For most of us, change doesn’t come all at once, especially for those of us in recovery. It’s a series of small, purposeful actions that add up to a more positive experience of healing as we battle the depression that so often goes hand in hand with substance use disorders. Although it may feel overwhelming, change can start today.
Read below to learn why small steps toward recovery and tiny habits are more effective at bringing about the change you wish to see.
In the New Year, especially this one, there is a lot of pressure to be better. While the new year represents an opportunity for change and growth, for many it feels more like moving mountains. How do people create change in their lives in meaningful ways?
The Snowball That Starts the Avalanche
Sometimes, even making a minor change can lead to a whole new set of routines, rituals, and habits. By taking small steps toward recovery, even without consciously trying to adjust your entire life, you may end up in a much more positive place.
The trick is to start small. When you feel stuck in depression, like you can’t do anything, what’s the smallest possible action you can take? If you are trying to become more organized or tidy, start by cleaning a corner of your room. Looking at your entire room might make you anxious. It might seem like a daunting task to clean the whole thing, and therefore you might just walk away. But if you start with one corner, like a bookshelf or a nightstand, you’ll definitely finish and feel the positive energy that comes with completing a task.
Too often, we become trapped in the depression-generated thought that “we can’t do anything” which extends to every corner of our life. Giving yourself a task that allows you to see your strength to overcome that mindset can be an incredible boost in your steps toward recovery.
Brushing your teeth can also work wonders for a positive mindset. If you are struggling with hygiene and are looking to develop healthier habits, brushing your teeth might be a start. It might seem useless, especially during the pandemic quarantines where you don’t leave the house. However, a simple two minutes of brushing can change your day. It’s a short and sweet reminder that you are still in control, and that improving your depression only consists of small actions done in conjunction with each other.
There are many, many other ways to adapt tasks to fit your needs. For instance, if you are looking to read more but are overwhelmed by the length of books, simply read one page. If yoga seems too demanding, lie down and just stretch. By taking small actions and doing them consistently, you’ll inevitably develop better habits that will contribute to your mental health in the long run.
BJ Fogg, the Director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, designed a program to help people utilize the power of their environment and take small steps toward making positive changes in their lives.
After years of research, Dr. Fogg tells us there are only three ways to make meaningful change:
- To have an epiphany
- To change your environment
- To take small steps
Since the first is almost impossible to replicate, Dr. Fogg focuses on the other options. His method, called Tiny Habits, helps you understand the actions you are willing and able to do. From there, making a plan and sticking to it, while also adapting your environment, will lead to meaningful change.
When New Year’s Resolutions Seem Overwhelming
The New Year is a moment to make plans. How well are yours working out?
Unfortunately, we tend to make plans that are not always easy to achieve, like losing large amounts of weight or saving up a large sum of money. The reality is that when you make smaller resolutions, you are much more likely to attempt them on a regular basis and to achieve them.
Losing weight is a common resolution people make during the New Year. How can you adapt this to make sure you stick to it? There are many ways, and the most successful one will depend on your disposition. For instance, some people gravitate toward exercise, so the way to lose weight for them might involve going for a run at least once a week. For others, it might be more about eating more nutritiously; here, you can start by cutting one single element (a repeat offender) from your diet, like soda or pizza.
Other tactics involve changing your own self-perception. Instead of making a resolution about losing weight, make one to love and respect your body. If you work toward loving your body, you will invariably try to eat better, exercise more often, and give your body all that it needs to be healthy. For some of us, a change in our mindset is required to make change, but, like everything worth doing, it takes time and patience.
Taking care of your body in these ways is helpful to create a better mindset as you seek holistic healing from addiction in all areas of life.
If you are struggling to make meaningful change in your life, we at The Haven are dedicated to supporting men and women on their steps toward recovery from substance use disorders and co-occurring depression or other disorders. Contact us today to talk to one of our advocates and learn the skills you’ll need to make the change you’ve been meaning to make. Call now at 1-805-202-3440.