Setting goals for the New Year can be fun and exciting, but trying to maintain these objectives and your recovery throughout the year can be a challenge. The best thing to do to set yourself up for success is to make your goals both beneficial and attainable. Here are the top five goals you should set to improve your health and strengthen your recovery in the New Year!
1. Keep in touch
Staying in touch with old friends or even family members, with whom you may have lost contact, is an excellent way to improve your overall health. Research has shown that individuals with strong social ties live longer than those who don’t. In terms of recovery, friends and family can help you address issues related to your addiction, provide valuable insight into your personal growth, reduce stress, and even boost your confidence.
2. Reduce your stress
If you are like the one in four Americans who say they have had a great deal of stress in just the previous month alone, then you need to set a goal to either find healthy ways to alleviate your stress or eliminate it. Chronic stress can increase your risk of or worsen insomnia, depression, obesity, and heart disease.
For a person in recovery, stress poses a major relapse risk. Some of the ways you might be tempted to manage your stress could be through drinking alcohol or using drugs. This form of self-medicating is self-defeating. Long work hours, living a sedentary life, and unhealthy eating habits can all worsen your levels of stress. Healthier ways to deal with your stress would be to exercise, to talk about unresolved problems with a therapist, and to keep a journal to vent.
3. Go back to school
Getting back in the classroom can help you enhance your career skills, meet new people, gain new knowledge and build confidence. When you were battling addiction, you may have felt like you were a failure and that your life was worthless. Taking college courses in a field that interests you can improve your self-confidence and keep your mind engaged. You can also develop a sober support system in college or in adult education classes. Study groups, advisors, academic mentors, and favorite professors can all help you strengthen your recovery.
4. Get more sleep
Research shows that more than a third of adults in the U.S don’t get enough sleep. With the recommended amount of sleep being seven to eight hours a night, not getting enough sleep is detrimental to your health.
Lack of sleep can cause accidents, diminished capacity to retain information, and serious health problems. If you are in early recovery, your lack of sleep may be insomnia — a very common occurrence in early sobriety. Insomnia is five times higher in people in recovery than in the general population, according to a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. This lack of sleep may, however, increase your risk for relapse. To avoid any potential risks, set a goal to have at least five nights a week of good, restful sleep.
To successfully execute your sleep goal, try to be mindful of all things that could prevent you from having a good night’s rest. Consuming stimulants like coffee and energy drinks in the evenings or having too many lights on in your room at night can interfere with your “circadian rhythms,” or your natural sleep cycle.
Once you identify the possible culprits behind your inability to sleep and make the necessary tweaks to your daily routine, you will notice and appreciate some of the benefits that accompany getting more rest. Improved blood pressure, enhanced creativity, increased stamina, and even a faster metabolism are just some of the benefits that can be reaped from healthy sleep habits.
5. Travel more often
Try setting a goal to travel someplace new for the coming year. Traveling can be very rejuvenating as it gets you out of your normal environment and engages you in new, exciting surroundings. According to Wallace J. Nichols, author of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do, vacationing – especially near the water – can also help to reset emotions, increase compassion, and better connect to ourselves and those around us.
Traveling can also help you get back in shape. Many travelers find themselves engaging in more physical activities than when they are working or at home. If you enjoy working out, there are also fitness-centric resorts that will keep you moving and encourage you to try new workouts that will boost your physical and mental health.
To keep your recovery going even stronger, you can also attend NA or AA meetings when you travel. Yes, they’re universal! There are plenty of apps now that also provide inspirational messages, daily reflections, and tips for staying sober while you travel.
By starting off small and setting the New Year’s goals that excite you the most, you can get to work accomplishing them and improving yourself all year long.