podcasts. The Daily Reflection Podcast is certainly an option with a daily inspirational interview with a member of the recovery community but it's not the only option for sure.
However you look at it, your experience of the world is a direct result of your actions. Setting your intention, and following that through with a consistent set of actions is a framework that enables me to live life fully, in line with good intention. I hope you found this article helpful.