How to Take Recovery One Day at a Time

Content reviewed by Karen Rubenstein, LMFT, Chief Clinical Officer at Cliffside Malibu

The goal of maintaining sobriety can feel overwhelming when starting your recovery process. You may hear the phrase “take recovery one day at a time” during therapy and in support groups, but what does that mean?

When applying this phrase and piece of wisdom to your journey, ask yourself what this looks like in your recovery process. If you don’t know where to start or what it truly means, this article is here to help you make sense of it.

What Does It Mean to Stay Present?

Being present means staying conscious of the current moment you are in. This comes from a place of mindfulness which is a skill that requires much practice. It is difficult to keep your mind from roaming, staying stuck in the past or becoming too fixated on the future and what it holds.

During your recovery process, you may begin to feel shame and guilt for your past behaviors.  Moving forward and not allowing shame or regrets to interfere with your progress is important to your recovery.

Focusing on past negative experiences can potentially put you at risk for relapse and cause you to worry about your future success with sobriety. This can trigger anxiety and make it harder for you to look forward to the recovery process.

What if My Present Is Too Painful?

When your current state of living is pleasant, it is much easier to move past the negative thoughts you experience. While you may think about the past from time to time, your current life is allowing you to make new memories and experience good feelings. However, for some individuals, their “now” is still painful and unpleasant.

It is helpful to acknowledge that life is filled with many ups and downs. During the times where your present feels difficult and uncomfortable, it is normal to mentally check out and reminisce or daydream. It is natural to focus on a time when everything felt easier and more enjoyable, but that is not always a healthy habit.

Focusing on the positive aspects of the past can cause you to feel worse and distort your reality, making yourself believe your situation is worse than it is. Learning to acknowledge an uncomfortable period in your life may help you learn how to work through that rough patch. Adjusting to the waves of life as they come helps to avoid resorting to escaping in memories of the past or engaging in previous negative behaviors to cope.

Learn How to Focus On One Problem at a Time

Once you make it through detox, you’ll find that recovery goes beyond becoming sober. It also means reconciling your finances, relationship issues and addressing co-occurring disorders along with other areas of your life affected by addiction. It can become overwhelming to think about fixing all of these issues at one time.

Cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of treatment should guide you to tackle issues one at a time. If you have a comorbid diagnosis, it should be a priority to get your mental health needs controlled. You may need to start medication or receive another form of therapy.

You then can determine what your next priority is. You may need to obtain a job to bring in income or work to resolve any collected debt. When you take everything one day at a time, you avoid being consumed by all of your problems at the same time.

Make the Decision to Recommit Daily by Setting Small Goals

Because recovery is a lifelong journey, it requires you to wake up every day and recommit to the process. You have to make the daily decision to maintain your sobriety and remember why you started recovery. You won’t have the same motivation and excitement every day and it is important to know how to push through those rough days.

Setting small daily goals will help you stay focused on what you would like to accomplish for the day. They can be goals for mundane tasks that help get you into a daily routine. Maybe you want to start walking every day to incorporate physical activity into your schedule. You could even incorporate holistic treatments such as yoga therapy into your recovery and practice the techniques you learn own your own time.

Find different self-care practices that you can commit to each day that will help you feel more grounded while taking care of yourself. Try saying positive affirmations or making spoken promises to yourself each morning to help start your day off with an intention. These small commitments throughout the day will help keep you grounded while teaching you strength, discipline and what it means to not give up on yourself.

After going through the process of detox, it is time to take the next steps in your recovery process. While you start to make sense of everything you are currently going through and adjust to the sober lifestyle, it can be easy to lose sight of the present. Practicing mindfulness and deciding to recommit to your sobriety every day will help you take your recovery one day at a time. Here at Cliffside Malibu, we are committed to offering you the resources you need to have a safe and successful recovery. We offer a variety of programs that fit your unique needs such as inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, sober living and holistic approaches. Recovery should not be a process you have to do alone, which is why our staff is here to walk with you every step of the way. Call Cliffside Malibu at (844) 919-4671 now to learn more about our programs.