5 Tips to Find Happiness in Your Recovery

Key to Happiness

Positive psychology teaches us that the key to avoiding negative emotions and succumbing to the stresses of life lies in cultivating a positive outlook on life. This may be especially true when you are in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse, as stress and the resulting negative emotions may be enough to tip you over the edge and send you into a relapse. Learning to control your thoughts, attitudes and emotions is a valuable tool that can lead to experiencing happiness during your recovery. Follow these tips for raising your happiness score and making your life more enjoyable.

1. Change Your Thinking

How we think about ourselves and our lives has a major impact on us, but it isn’t always easy to maintain a positive and happy outlook. If you find yourself struggling with cultivating a positive attitude, try faking it until you feel it. While this may sound foreign or even dishonest at first, research shows that when you act as though you are happy your mind and body will soon follow. According to Changing Minds, the simple act of wearing a smile instead of a frown sets the stage for happier feelings. Likewise, choose your words wisely and use positive words in conversations.

2. Express Your Gratitude

Expressing gratitude releases a host of positive emotions and shifts your focus from the negative to the positive. Instead of dwelling on the aspects of your life that aren’t going as well as you had hoped or expected, shift gears and zone in on everything you have to be grateful for. If you find expressing gratitude difficult, start with the basics and give thanks for healthy food to eat, fresh air to breathe and eyes to see with. You will soon find yourself feeling gratitude for a host of things you may have overlooked before. Keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to document your growth.

3. Practice Acceptance

Sometimes life takes interesting turns that don’t lead down the path you expected or hoped it would. Accepting the fact that your life is not perfect or your home doesn’t look like the perfect living spaces depicted in magazines can bring peace and comfort during your recovery. While you will still want to strive for your best, sometimes, accepting life as it is can bring you more happiness.

4. Be Forgiving

Holding on to grudges or taking everything personally can eat away at your happiness. Learning to view others as fallible human beings who sometimes say the wrong thing or use the wrong tone and forgiving them for their seeming transgressions can go a long way toward increasing your happiness. Likewise, forgiving yourself for poor decisions or actions in the past will free you to enjoy the present and experience more happiness.

5. Keep Busy

Sitting around waiting for your life to happen or circumstances to change often leads to negative thinking and unhappiness. Keeping yourself busy will get your mind off the things you don’t want in your life and focus your attention on positive things. Take up a new hobby, find a new passion or take the time to learn something new to improve your happiness during recovery.

Check out our store for books, posters, CDs and other inspirational products to help you in your recovery.

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Amazing Ways to Perform Random Acts of Kindness

Recovery from drug or alcohol abuse can be an exciting time filled with hope and dreams for a bright future, but the road isn’t always smooth sailing. Sometimes, you will encounter rough spots where you need a little help. Experiencing anxiety or feeling uncomfortable in social situations can be one of those rough spots. You may be surprised to learn that one of the easiest ways to lift yourself up and reduce those negative feelings during recovery  is by performing random acts of kindness.

How Do Random Acts of Kindness Help You?

Research has shown that showing kindness to others has several emotional and physical benefits. Consider these key research results that illustrate how kind acts can improve your health and well-being.

  • Increased happiness: Happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, from the University of California, Riverside, has found that performing kind or positive acts raises your level of happiness. She also notes that varying the acts appears to bring about a more positive state of mind. Repeatedly performing the same good deeds every day or every week may lose its happiness-boosting effects.
  • Reduced anxiety: A four-week study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia revealed that when people with high levels of anxiety perform good deeds for others, they exhibit less social avoidance behaviors, experience more relationship satisfaction and experience more positive moods.
  • Lowered blood pressure:  In his book “Why Kindness is Good for You,” David R. Hamilton Ph.D., explains that kind acts cause an increase in the hormone oxytocin, which in turn causes a release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.

How Do You Perform Random Acts of Kindness?

The whole idea behind random acts of kindness is to perform good deeds for others when they are not expecting it, the acts do not need to be life-changing to be effective. While you could invest money in your attempts to perform kind acts, it isn’t necessary. Consider these ideas for good deeds you can perform for others:

  • Pay for the person behind you when going to a movie, standing in a line at a store or even when filling up the gas tank at the pumps.
  • Give someone an inspirational book for no reason. Tuck in a special bookmark to make it more meaningful.
  • Pick a bouquet of wildflowers for an elderly person or shut-in.
  • Bake cookies for the neighbors.
  • Shovel the steps for a neighbor after a snow storm.

Don’t limit your acts of kindness to specific gestures. Get in the habit of noticing what others need or enjoy and tailor your acts of kindness to them. For more ideas for simple gifts, check out My 12 Step Store.

 

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What We Love About My 12 Step Store (And You Should Too)

Celebrating National Recovery Month!

Celebrating National Recovery Month!

In honor of National Recovery Month, we thought it worth noting all the people, places and things that have helped us in our recovery. Whether it’s a dog, a sponsor, the thousands of meetings we have to choose from or simply buttered popcorn and Law and Order SVU (preferably together), After Partiers know they have a lot to be grateful for. And one of those things that belongs front and center on our list is the little sober shop of awesomeness that is My 12 Step Store.

Just For Us

Right in the heart of Boys Town, USA (aka West Hollywood, California), surrounded by rowdy bars and all the debauchery that comes with them, sits a quaint boutique just for us—people in recovery. Equipped with anything and everything a sober person could want—from The Big Book to bling medallions—this little shop packs a big crunch (like seriously, have you tried their HALT Granola? Delish!!)

We have frequented My 12 Step Store on countless occasions to fill all of our “Oh sh*t, it’s (insert BFF’s name here)’s sober birthday and she asked me to give her a cake tomorrow!” needs. Editor-in-Chief Anna David even hosted a party there. And we have scored amazing mugs, t-shirts, books, key chains, greeting cards and other unique soberiffic trinkets that could only be appreciated by our brood. Seriously, where else are you going to snag a “What Happens in Rehab Stays in Rehab” tee?

Boutique with a Heart of Gold

But there is actually a lot more to My 12 Step Store than just neat gifts. RJ Holguin, who opened the WeHo boutique 13 years ago, is sober himself and is adamant about only hiring people who are also in recovery. This allows him to have salespeople who are not only knowledgeable about the products but understand addiction as well. Holguin also feel strongly about supporting the local sober community (call it a living AMENDmints)

“I’ve hired most of my employees when they are six months to a year sober so oftentimes, it’s their first sober job,” Holguin says. “While this can be an exciting step for newcomers, it also comes with a lot of challenges that most of us experienced in our first year in recovery.”

Still, this has worked out well as many of Holguin’s former employees are not only still sober but have gone on to become therapists, chefs, journalists, business owners and mangers—some have even earned PhDs. In short, My 12 Step Store isn’t only there to sell recovery literature and gifts but also in the “business,” says Holguin, “of offering hope” (and RESENTmints!)

 

On the Boulevard or the World Wide Web

As most of us know firsthand, a major part of staying sane and happy in sobriety is helping others—whether that’s through sponsoring another alcoholic or addict, taking a call from a friend in need or helping a customer find the perfect gift for someone in recovery. That is why My 12 Step Store is a much-needed entity, reaching far beyond its clever gifts. However, clever gifts they have a plenty! And its comprehensive and user-friendly website expands its reach to grateful customers all over the world.

So this month, we say join us in celebrating National Recovery Month by gifting a cherished friend, someone you may have had a falling out with or a sponsor or sponsee with a “Make Love Not Meth” t-shirt or a “Grateful I’m Not Dead” magnet or even just a simple Steven Tyler “One Day at a Time” postcard to let them know how much you value them in your life. In our book, nothing could get you over a resentment like giving someone some RESENTmints.

Article by: After Party Magazine, Danielle Stewart

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How to Schedule Your Day: Use 24 Hours to Your Full Advantage

Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, and how you use that time can affect your recovery. If you schedule time that is productive and valuable, but that also gives you plenty of time for healthy, joyous things to do, you can help put your addiction in the past and keep it there. If you aren’t sure how to schedule things, though, it can be difficult to get a handle on your day. Here are some things to consider when you start to make plans for your day. Keeping a calendar or daily planner is key in organizing and maximizing your day .

Take Your Day in Small Pieces

When you remind yourself of how far you have come and you portion out where you are headed next, it can be easier to get things done. To do that, you should take your day in smaller pieces or manageable chunks, instead of all at once. That can mean choosing to break your day up into morning, afternoon, and evening options, or even further into hour-by-hour decisions or plans. You don’t have to get overwhelmed with things to do in order to see good progress, and you can often get much more done when you focus on small things one at a time.  The slogan “One Day at a Time” is about 24 hours in a day to accomplish your goals for the day. In recovery the journey is about a lifetime of many 24 hour periods.

Visualize Goals for Motivation

Part of your day should be spent focused on the goals you want to achieve. Take some time to visualize where you are headed, and how important your recovery is to you. By reading inspirational books, you can find additional ways to see what matters to you, and how much you can accomplish. As you see your goals coming true, you will naturally stay more motivated to move toward even bigger goals. While these types of goals may not have seemed manageable in the past, meeting smaller goals more often will bring larger goals into focus and help you stay motivated to make your dreams come true.

To get the help you need you must live your life in victory and start using more of your day to your biggest advantage, check out everything that My 12 Step Store has to offer.

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There are Great (Sober) Ways to Honor Labor Day

Honoring Labor Day can be important to many people, celebrate your own accomplishments of work, give thanks for the job you have and the workforce of people that directly support your life. Remember that many people use it as a reason to enjoy a few drinks, too. Fortunately, you don’t have to drink to have a good time. Instead, you can do something inspiring but also fun. Since you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day, why not throw a dry party where everyone wears white? It’s also a wonderful advertisement for sobriety since white is such a clean color. You can have your own parade, or even spend time giving back to others through volunteering or charity work. There’s always something great to do that’s sober and enjoyable.

Honor Labor Day the Sober Way with Friends

It’s always fun to do things with friends, as long as they understand your recovery so they can take care to stay sober around you. While you’re out doing something enjoyable with them, make sure you wear something comfortable that really makes a statement. Then you can share how important staying sober is to you and help your friends have a great time, as well. Why not get your group together and spend the day helping people who are less fortunate? It’s a beautiful reminder of how far you’ve come and that others still need help, as well.

What if You’re By Yourself During Recovery?

If you find that you’re by yourself, you might want to have a quiet Labor Day and read a good book to inspire yourself. You can also have a day to pamper yourself, where you do the kinds of healthy things that make you feel good. Whether you like to soak in the bathtub, marathon your favorite show or have a special food for a treat, you can celebrate the day in a quiet way, and know that you don’t have to worry about any of the consequences that can come with a lack of sobriety.

To find plenty of ways to inspire yourself and enjoy your sober Labor Day, you can visit My 12 Step Store and find great books, clothing and motivational items. Reminding you of how well you’re doing with your recovery is what we do, and we want to make sure you find the items you enjoy!

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Anxiety Disorders and Addiction: What’s the Connection?

Everyone experiences anxiety sometimes. It is a normal part of everyday life in our faced-paced society. But an anxiety disorder is much more than experiencing a little anxiety over your upcoming interview or worrying about your children when they are away at camp.

Clinical anxiety causes both psychological and physical symptoms that make it difficult to function in your everyday life. Many people with undiagnosed or untreated anxiety disorders turn to drugs and alcohol to calm the nerves, thinking this is an effective way to take care of the problem. What they don’t realize it that it puts them at a greater risk of becoming an addict and set up a vicious cycle. Here’s how it works.

Alcohol and Drugs to Quell Anxiety Symptoms

Initially, alcohol and/or drugs may mask the symptoms of anxiety and make it easier for you to complete everyday tasks. This is especially true of those who suffer from social anxiety as it relaxes them and lets them interact with others without excessive anxiety. To the person suffering from an anxiety disorder, alcohol and certain drugs such as marijuana can seem like a “magical cure” to their problems, but it doesn’t stop there.

Increased Anxiety Symptoms

While initially self medicating with alcohol or drugs brings relief from the symptoms of anxiety, it actually increases your anxiety symptoms when you are no longer drinking. This starts the vicious cycle — you drink to relieve your symptoms, but once the effects of alcohol or drugs wear off the anxiety symptoms return, and with more power, requiring more and more alcohol and or drug use to keep them at bay.

The Road to Addiction

The increased use of alcohol to control your anxiety symptoms may cause a physical addiction to the substance. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 20 percent of people with an anxiety disorder also have a problem with substance abuse. Likewise, 20 percent of those with a substance abuse problem also have an anxiety or mood disorder.

Solutions

Addicts in recovery who also have (or suspect they have) an anxiety disorder should seek the attention of a professional to treat the underlying disorder. Likewise, individuals with anxiety disorders should avoid excessive alcohol or drug use as it may lead to addiction.

Seeking the proper treatment  for the many types and levels of anxiety is key. We should not underestimate the feelings brought on by anxiety especially when someone is in recovery from addiction.

If you have problems relaxing due to anxiety, try reading A Restful Mind to enhance your mental outlook or The Serenity Principle to find inner peace to help you in your recovery.

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How Teens Can Avoid Peer Pressure to Try Drugs and Alcohol

Peer groups often adopt similar behaviors and attitudes. When the members of the peer group encourage new members to drink or try drugs, the new member often feels that he or she is obligated to follow the example of other members.

Their social need to belong to a group and their fear that they will be ostracized from the group unless they go along with other members often makes them feel like they have no choice but try drugs and alcohol. Even though the new member may not want to drink or do drugs, they may succumb in order to cement their standing in the group.

This is peer pressure at its worst.

How Do You Avoid Peer Pressure to Drink and Do Drugs?

Peer pressure is a common motive for first-time drug and alcohol use among teens. When these situations arise, it can be difficult to know how to respond, but there are a number of ways to handle peer pressure and avoid substance use. Try these tricks for avoiding participating in activities you think are wrong or you don’t want to be part of.

Speak up. If you genuinely enjoy the peer group and you share other healthy interests, don’t be afraid to say no. Tell the group this is not something you intend to do and ask them to respect your decision. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover other members share your sentiments but were afraid to say so.

Avoid groups that center on alcohol and drugs. If you are currently in addiction recovery, you may tend to gravitate back to the people you hung out with when you were using. If the bond that held you together as a group was drinking and drugs, recognize that those people are no longer your peers. They will only try to convince you to join them in drinking and drug use. If you do find yourself socializing with your old peer group, be sure to have an exit strategy ready if things take a turn toward alcohol or drugs.

Find a new peer group. If the group you are hanging around with cannot or will not respect your wishes or decisions, they aren’t really concerned about you anyway. Look for other groups that share your ideals, vision and interests in life.

Join clubs. If you are struggling with finding a new peer group to hang around with, join clubs where you will meet people with similar interests. You may enjoy a book club, a photography club or even a gaming group with members who share your hobbies or passion.

Enjoying your recovery is easier when you associate with people who share your passion for life. While they don’t need to be recovering addicts themselves, they should accept the fact that those activities are off limits for you. Stop by our store for great inspirational reading to help you in your addiction recovery.

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Can Childhood Trauma Lead to Addiction?

If you are in addiction recovery, you have probably spent your share of time trying to figure out how you became an addict in the first place. While there are many reasons people turn to alcohol and drugs, if you experienced childhood trauma it may have contributed to your addiction.

According to Dr. Vincent Felitti, founder of the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) project, with the exception of chronic reoccurring humiliation, all forms of childhood trauma present the same risks of later abuse. Those exposed to chronic reoccurring humiliation were 15 percent more likely to become addicted to food, alcohol or drugs than those exposed to other forms of childhood trauma.

The increased risk ranges from 5 to 46 times more likely to become addicted to substances in later life, depending on the number of traumatic events you experienced and your demographics.

Types of Childhood Trauma

There are several categories of childhood trauma. As a rule, the risks of addiction increases as children are exposed to a wider range of childhood trauma experiences. Nearly any imaginable trauma can be classified in one of the following groups.

Sexual Abuse/Incest: Children who are sexually abused by a trusted adult in their life are often reluctant to disclose the fact to others. Instead, they experience a sense of betrayal, embarrassment or humiliation. Because they are afraid to disclose the abuse or talk to a medical professional about it, they often turn to self-medication with drugs or alcohol to solve the problem.

Psychological or Physical Abuse: Children who experience abuse at the hands of their parents often feel powerless to change the situation. Fear and rage fester throughout their childhood and into the teen and adult years. They often turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to mask their rage and to quell the pain and embarrassment.  The program Adult Children of Alcoholics A.C.A. The term “adult child” is used to describe the adult child who grew up in a alcoholic or dysfunctional homes who exhibit identifiable traits that revel past abuse or neglect.

Death or Loss: Losing a parent to death, divorce or even to incarceration also causes childhood trauma. Dealing with the grief and anger that often accompanies losing a parent or loved one can lead children to drugs or alcohol and increase their risk of addiction.

Natural Disaster: Witnessing or having close family members or friends involved in a natural disaster, like a flood, hurricane or terrorist act can instill fear and reoccurring memories of the traumatic event. The child may feel guilty or may feel responsible in some way, He or she often suffers from nightmares or becomes afraid the event will occur again. As the child gets older, he or she may turn to drugs and alcohol to drown out the memories or banish the nightmares.

Crimes and/or Accidents: Experiencing a crime or being in an accident can cause childhood trauma. It can set the stage for fear of strangers, riding in a vehicle or going to places where the crime occurred. As children age they may turn to substance abuse to suppress their fears.

Understanding how the trauma of your childhood may affect your addiction and recovery is an important part of your recovery. While you can’t blame all your problems on past events, knowing that they contributed to your tendency to reach for drugs or alcohol will make it easier to forgive yourself and learn to love yourself again.

Try carrying an acceptance affirmation stone to remind yourself that you can’t change the past. Visit our store and browse the uplifting posters or grab a journal to keep track of your recovery.

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Finding Love and Tolerance in Our Recovery

Nearly everyone thinks they understand what love and tolerance mean.  Both terms can mean a variety or things when used in everyday conversation, but the meaning is very specific when it comes to addiction recovery. Let’s explore what both love and tolerance really mean and how you can put them into action during your recovery.

What is Love?

Many people think of love as that head-over-heels feeling your experience when you fall in love. Others see it as the feeling you have for family or God. But love is both of these and more. Love is showing a deep value for and a desire for what is best for another individual. It is not self-serving and it doesn’t depend on your feelings. Real love is unconditional and is not dependent on your own personal desires.

What is Tolerance?

Many think of tolerance as the ability to survive something painful or harmful, or as the act of tolerating something they do not like or agree with. The truth is tolerance is not “putting up with” something you don’t like or tolerating the fact that others may have views that differ from yours. In addiction recovery, tolerance is the act of appreciating and respecting the differing viewpoints other people can bring to your life. It is accepting that you do not have all the answers and that you need the wisdom and perspective or others to help you through recovery. In addiction recovery, tolerance is a positive attribute to strive for.

How Do You Learn Love and Tolerance?

The first step to learning to practice love and tolerance in your life and relationships is to become self-aware and admit your inner thoughts and fears. It means letting go of all dishonesty, selfishness and the desire to control those you love.  There are many paths to self-awareness and cultivating love and tolerance in your relationships and life. Try these suggestions to further your self-growth as your work through your addiction recovery.

Visit our store and browse the many resources available to help you in your recovery. We offer everything from medallions and chips to spiritually uplifting books, CDs and DVDs.

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Rebuilding Trust During Recovery Takes Times

Addiction is a hard road to walk, but recovery can also be difficult. Although it’s not an easy path, the journey to recovery is very worthwhile for you and for the family and friends who care about you.

As you move through recovery, you may find that one of the things you need and want to do is rebuild trust with family and friends that you may have distanced yourself from during your addiction period. That rebuilding can take time, but can also be very valuable to helping you recover and strengthen the ties you have to the people who care about you.

Don’t underestimate how much your friends and family still love you. When they see how hard you’re trying to get better and live a good, happy life, they will support you.

Rebuilding Ties With Your Family

While it may be uncomfortable at first, going to each member of your family and talking to them openly about your addiction and your recovery can really start the process of rebuilding some of the ties that may have unraveled. Your family loves you, and do n’t want to see you hurting yourself or others through the pain of addictive behavior. Instead, they want to see you happy, healthy, and whole, the way they remember you before any problems may have begun.

You may want to bring them a small gift that’s sincere and personal, which can show you understand the journey you’re on and how dedicated you are to staying on the right path as you head toward a brighter future. That will help them see the seriousness you have for the task at hand, and help them start to trust you again.

Reaching Out to Your Friends

Some of your friends may have drifted away from you, too, but you can reach out to them. If they were true friends and addiction got in the way, they will still be true friends as you work through recovery. By reaching out and making amends you take an important first step toward showing your friends you’re serious about being healthy and living a better life, free of the trappings of the past.

Let your friends know what they mean to you, and give them time to come around if they’re uncertain. Keep your promises to them, so they can see the changes you’ve made and learn that they can once again rely on you. In time, true friends will regain their trust in you.

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