Addiction Recovery – Healthy Living Choices

Healthier living is a choice. And here are some choice tips towards a healthier approach to your life.

ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS

For help 24/7, reach out via the World Wide Web. A variety of chat boards, list groups, email pals, message boards and other means of cyber-communications can help link people up for fellowship during their recovery.

And some programs, like 12-steps, offer online meetings for those unable to attend in person. Used in a safe and sensible manner, these online communication systems can offer healing interaction among fellow addiction fighters.

Here are some general guidelines to follow for safe, healthy and effective communications.

First, depending upon the means of communication, most generally offer the user to key or type in comments, questions, share ideas, ask for help, cry on cyber-shoulders, etc. pretty much instantly.

And those places with archived posts allow for browsing and in-depth reading for those wanting to learn more on their own.

Take time to look around and learn the system and setup. Ask the moderator or person in charge of the site (usually listed on the Contact Us page) for help.

Second, when typing responses, do not use all capital letters. That means shouting to some people and they may take offense.

And third, be wary of sharing images. They can be altered and re-used by anyone. Scenic shots might be fine to share, like of recovery places to visit (public parks, scenic drives, etc.)

However, think twice before sharing family photos online with strangers. Ask permission if others are in the shots, too, before sharing. If you don’t have their permission, don’t share – – general rule of thumb.

Online Safety Tips

Don’t disclose personal information or anything that makes you uncomfortable. Many people feel they have the right to ask anything and plunge right on in. Ignore them, use your delete button or simply say that you are not comfortable discussing “that” right now.

Try not to be rude, even if the other inquiring person is, and try to keep out of cyber-fights. If you need help, seek out the moderator or webmaster (usually linked on the bottom of the website pages.)

If all else fails, move on to another forum, message board or other cyber-location, and leave that one alone for awhile. If and when things calm down, you can always revisit, see how things are and try again.

Don’t lie. Part of recovery is facing denial and no more lies. So if you are not comfortable telling the truth, stop. Don’t lie, just stop. Return to healing and recovery resources that you ARE comfortable with and don’t harm yourself.

Realize that all kinds of people of all ages jump on the Internet, many healthy, but many unhealthy. So not every place is a healthy environment for you at all times. Nothing personal, it’s just life. Period. And it’s not your fault; there’s nothing you can do. Instead, seek healthier recovery activities and keep healing!

Avoid topics that can trigger bad episodes, especially those that could possibly mean returning to past addiction –related issues. Here’s a visual way to explain this, as shared at some recovery 12-step meetings:

One of Life’s Paths

A man walks down the sidewalk and falls into a hole.

He picks himself up, dusts himself off, climbs out of the hole and moves on.

Next time this same man walks down that same sidewalk, he sees the hole up ahead and decides to go around it.

However, just as he skirts the edge of the hole, he accidentally falls in again.

As before, he picks himself up, dusts himself off, climbs out of the hole and moves on.

A third time going down the same sidewalk, this same man walks a little farther away from the hole, trying to by-pass it.

However, he trips over a rock in the path and falls in again anyway.

And as before, he picks himself up, dusts himself off, climbs out of the hole and moves on.

The forth time – – the same man chooses a DIFFERENT sidewalk and enjoys his walk.

The hole isn’t there; he doesn’t fall; there’s no need to climb out.

Success!

Moral of the story: choose your paths wisely!

MORE HEALTHY LIVING DAY-TO-DAY TIPS

Good Habits – Bad habits took time to develop; so do good ones. Take it a day at a time and focus on replacing the bad ones with good ones. Jot your progress down in a private journal. Reward your good days and good times with stickers, colored marker smileys, silly color-pencil sketches, etc. And stick with it! Remember “slow and steady wins the race,” not racing through things like the hare!

Be Your Best Friend – Forgive yourself and be a friend to yourself. No one is perfect. Be aware of your inner feelings and take care to find healthy outlets for yourself. For example, find healthy ways to express anger (yes, it’s OK to be angry sometimes!) and healthy outlets for fun (around healthy people and places).

Parent yourself by adopting better grooming habits, eating healthier and getting plenty of rest. And have your support network and healthcare professionals on your team help you learn how to handle stress and anything that triggers old addictive behaviors and ways to pop up.

Jot down notes for reference, if necessary, but bring them out as soon as you can and face them so that you can overcome them with healthier alternatives. Messed up in the meantime? Forgive yourself and move on. Don’t dwell on the negative. Instead, embrace the positive and your new network, support team and resources.

Stop and Smell the Roses – Life does have a lot to offer. And much is forgotten during stages of addiction. Keep an ongoing list or fun, neat things you’d like to do and USE it. For some ideas refer to the five senses; sight, taste, touch, smell, sound.

For example your list can include a walk in the park, collecting leaves, a swim at a local hotel or YMCA, sitting on a porch swing with a friend, singing your favorite songs, whistling your favorite tunes, enjoying a warm bubble bath, buying some fresh flowers, lighting a scented candle, eating your favorite healthy foods, preparing a fun snack and sharing it with a friend, playing a board game and walking the dog.

When you’re bored, anxious, or just need a break, grab your list and choose an item to do or plan.

Self-Improvement – Often addiction problems get started and continue because of lack of self-esteem. So reach out and continue your education, either formally or informally. Read motivational materials, listen to self-help tapes, watch inspiring movies, videos and DVDs.

Learn goal setting, money handling, business skills, time management skills and more through library books, local workshops and online opportunities. Take charge of your life and be responsible. With learning opportunities available from free to all variety of budget ranges, the time for excuses is over!

Time-Out – This does not refer to the “time out” punishment, like sending a child to stand in the corner at a daycare facility. This is a time-out for yourself and allowing “bad” stress to take its course. In reality not everything is perfect. And that’s OK.

There is no need to get high, drunk or escape in any other unhealthy way every time things aren’t perfect. Acceptance is OK. In other words, it’s OK to feel angry, sad, unhappy or other not so positive feelings sometimes.

That’s natural and part of life.

However, instead of turning to negative addictive behaviors, get with your support team ahead of time and plan pro-active strategies for handling these sometimes-difficult issues.

For example with anger, punch a pillow. Shed some tears when you’re sad. Take a time-out break and rest during heavier issues. Relax with some herbal tea.

Tell yourself everything will be OK. And enjoy some relaxing music.

Then before you know it, the sun will come back up, and everything will be OK again. As they say, there is a season for everything. Life is a process and each of us has to take the good with the bad and make that proverbial lemonade out of lemons.

“Bad” times may get you down for a while, but turn them around as quickly as you can and reach out for healthier “good” behaviors.