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New Years Resolutions for Recovery

Victory Bay

Hat’s off to another New Year in recovery! Whether it’s your first New Year recovering from substance use, mental health disorders, or an eating disorder, or your tenth, each new year offers us the opportunity to reinforce and enhance our recovery practices.

Everyone’s heard of New Year’s Resolutions, which means everyone knows data shows most people don’t follow through on their commitments as the year drags on. For those in recovery, especially newly in recovery, there isn’t much luxury to abandon goals if we want to continue to maintain the gains we’ve achieved.

But those in recovery setting New Year’s resolutions for personal growth have a specific edge as well: they know what it’s like to achieve real change, and the endless benefits that come with being accountable to our goals. 

For those that are newer to recovery, let’s break down what it takes to stick to our goals. Follow these simple steps for setting yourself up for success.  

Use a SMART goal framework.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. This means your resolutions should make sense. Ask yourself, what am I trying to achieve? One of the quickest way resolutions come undone is by making a vague claim over what we want. “I want to be more spiritual” doesn’t give us much of a framework to work with. Try instead, “I will meditate for five minutes once a week”.  

Don’t set yourself up for failure.

Most people in recovery from addiction and other disorders are perfectionists, and experts at “all or nothing” thinking. It’s part of what makes those in recovery so special: they want what they want. When that mindset can be harnessed for good, there’s nothing they can’t achieve. But, it’s a double edged sword. People in recovery can set resolutions so big they walk themselves right up to the door of failure, and give up at the first sign of trouble. Don’t fall for the trap! “I will eat healthy for every meal” is a great example of an expectation in waiting. Try instead, “I will opt for a healthier option when I eat out”. Change happens in the babysteps, not in the big upheavals.  

These are just a handful of symptoms, with some being more or less common based on the type of eating disorder one is suffering from.  

Be flexible in your change behaviors.

Speaking of “all or nothing” thinking, your needs may change throughout the year. Some resolutions are fixed goals that have no wiggle room, i.e. our commitment to our recovery and personal growth. Others are more flexible, and need room for re-evaluation in order to be achieved. Maybe your commitment to learn a new hobby has transmuted to being more focused on your professional growth – that’s okay, and doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Those in recovery are also extraordinarily hard on themselves; fight this urge and allow yourself to be less rigid in your goals.  

Now that we have an understanding on how to set a New Year’s resolution in recovery, what are some goals we can get started with that will aid us on the recovery journey? Take a look below at some smart goals that can help us get closer to ourselves.  

I will move my body for 15 minutes each day.

Start small and less rigid. Movement has incredible benefits towards our recovery and mental health. Whether we are releasing endorphins, or trying to build a new relationship with our bodies, setting this manageable goal allows us to connect to accountability and personal growth. Walk the dog, do yoga, or go for a run. Any type of movement counts.  

I will identify a hobby I like, and make time to practice it once a week.

Don’t just pick a hobby you think is cool! Part of the recovery process is getting to know who we are, and what we like. Really take the time to nail down what will bring your joy. No hobby is the wrong choice. I find that those in recovery are drawn towards the biggest and the best. You don’t need to learn to be a carpenter overnight if coloring provides you with relief. Connect to who you are, and set a goal to explore what makes you happy.  

I will exercise gratitude more by doing a random act of kindness each month.

A huge part of recovery is perspective shifting and becoming less internally focused. A great way to exercise this perspective-shifting is by allowing ourselves to be of service to others. This can look like paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru, or extending an authentic moment of praise to a coworker. Allowing yourself to connect to the world around you will provide you with an opportunity to get out of your own head, and make meaningful connections.  

When I feel overwhelmed, I will reach out to my support network.

This is a simple yet effective resolution. It offers two things – a challenge to become more self-aware, while also enhancing the community around us. In order to achieve this goal, you must connect to the feeling of overwhelm, recognize it as something that can change, and communicate that you need support. It’s moldable over time, and challenges you to connect not only to yourself, but to others. 

I will journal every Sunday for five minutes.

Not ten minutes, not an hour: five minutes. Start small to build the habit, and see what comes up. You may find this time to connect to yourself allows you to get acquainted with what you need (something that is absolutely vital for early recovery), or helps you clear up any confusion in your head. You may find out you hate journaling, and then find a way to adjust the resolution. Either way it’s a great exercise in accountability and personal growth.  

Noticing themes within these goals? They are made to be achievable. They are a challenge, but something you can swallow with consistent effort. Remember – it’s okay if your resolutions change. The New Year offers a time of reflection and reset, something you can provide yourself with at any time if needed. 

Congrats on another year in recovery! Now get to work.  

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At Victory Bay we’re here to help you achieve a new life with a new start in recovery. To learn more about the variety of treatment programs we offer, including mental health, eating disorders, and substance use, contact us today by calling 855.239.5099.