Ringing in a new year is exciting — the celebrations, the hopeful outlook on the future, etc., is an annual moment of collective optimism that brings a sense hope and new beginnings. However, the season itself — the holidays, reminders of hardships, partying, and tension-filled gatherings all happening simultaneously can prove extremely difficult for people in sobriety. As we think back on the tumultuous year we all just experienced, it’s time to breathe for a moment, take a self-inventory, and put some focus on our mental, emotional and physical wellness. To those in recovery, we understand this year has been taxing on all fronts – no in-person meetings, being stuck at home, sometimes alone for extended periods of time, increased social and societal stress, and more. Historically, this time of year is when most relapses occur. When you tack on a global pandemic that demands solitude and social distancing, this time of year will be challenging for many to maintain sobriety.
Relapse is a scary word — it connotes failure, shame, embarrassment, and letting yourself and the people who support you down. I’ve been there — I’ve relapsed a few times and many people I know in recovery have relapsed as well. Those same connotations are what kept me in that seemingly deep hole of shame and regret that I was too scared to leave, as it would require admittance of “failure” to myself and others and ask for help from the people that had already given me chances in the past. Because of those feelings, it was seemingly too hard for me to reach out for help. The self-doubt and questions that whirled through my head were enough to keep bottles of liquor and pills within arm’s reach at all times.
January is a time when we can reflect on our thoughts, actions, successes and failures over the past 12 months and formulate new plans to be a better version of ourselves in the year ahead. It’s a new year, a “new you,” as they say. Especially after a relapse, it’s easy to fall into the mental trap of despair when everything around us seems chaotic; our focus gets shifted from our well-being to the constant onslaught of negativity in the news or social media feeds.
New Year’s Resolutions
New Year’s resolutions are a great way to rediscover the things that bring joy to our lives and bring life to new habits that support our overall wellness. It’s the perfect time to rekindle the inner relationship of our mind, body, and soul and examine some everyday practices to re-center our mind and continue our recovery from drugs and alcohol.
New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap because they’re often abandoned or forgotten within a month. Before we know it, many find their way back to old ways with little to no change in their daily habits. The reason for this may be that our aspirations or expectations are set too high; we make grand resolutions with lofty goals that seem too daunting once we begin.
Creating goals that are too big establishes a sense of being overwhelmed at the task ahead, making it easier to abandon when we don’t see immediate results or life just gets in the way. The trick with sustained resolutions is to start small – think one day at a time rather than a month or year-long goal. With time, smaller goals will turn into daily habits and you’ll be well on your way to living a life in wellness and recovery.
Asking for Help
What makes it so difficult to reach out for help after a relapse? Is it those feelings of shame or regret, or is there more to it? I believe the answer lies in one’s willingness to take the first step – whether that be a phone call, email, or text to someone familiar with the person’s substance use disorder. That initial first step is often the hardest, but the rest will fall into place once you take that step. If we focus our thoughts on the outcome rather than the process, for example, “Am I going to have to go to rehab? How will my family/friends/sponsor react? What if I relapse again?” etc., we are only setting ourselves up to be overwhelmed.Much like New Year’s resolutions, if we set too lofty a goal or overwhelm ourselves with hard-to-tackle aspirations, we are often bound to give up on the changes and resort to our comfort zone once again.
If you’re reading this and you have relapsed recently, consider this time of year as an opportunity to treat your addiction as you would a resolution.Reach out for help. Create small daily goals that will turn into life-long habits.Let this new year be the beginning of meaningful change. If you’re stuck in a rut either mentally, physically or both, create some time each day to focus on your wellness.We are here for anyone reading this to support, inspire, and empower everyone to live a healthy, fulfilling life, free from substances. We are a community that fosters personal growth and physical and mental well-being.
Team Herren Project January Challenge
Speaking of wellness, Team Herren Project participates in different group-wide challenges from time to time to spark the motivation for physical and mental activities to improve overall holistic health. January’s challenge is to try one new thing each day, hoping to turn daily goals into life-long habits to start in 2021. Not a member of Team Herren Project? That’s perfectly fine as this challenge is open to everyone.
How Does it Work?
Each day, from January 1–31, we challenge and encourage everyone to try one new thing, then share and celebrate it. This challenge is designed to help build our brains and bodies, fire up some new neurons, and challenge our comfort zones.
1. Choose your ‘one new thing’ ahead of time or in the moment of your day. You may choose to do one small new thing each day, or you may decide to start one more considerable effort over the course of the month (i.e., try a new sport, learn a new language, etc.).
2. Post your progress on social media, ask for advice, and share your fun as much as you’d like, both within and outside the Team Herren Project group.
3. Please use the hashtags #tryonenewthing and #teamherrenproject. Ideas are unlimited and pertain to YOU and YOUR goals. Have fun with it and things will come your way.
If you need some ideas to begin, try starting with some of these ideas below:
Try a new food
Cook something new
Try a new meeting or club
Run or walk an extra mile
Run, walk, or cycle a new route
Sign up for a race or other active event
Help a neighbor with something
Start a new book
Listen to a podcast
Meditate or try yoga
Try a plank
Wear your watch on the other wrist
Get up an hour earlier
Take your children to try something new
Feel free to share your daily challenge using the above hashtags, or you can keep them entirely to yourself — the choice is yours. Remember, the purpose of this challenge is to support, inspire, and empower each other to go outside our comfort zones in small ways and to help each other grow into the new year. Learn more about the Team Herren Project community.
From all of us at Herren Project — Happy New Year and always remember there is support here for you — all it takes is one thing – the willingness to take the first step in becoming the person you were meant to be!
If you are ready to change your life and start the process of recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction, our Herren Project team is available to help you. Start by going to our website and fill out the inquiry form on our home page. Additionally, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 844-543-8555 for more information