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The Importance of Surrounding Yourself With Positivity
Whether you’re newly sober or recently left an abusive relationship, your environment has a significant impact on your recovery. Focusing on your ‘why’, surrounding yourself with positive people, and keeping your space beautified will help you stay on the right track.
On the contrary, if you’re still hanging out with your “party friends,” sobriety may start to seem uncool. In the same vein, a personal or shared space with dishes in the sink, food sitting on the stove, and clothes on the floor creates a chaotic environment. In chaos, it’s harder for your brain to think clearly and stick to its initial intentions. In addition, if you’re in a group recovery program and you’re isolating yourself from fellows, old habits may become appealing again.
No matter your situation, you have options. But, first, let’s look at why people end up in recovery in the first place.
The Root Cause
One of the leading environmental causes of addiction is childhood trauma. Mental health professionals label traumatic events like abuse, household dysfunction, and neglect as “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs). A child’s neurodevelopment can be significantly impacted by these ACEs, especially if they become the norm. ACEs cause stunted or delayed development in certain brain parts, making it difficult for a child to cope with negative emotions or disruptions. When a child can’t deal with life’s ups and downs, they turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, and partners they think can “fix” them.
According to 7 Summit Pathways, children with ACEs:
- typically begin using alcohol and drugs earlier than peers
- can also develop mental health disorders or addiction at age 50 or later
- increase use of prescription drugs by 62% with each additional ACE
Now you’re an adult, and you’re ready to change the trajectory of your life.
First off, take a moment to congratulate yourself on this huge step. You’re aware enough to know you deserve better, which is vital. Now, let’s explore tips for setting boundaries, so you can keep your mind, body, and spirit healthy.
Find Your ‘Why’
Ask yourself why you became sober. Find a reason that resonates with you at your core. If you’re only sober to make someone else happy, what happens if that person leaves? Your ‘why’ must be solid and meaningful on a deep, emotional level. Journal about it and meditate on it. This is your lifeline when life throws you a curveball.
Once you’ve discovered your ‘why,’ put it somewhere you can see it every day. Write it on a Post-It note and stick it on your bathroom mirror. Make art out of it and frame it in your bedroom. It’s up to you!
Surround Yourself with Supportive People
Spend time with people who support your decision to better yourself. Folks of this nature have a positive outlook on life and want what’s best for you. For example, they’d rather walk with you to a smoothie bar than hang out at a local pub. They can be coworkers, friends, partners, or family members. These are the people you call when you’re in a rut because they encourage you to get back on your feet. When you talk to a supportive person, you feel calm.
On the contrary, beware of people who make you feel stressed. There’s a good chance they’re toxic. A toxic person typically complains all the time, has a negative outlook, always has an ulterior motive, and ultimately wants you to sink in the ship with them. These are the people who offer you a drink when they know you’re sober or who invite your abusive ex to parties. Steer clear of these people. Protecting your ‘why’ may mean making new friends or taking space from family.
Beautify Your Space
Whether you own an entire home or rent half a room, create a space that’s conducive to sobriety and overall mental wellness.
Start by donating clothes and other items you no longer wear or use. It’s important to clear out the old to make room for new, positive energy.
Next, form healthy habits that keep your place orderly, such as:
- making your bed every morning
- leaving out hangers so you can easily put your clothes up before bed
- loading the dishwasher or washing dishes when you finish dinner
Minor changes here and there make a huge difference over time. So don’t overwhelm yourself by doing a 180 overnight.
If you suffer from ACEs, chances are you grew up in a physical environment where you felt unsafe. Maintaining order will make it easier for your brain to focus on the task at hand instead of stressing over childhood triggers. In addition, eliminating triggers helps you become comfortable with your new and improved lifestyle.
It’s also essential to incorporate art, furniture, and other trinkets that resonate with you. Orderly does not mean sterile. An environment comparable to a hospital isn’t great for recovery, either. As a child raised in a traumatic situation, you may not have felt safe expressing yourself. So, now is your chance!
Furniture styles, accent colors, and decorating trends evoke certain feelings. For example, curved furniture creates a soft, relaxing ambiance. Even lamps, rugs, and pieces of art with curves can make a space comfortable and inviting.
As far as incorporating color, research found that earthy tones are great for mimicking nature’s soothing, organic vibes. Chestnut, burgundy, deep green, and cream are part of the earth tone family.
Kitchen art also creates a warm, inviting room. So instead of filling every shelf with bowls and cups, switch these basic items out for paintings or sketches that speak to you.
Stuck in Limbo?
Not everyone can leave a toxic environment and start fresh as soon as they’d like to. For example, if you’re under 18 or rely on an abusive partner for financial support, it may take a little longer to free yourself.
However, it’s wise to have a plan in case of an emergency. If you pack a suitcase and store it in your closet, you’ll be ready to go when you need to stay with a friend or relative to avoid harm.
- create a list of prioritized items, such as medications, IDs, keys, phone, cash
- make another list with less essential items: clothes, shoes, underwear, socks, toiletries
- bring an empty bag so you can separate your clean and dirty clothes
- when it comes to packing, keep your priority items on you
- place what you’ll need immediately at the top of the suitcase
- roll clothes to make more room
Stay Informed to Stay Healthy
If you feel trapped in a harmful situation or overwhelmed in recovery, contact one of our professionals to learn how to improve your situation. The Treatment Specialist provides resources for those struggling with addiction and mental health disorders. It also offers rehabilitation options and ways to afford treatments.