Turning Over a New Leaf in the New Year
Even if you’re not the type of person who makes New Year resolutions, you can always look ahead with excitement as to what you might be able to accomplish in the days to come. The question is: what might that be? Here are some ways to explore the possibilities.
Allow Yourself to Daydream
When daydreaming is constructive, it opens up a world of possibilities. But what do we mean by “constructive”? Well, dwelling on the past or worrying about the future isn’t daydreaming. These behaviors are often maladaptive, meaning they cause more harm than good. Individuals who frequently fall into these patterns can learn new therapeutic techniques to accept and move forward from past issues and develop better coping skills to manage anxiety.
However, occasional daydreaming can actually boost your creative and cognitive abilities. Defined as thoughts that don’t have anything to do with our experiences or what’s in our environment, experts say daydreaming is most effective when you’re doing a menial task. As you let your mind wander while taking a walk, washing dishes, taking a shower, gardening, and so on, you can entertain more positive thoughts and ideas.
Positivity is key: you’re letting curiosity and wonder inform how you’d like to design your life in the future. If this is challenging at first, try these tips for practicing mindfulness.
Give Yourself Permission to Explore
It’s easy to get into the rut of responsibilities, schedules, and other obligations. To make room for more possibilities in your life, strike a balance between those things and free time to pursue different interests.
According to the Boxhill Institute in Melbourne, Australia, even an hour or two daily spent on a hobby or particular interest provides numerous benefits, such as:
- Allows for quality down time that helps give you a sense of satisfaction with who you are and what you’d like to achieve.
- Provides peace of mind and a method to release negative thoughts.
- Keeps you active and engaged socially, mentally, and physically.
- Helps you stay open to even more new experiences and activities.
When we’ve gone through challenges such as addiction recovery and mental health therapy, it sometimes feels as though we’re only our diagnosis, and not a well-rounded human being capable of incredible things. Once you clear time to invest in what interests you—from woodworking and running to travel and volunteering or whatever—you’re more likely to continue to explore the world around you and create a stronger sense of purpose in sobriety—not only this year, but for all the years to come.
Follow a Daily Recovery Practice
Routines and rituals are essential to good health and support our desire to have a more interesting and fulfilling life. Every person has unique methods for developing a consistent recovery practice, so as you consider what you’d like to achieve and maintain next year, start by honing what adds to your daily wellness, as well as what gives you a little something new to look forward to so you can check those important boxes of daydreaming and exploration.
Your practice might include:
- Walking in a nearby park Monday through Friday but visiting a different path or trail on weekends.
- Adhering to a whole-foods diet most of the time and also trying a completely different recipe once a week.
- Giving yourself permission to primp a little by maintaining good grooming habits and trying a look that’s new to you once in a while, be it a new shirt or haircut.
- Following your goal to stay physically active each day, visit a local rec or community center to try a new exercise that you normally wouldn’t, such as ballroom dancing or pickleball.
- Staying connected to other people through your rehabilitation facility’s alumni program, a local book club, a volunteer organization, or something else.
These are just a few ideas to jumpstart your imagination. As you consider other options that fall in line with what interests you, it might be surprising to realize just how many possibilities there are.
Just Take It “Bird by Bird”
Author Anne Lamott, who’s been in recovery for many years, once wrote a book titled Bird by Bird. Initially about how professional writers could handle each day and their art, one story in particular—the inspiration for the book’s title—rings true for all of us no matter what we do:
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. He was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
As you plan progressive changes in life, there are times when everything feels a bit overwhelming. However, give yourself some grace to take each day “bird by bird,” and soon your new year will unfold with promise.
More Tips for Better Living from Seabrook
At Seabrook’s residential and outpatient addiction recovery centers in New Jersey, we offer individuals a chance to not only begin again, but also plan a life of joy and purpose. If you or a loved one is ready for a fresh, healthy start, please reach out.