One Day at a Time – Practicing Mindfulness in Recovery
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Originally Posted On: https://jameshaggertyrecovery.com/blog/mindfulness-in-recovery/
Many of us are familiar with the phrase “taking life one day at a time.” It’s been a standby in my life for as long as I can remember. However, I haven’t always put it in practice. The reality is that in recovery sometimes you need to take it one minute or one second at a time. When I do, my life’s journey takes me on a much healthier path. Whether you used to hear your parents say this when times would get tough or you just recently heard it from a friend, this phrase is one to hold onto—especially if you are on the journey of recovery.
For most of us, life and all its different obstacles can get overwhelming quickly. That’s why taking a step back to “take life one day at a time” is so important. It’s easy to worry about the future or overthink your past, but being able to focus on the present is something that can help you improve your overall quality of life.
Here’s how taking life one day at a time can help you on your journey of recovery.
What Does It Mean to “Take Life One Day at a Time?”
To take life one day at a time can mean many different things to different people. Ultimately, the practice of taking life one day at a time is related to you being present in the current moment that you are experiencing. It can be extremely easy to worry about your future and let that affect how you are living right now. The same can happen with feelings from your past.
Allowing yourself to slow down and focus on the present moment is crucial. Take time to move your worries and anxiety away from your future, past, or whatever obstacles are in your way. You cannot change the past and you cannot control the future. The only thing that you have control over in this current moment is yourself.
You only experience the present as it’s occurring, so allow yourself to do so without your worries of other issues coming forward and taking that time from you. Though life can seem overwhelming and even impossible at times, taking a step back so that you can take each day on its own can help you get through it. Don’t let your past or future worries take control of your life now.
What Does “Being Present” Mean?
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“Being present” is a phrase you might find yourself hearing more and more nowadays. But what does it actually mean to “be present?” While practicing being present in the moment can be a different process for everyone, it mostly focuses on mindfulness and allowing yourself to experience the current moment you are in.
Being present is the act of being fully aware of what you are experiencing and allowing yourself to feel it fully, without interruptions of worry, anxiety, or other obstacles that can get in your way. When we are present, we are acknowledging our thoughts, surroundings, and pieces of the moment around us. This is where it becomes extremely important to learn to let go of your worries about the past and future.
Being Present Throughout Recovery
Being present and practicing mindfulness in recovery are two essential tools to living your life to the fullest. For those of us in recovery, we may often find ourselves worrying about our past or our previous actions that occurred as a result of our addictions. Practicing mindfulness can help us slowly let go of these worries so that they no longer affect us here in the present. To be present allows us to focus on the current moment at hand, what we want to achieve, and what we want to let go. Oftentimes, letting go can be an extremely difficult piece of recovery, but allowing yourself to let go of your past and your mistakes is what helps you to be able to grow in the future.
But, the future can be just as anxiety-inducing for a lot of people in recovery, too. Frequently, looking at the bigger picture of all of the things that we want to achieve can be daunting. For example, for many people the idea of never having a drink again is not only anxiety-inducing, but extremely difficult, too.
This often puts a great deal of stress on those who may be thinking about sobriety or those who are trying to stay sober—making them feel that, if they mess up, there is no going back. Many people in recovery feel especially intimidated by sobriety as they tend to look at the big picture where they may never drink again, versus the smaller, individual picture of them being present in their lives and simply enjoying the days as they come. It’s often too easy to let our worries take hold of our lives and let them distract us. Being present throughout recovery is one way for us to fight that.
To “Live One Day at a Time” Through AA
Alcoholics Anonymous is often credited for the creation and the popularity of the phrase “live life one day at a time.” It stems back to their basic practices of 24 hours of sobriety, where each day you work towards being sober and taking care of yourself for 24 hours. They focus heavily on the responsibility you have of taking care of yourself and how you can help yourself recover. Living one day at a time makes these difficult tasks (such as staying sober) seem much more realistic to accomplish and helps people set realistic goals that they believe in and can achieve. The one day at a time quote from AA has helped a multitude of people on their journey to sobriety.
One Problem at a Time
To take life day-by-day also means that you can take your problems day-by-day, too. One of the daunting things about recovery is the variety of obstacles when trying to stay sober. These problems and obstacles may seem intimidating when faced all at once, but humans tend to overanalyze and worry ourselves about situations and problems that might not even happen.
Living life one day at a time means that you can solve your problems one day at a time, too. There’s no need to worry about the obstacles that haven’t come your way yet. Focus on your issues as they arise and solve them in ways that make you proud. And remember, you are capable of anything you set your mind to.
Ways to Help Yourself Take Life Day-by-Day
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Every day that you will experience is different, making them impossible to predict. That’s just another reason that focusing on living in the moment is so important, because worrying about something that you cannot control will not do you much good.
Here are just a few ways to help you work on being present and living life one day at a time:
1. Practicing Meditation
To some, meditation may seem intimidating or even silly. But, meditation is one of the greatest ways to practice mindfulness and being present. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes or 50 minutes, allowing yourself a period of time to clear your thoughts and focus on your intentions is essential in your journey of recovery.
2. Stay Optimistic
Recovery is hard, and staying optimistic when things get rough can be even harder. Staying optimistic is one way to help you continue taking things day-by-day, as the possibility for bright new opportunities will always be available the next day, even if things felt bad today. Being optimistic is also a great tool for helping combat excess worry and anxiety about the future, where you can replace anxiety with optimism and hope for future situations instead.
3. Take Your Problems One Day at a Time
As mentioned before, taking your problems one day at a time is so important for you and your recovery. Obstacles will come and go and despite how overwhelming they may feel, you will be able to push past them. Your problems can seem much scarier when you look at them all at once. Take a step back and face them each one day at a time.
4. Focus on What Is Important to You
What are your hobbies? What do you love to do? What is important to you? These are the questions you need to ask yourself and find the answers to focus on in order to help yourself heal. Putting your energy and time into something that you love is a great way to help yourself take each day as it comes. Identify your intentions and what is important to give yourself something to work for.
5. Spend Time with People You Love
Though it may seem like something simple, spending time with the people you love is an essential part of your life. Enjoy the people in your life while you can and appreciate all the little moments you get to spend with them. Remind yourself that they are another part of the reason that you are recovering.
6. Appreciate the Little Things
One of the most important things that we can do in life is to appreciate the smaller pieces of our lives. From our animals to the beautiful mornings we get to spend with our coffee, there are so many little things in our lives that we often take for granted. In recovery, you begin to find what makes you whole again, and you appreciate the smaller things in life so much more. As you take each day as it comes, remember to appreciate the little things as they roll in.
Taking Life One Day at a Time Throughout Your Journey of Recovery
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Life can get overwhelming and difficult quickly. That’s why taking a step back and practicing being present in the current moment is so important.
Living life one day at a time is a mindset change that can greatly impact anyone’s quality of life—especially those in recovery. Though the phrase may make it seem almost too simple, it’s all about perspective. Life can feel much more overwhelming when you’re looking at all of your problems, past, present, and future, in one big pile. Your problems, your goals, or whatever it may be, can all be taken one day at a time. By taking this practice seriously and changing your perspective, you can ultimately change your life too.
It can be extremely easy to let your worries of the future or anxieties from the past distract you from the moments you are currently experiencing. Recovery isn’t easy. But, it’s important to remember how capable you are of conquering even the most difficult of obstacles and achieving your biggest goals. By living life one day at a time, you can recover.