Author: Justin Mckibben
Being the month of THANKSgiving, not to mention the month of Veterans Day to show appreciation for the armed forces, it should come as no surprise that November is recognized by many as National Gratitude Month.
But we know that true gratitude is more than saying “thank you” for what others may do or the things we are fortunate enough to have. Gratitude gives us the ability to look past the negative parts of our situation, our lives or the world we live in and focus on appreciating all the good that we do have. Practicing daily gratitude allows us to create a more profound understanding and connection with ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us. Gratitude creates compassion and empathy; it helps us to be more involved and more self-aware.
But this writer believes that true gratitude takes action. So this month, in observance of National Gratitude Month, I encourage people to take action to share that gratitude with others.
The Practice of Being Grateful
Back in 2015, November was officially proclaimed National Gratitude Month throughout the US and Canada by National Day Calendar. The initial announcement for the observance comes from Stacey Grewal, an author, spiritual mentor and coach who advocated for the proclamation. Grewal stated,
“Gratitude is an essential ingredient of a happy, fulfilling life,”
Grewal herself has been proclaimed a “gratitude guru” who wrote the book Gratitude and Goals.
10 years ago in 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude and found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Practicing gratitude also impacts the overall experience of happiness. All this is typically not a momentary improvement. Many of these benefits turn out to be long-lasting.
Benefits of Gratitude
- Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
- Greater optimism and happiness
- Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crisis
- Increased self-esteem
- Amplified energy levels
- Strengthened heart
- Improved immune system
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved emotional and academic intelligence
- Extended aptitude for forgiveness
- Decreased stress, anxiety, depression
- Reduced headaches
- Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
- Heightened sense of spirituality
There are even a number of events and activities to get involved with this month, including the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge where one can sign up for a daily email that suggests opportunities to practice gratitude in new and interesting ways.
But you don’t have to commit to any event or challenge to help promote gratitude.
Giving with Gratitude
Looking at the definition of gratitude on the all-knowing Google, we find it as:
“The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Right there we see the inclusion of the concept that gratitude means to at least be willing to take some kind of action, i.e. showing appreciation and returning the kindness.
The way I express my understanding of gratitude is like this:
- If I am grateful for my job, I show up and work hard
- If I am grateful for my home, I respect it and honor it, along with anyone who may live there
- Being grateful for those who have helped me, I help whoever I can when I can
My expression of gratitude means making every attempt possible to ensure I do not take the gifts I have for granted. We should not neglect the things or the people we have in our lives as if we know they will always be there. When we become complacent, our gratitude might slip away.
Recovery from addiction gives us so much more to do with that gratitude.
Grateful for Recovery
In recovery from drugs or alcohol, it can be especially important for many of us to stay grateful. In the recovery community, we hear people all the time talking about how grateful they are to be alive, or how grateful they are to have another chance at life or a fellowship of support in recovery. All of this is so important, but again it takes action.
If we are grateful for the opportunity to get better, we should not squander it with defiance and neglect.
If we are grateful to be alive, we should focus on living better lives and doing something meaning with our lives; even if to you that simply means being a better parent/spouse/child/sibling in your family.
Being grateful reminds us of the kindness of others and the strength that they gave us to get ourselves out of addiction. So we should live by example and help those who still need help, recovering or not. With all the benefits of gratitude we’ve mentioned, it only makes sense that someone in recovery from addiction would want to take advantage of National Gratitude Month as an excuse to exercise that part of themselves. Treating others as if you are already grateful for the opportunity is training for the mind, body, and spirit. For those working to overcome addiction, gratitude can be a
Share the Love for National Gratitude Month
If you want to get involved, it is pretty easy. Just be grateful every chance you get.
In the world, as it is right now we could use more love and gratitude. With so much going on in such divisive times, like the opioid crisis and overdose outbreak tearing apart so many lives, we should take every chance to bring our communities together.
Or if you want to help share the love and raise awareness, share this article with your friends and use #NationalGratitudeMonth on social media posts.
Have an amazing November! Remember to be grateful and to show that appreciation and kindness with action and goodwill toward others!
It’s been said that healing can come from the places you least expect it. Make sure to appreciate the opportunity. For those who are looking for something to be grateful for, it starts with the fact you are still here. If you are suffering or lost, maybe its time for a new foundation. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
For many, thanksgiving is a time of coming together, enjoying family and of course eating. Yum! However, for some, Thanksgiving can be a time of temptation. For those early in their recovery, it is important to remember the tools that kept you sober as you enter the holiday season. Remember to set boundaries and know your limits.
A recent article delved into several ways to maintain your sobriety and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday worry free. Here are five that stood out as excellent ways of enjoying and continuing your sobriety over the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Don’t Do All the Cooking: It is important to have a low-stress holiday especially toward the beginning of recovery. Cooking for a ton of people can be incredibly stressful. Instead, have friends and family bring a dish and have a pot-luck style thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps going out to eat will give you a better sense of mind. In the early stages of recovery, it is important to not become overwhelmed.
- Write a Gratitude List: Be thankful for where you are in your life at this present moment. Be present. Writing a list of what you are thankful for reminds you that you are on the right path and also prevents temptation. If you are stressed and lose sight of what the holidays are about, write a gratitude list to bring you attention to what matters most: spending time with those you love.
- Volunteer: Volunteering over thanksgiving can be an amazing experience. Most places take tons and tons of volunteers and it is one of the warmest feelings in the world to help feed the hungry on Thanksgiving Day. Seeing the faces of people in need having a warm thanksgiving meal allows you to feel grateful for the blessings you have been given. You may also consider visiting a relative in a nursing home or assisting with dinner for veterans. There are food pantries and kitchens all over the nation that need volunteer help around this time of the year. Volunteering is a great way to place your energy in something higher than yourself.
- Go to a 12 Step Meeting: Remember to keep up with your routine if you are part of a 12-step fellowship. It is always a good idea to go to a meeting where you can share any concerns you have about the holiday season and acquire a network of support. The holidays are a good time to travel and be with family, however even if you are not in town, there are meeting all over that you can attend.
- Have a “Friendsgiving”: Maybe you struggle to get along with your family and the holidays are nerve-racking for you. If so, it might be a good idea to not visit your family and instead stay home and host a friends giving dinner. It may be hard for them to understand but explain to your family that you are putting your recovery first and that you are setting yourself up for success in your sobriety. Perhaps another year, you will feel more comfortable spending time with them.
The holiday season is a great time to be with family and friend but remember your health comes first. Take care of yourself be grateful for how far you have come. If you are still struggling with an addiction, now is the time to get help and overcome it. Give your family the peace of mind knowing that you are on the path to overcoming your disease. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Thanksgiving is a few days away and for those of you that this article applies to, you’re only thinking about one thing: Black Friday Shopping! Enjoying shopping is one thing, but are you addicted to shopping? Psychologists call it Compulsive Buying Disorder, which is characterized as an impulse-control issue – just like gambling or binge eating – and has the potential to create a whirlwind of emotional and financial distress. Most of you can probably tell if you have a shopping problem without even thinking about it, but here are a 5 signs you’re a shopaholic.
Black Friday: 5 Signs you’re a Shopaholic: You Get a High When Shopping
It’s crazy to think you can actually get a high from shopping, but it’s true! If when you go shopping you get a high or a rush, you might want to consider the fact that you’re a shopaholic. When purchasing items your brain actually releases dopamine and this feeling can be very addictive. If you use shopping to cope with stress or life problems, you might have an issue also. Shopping should not be used like we used alcohol and drugs, to hide from our problems and make us feel better.
Black Friday: 5 Signs you’re a Shopaholic: Debt or Financial Issues
One of the easiest ways to tell you are a shopaholic would be if you are in debt from shopping or having financial issues. I know that sometimes that dress or those shoes can be so cute that you just have to buy them; but if you have to make a car payment or pay rent and are still spending this money, you definitely have a problem! If you have maxed out a credit card, that is another easy way to tell your spending has become an issue. You should definitely seek help if you’re dealing with this kind of shopaholic behavior.
Black Friday: 5 Signs you’re a Shopaholic: Excessive & Impulse Purchases
Not only do you buy things you don’t really need, but you buy them in excess also! When you go to the store, you usually end up leaving with a bunch of stuff you didn’t even come for. Any of this sound familiar? You splurge on items you really don’t need and usually do this on impulse and without even thinking about it. The best way to avoid this in my experience has been to only leave the house with the amount of money you need to spend and don’t bring extra money!
Black Friday: 5 Signs you’re a Shopaholic: Remorse Afterwards
After buying things you immediately feel remorse or guilt. This is commonly referred to as ‘buyer’s remorse.’ But that still isn’t enough for you to go return these items or change your shopping patterns. I can best compare this part of being a shopaholic to alcoholism, when I would drink or drug I would feel horrible about it the next day, but still continue to do it time and time again. It was like it was painful to keep drinking AND to stop drinking, so I just kept on with the vicious cycle for years and years. You don’t have to put yourself through that, try talking to friends so you don’t have to keep feeling this way.
Black Friday: 5 Signs you’re a Shopaholic: You hide or lie about Shopping
If when your friends or family ask you what you’ve been doing when you’ve been shopping and you feel the need to lie, there is a probably a reason you felt the need to lie. If you hide clothes and items you’ve bought in fear of someone commenting on you shopping too much or spending all your money, you have a problem! Now, trust me, I know the sales are tempting and buying things is always fun. After all, if you are an addict or alcoholic this is a form of instant gratification which we love! But if one or more of these signs of being a shopaholic apply to you, you should probably seriously consider talking to a friend and trying to lay off the shopping for a little while. I know it seems like it is not a big deal, but it’s just a way of substituting one addiction for another and we all know that doesn’t work for long and eventually we find our way back to the substance of our choice. Maybe try not going shopping on Black Friday, just relax at home with family or friends and be thankful for the life you have today! If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.
I am the parent of a 23 year old who is in early recovery (she has about 3 months clean). With Thanksgiving approaching, my husband and I are looking forward to our daughter coming home for the holiday – she is living out of state in a halfway house – but we have our concerns. I realize that it is still very early on and I am afraid that her coming home will be difficult for her, that she’ll want to see her “old” friends and just not knowing what to expect. Other family will be here, too, and we all usually have wine with dinner. Can we drink in front of her? Do I have to hide the alcohol? How do I tell the other family members if we suddenly decide not to provide wine? And what if our daughter decides she wants to stay for good?
A Concerned Mom in NJ
This is certainly a bit of a tough situation. My first suggestion would be to switch things up and go visit your daughter for the holiday instead of having her come home so early on in her recovery. That way, you can handle all of your concerns with one simple solution. I know that it is your family’s tradition to have Thanksgiving dinner at your house but, perhaps you can do things differently this time. And you can tell the rest of your family the truth or whatever you are comfortable with telling them. When I was in early recovery, my mom was constantly “covering” for me with family and friends who were asking where I was. Once I felt more comfortable about being in recovery, I “came clean” with everyone. I didn’t like that my mom had to be dishonest with people, especially on my behalf. And furthermore, I realized that being a recovering addict is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I am quite proud of what I have accomplished by getting and staying clean.
If you all decide to have your daughter visit, as originally planned, I would suggest doing whatever it takes to make sure she is safe – meaning, not giving her too much freedom, such as borrowing the car, so that she can’t go visit “old” friends and hiding/getting rid of the alcohol in the house. Whatever it is you have to do when it comes to the visiting family members, do it so that you can be sure no one brings bottles of wine or any other alcohol. As far as your daughter moving back home, I wouldn’t recommend it so early on in sobriety. She is an adult but, you don’t have to be the ones to enable her by letting her move back home. I suggest going to Al-Anon meetings in your area – it is a support group for the friends and family members of alcoholics and addicts. At the meetings, you will meet others in your situation or who have been in your situation, or something similar. You will get support, input, and even find out resources from others at the meetings. You can find meetings in your area by going online.
The Holiday season, you know that sometimes dicey span of time that begins with Thanksgiving (and for some as early as Halloween) then encompasses Christmas and finally grinds to a halt right around New Year’s Day, yeah that…that can be the most difficult time for recovering alcoholics and addicts. And may even be difficult for their families, too.
Here are some tips on how you can go about maintaining your sobriety through the holiday season.
Go late and leave early. I have found that no one notices – or cares – how long you are there. Have other plans or tell people you have other plans and that you can only stay for a certain length of time.
Get re-connected with that ‘gift of desperation.’ One thing I try to do during the holidays and at any other time I feel the stress is remember how it was. And if you are having a hard time remembering just how bad it was, make 12-step calls during the holiday season in order to help others as well to keep the memory of where that first drink or drug will lead you.
Know your limitations. I could only stay with family for one or two hours before feeling like I needed to leave. I made other plans with my sober friends to support me in maintaining sobriety. Friends and family often put on a lot of pressure on you during the holiday season, but you might also put a lot of pressure on yourself. You expect that you are supposed to be a lot of things to a lot of people. It is important to realize that you can’t possibly go to every holiday party or be able to get presents for everyone in your life.
Tell your sober supports what you’re up to. Make a plan to call someone every hour on the hour. As always, remember your relapse prevention plan. An important part of any relapse prevention plan is having a thorough and trusted list of people to call. It includes knowing what situations are going to be more difficult for you. So, if being around a certain family member tends to be a trigger, have a plan for that instance.
Bring a sober friend or friends to your holiday celebration for support and accountability.
Host your own holiday dinner. You can ensure that it is a “dry” party if you have your own. Invite only your sober friends and friends and family who understand what recovery is and who respect your sober lifestyle.
And some things to remember:
It’s not what’s in the glass that’s important, it’s what’s in your heart. I learned that no one cares if I’m drinking or not and furthermore, whatever I was drinking was not of interest to the others and rarely noticed by anyone.
Lastly, no one knows you as well as you do. Being self-aware is the ultimate relapse prevention. Stay vigilant about how you are feeling and be sure to avoid HALT – don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135