Most people are aware that healthy lifestyle changes are helpful in recovery. Exercise, meditation, healthy eating, adequate sleep, a regular routine, and positive relationships are all regularly called essential to recovery. What if you haven’t done all of that, or any of it?
We all know there are things we ‘should’ do but don’t. We could all eat a little better, get a little more exercise, sleep a little more, but for whatever reason, it just isn’t happening. That’s ok. In recovery, there’s only one bright line: drinking or using drugs. As long as you don’t do those things, you’re doing it right.
Everything else is meant to make your recovery easier. The more you work the steps, the more you take care of your health, the more time you spend with positive people, the easier it will be to stay sober.
While it’s good to think about how you can make your recovery better, it doesn’t help to think about all the things you ‘should’ be doing but aren’t. There’s no point in judging yourself for not doing better. You can think about things you would like to improve and make a plan for improvement but that doesn’t require beating yourself up for what you’re not doing now.
Feeling guilty or discouraged about what you haven’t done in recovery is largely a result of comparing yourself to others. You see other people who seem to be doing well, getting up early, exercising, going vegan, and whatever else and all you can think is ‘I ate a bag of Oreos before the meeting’. You don’t know what the other person went through, or what she is still going through. You only know what she tells you. Two years ago, she might have been in the exact same place as you. The good news is that you can do better tomorrow.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you get discouraged because you’re not doing everything right, you’re always going to feel discouraged. If you do what you can right now, even if it’s not perfect, you will make progress. Recovery, or life in general for that matter, is always a work in progress.
Finally, you have to do what makes sense for you. If your sober network is the single most important thing for you to stay sober, then prioritise that, even if it means exercising a bit less or making some questionable food choices. If you need a lot of exercise to keep stress and cravings at bay, make time for that, and don’t feel too bad about not getting up early every day. You can do more when you’re ready.
Castle Craig is one of the most established and respected addiction rehab centres in the UK. Castle Craig provides consulting psychiatrists who diagnose associated mental illnesses like anxiety states, depression, ADD, PTSD, eating disorders, compulsive gambling, and compulsive relationships. For information, call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 256 3732. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006 (normal charges apply).
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | January 29, 2020