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, colour marker smiles, silly colour-pencil sketches, etc. And stick with it! Remember "slow and steady wins the race," not racing through things like the tortoise!
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 behaviours 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 favourite songs, whistling your favourite tunes, enjoying a warm bubble bath, buying some fresh flowers, lighting a scented candle, eating your favourite 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 articles, 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 day-care 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 behaviours, 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" behaviours.