Leading a balanced life is challenging for most people, particularly those recovering from addiction. Some people may consider balance to be a juggling act but it is less about keeping all the balls in the air and more about finding the things that bring you joy and peace. Life is going to be full of ups and downs, highs and lows. The goal for a recovering addict is to mitigate the extreme highs and extreme lows by finding a balance in the middle.

 

A few ways to do this include:

 

  •   Minimizing expectations so that you can respond to situations as they are, rather than how you think they should be.
  •   Seeking alternatives to previous activities which brought intense excitement and adrenaline or possibly fueled addictive behaviors
  •   Understanding that less is more, finding pleasure in quiet as well as busy times

 

The challenge for a recovering addict is the desire to feel even better when things are going well. A very natural response is to continue doing the activity which brought pleasurable feelings. Dopamine is released which triggers “feel good” sensations. An addict is often struggling with emotional turmoil of some kind and therefore prone to avoid negative, unpleasant, or uncomfortable feelings.  In addiction, it was easy to use substances as a quick fix to prevent those bad feelings from surfacing.

 

While sober, it can be easy to think of all the ‘good times’ with rose colored glasses. Continue working towards sobriety with new glasses, a new perspective, which looks at life without substance use as healthy, holistic, and imperfect. Since it took this long to live life as an addict, it may take just as long to learn how to live sober. Balance is key.

 

Seek help. Ask from support groups, family, friends or anyone who is doing life with you sober. Let them offer guidance on how best to achieve balance.

 

Stop comparison. It is easy in our culture to compare ourselves to someone else, but it can be extremely challenging to remain sober while looking at others who have more, been sober longer, or are still an active addict and seem to be further down the path than where you are. Don’t be fooled. Stay the course. Focus on your own recovery.

 

Maintain a balanced mind, body and spirit. Engage your mind through reading books, doing crossword puzzles, or practicing creative expression (writing, music). Exercise with a friend and make a routine out of it. Try to do this at least thirty minutes a day (outside, if possible). Eat a healthy diet. Meet with a nutritionist who can help guide you towards success. Oftentimes poor nutrition can lead to low energy which can lead to feelings of being depressed. Take time to notice what’s around, in nature, outside yourself. Look at the sky, the earth, the ground beneath your feet. This a great way to engage all the senses in a positive way and releases feel good hormones without using unnatural substances. Practice gratitude for the moment and be thankful for the blessing of life.

Strive for present over perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. It is part of the learning process. The key is to own your sobriety, ask for help, seek wisdom from those who can support you and guide you towards the balanced life you seek.

 

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