(press release: summitbehavioralhealth) // New Jersey // Maria Ulmer MA, LMFT, CAADC | Chief Clinical Officer
Gratitude may seem like a small thing, but it can be a huge factor in the success of your recovery from addiction, reports Summit Behavioral Health a NJ addiction treatment center. Consider the last time you felt truly grateful. Didn’t it make you feel happy? Content? Like everything was right with the world? How long has it been since you have felt that way?
Often times, it is the lack of gratitude and a discontentment with the general state of your life that makes way for addiction. And failing to develop and practice gratitude in your recovery can quickly place you on the path to relapse. You will likely work a lot on gratitude in rehab, but it needs to be a continual practice as you make your way in recovery after treatment.
There are some amazing benefits that are derived from gratitude in general:
- Improved self-esteem – When you are grateful for things in your life you feel better about yourself.
- Makes you feel successful – Feeling thankful for all that you have, rather than disappointed for what you don’t have, has a way of making you feel successful in your life.
- It’s good for your heart – Studies have shown that heart-related illnesses are fewer in people who have higher levels of gratitude.
- Increases resilience – When you practice gratitude, you are able to bounce back quicker from setbacks.
- Fewer conflicts with others – When you are grateful, you tend to be less concerned with having your way and being right. This promotes much more harmony with others.
- Increased circle of friends – People who are grateful are more pleasant to be around, thus they usually have a larger circle of friends.
Why You Need Gratitude in Recovery
Gratitude is much more than simply being thankful for something. It’s a state of mind that involves the body, mind, and spirit. It’s a way of thinking about life – a mindset. Once you have created the mindset of gratitude, and you live it, your outlook on life can change for the better in an instant.
Harvard Health reports, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Those are all aspects that are vital to recovery.
People who are in recovery have likely suffered through many struggles leading up to going to treatment. They will need those positive emotions, good experiences, better health, improved ability to handle diversity, and stronger relationships to stay on the path of recovery.
Some of the other benefits of developing a mindset of gratitude in recovery are:
- It promotes better health – Practicing gratitude can lower blood pressure, relieve stress, boost your immune system, and make you less likely to have aches and pains.
- It encourages you to help others – People who live in gratitude are more likely to be compassionate, understanding, and helpful to others.
- It builds stronger relationships – Gratitude facilitates a deeper appreciation for others, which strengthens relationships with friends and family.
- It provides contentment – Gratitude can reduce depression and anxiety, and provide you with a sense of contentment and joy.
One study shows that people who take the time to keep gratitude journals have 23 percent lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It also states that practicing gratitude daily can reduce the effects of aging on the brain.
Psychology Today reports that spending 15 minutes in the evening writing in a gratitude journal before bed helped people fall asleep faster and sleep longer than people who did not keep a gratitude journal.
Gratitude causes you to have a happier, more positive outlook, reduces stress, encourages you to make better choices regarding your physical and mental health, and helps you sleep better – these are all things that will aid your recovery from addiction.
The Importance of Having Gratitude in Recovery
When you are grateful in your recovery, it’s less likely that you will relapse back into active addiction. Gratitude helps motivate you to do what you need to in order to guard your sobriety. It’s when you stop being grateful, taking your recovery for granted, that you begin the downward spiral toward relapse. A grateful outlook will help you face challenges and struggles as they come up, without sinking into negative thinking and backsliding.
Gratitude is also important because it reminds you that it’s not all about you. One of the biggest problems for people with addictions is that they are self-centered or self-absorbed. They spend their time thinking about their own needs and wants, never considering the needs and wants of others. Once they get sober, that thinking may be slow to go away. They may continue to be self-absorbed even as they begin their recovery. When you feel grateful, there is a deeper sense of satisfaction for all that you have in your life, and you have less reason to be selfish and self-centered. Gratitude opens the door for you to pay attention to what others need too.
Finding Help for Addiction
Gratitude is just one of the tools that addiction treatment employs to help you improve your life. There are many others that are every bit as important to your recovery. If you choose to go to treatment for your addiction you will learn about coping and life skills, relapse prevention, addiction education, forgiveness, honesty, and a whole host of other things that will enhance your recovery.
You will be able to participate in therapy – individual and group – and receive psychiatric care, if needed. Most importantly, you will have the support and care of addiction professionals, and the understanding and support of your peers.
If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, now is the time to seek help from an addiction treatment center that provides a continuum of care. You will be grateful you did.