The start of a new year is a time filled with feelings of possibility and hope for a fresh start. It can be the perfect opportunity to make a change in your life, no matter how small. However, when setting resolutions, consider starting with simple goals that are achievable. Staying focused on clear and realistic goals will help you avoid feeling frustrated or burned out early on.

The beginning of the new year is often when people suffering from addiction choose to begin recovery. If taking control of your life in addiction is a resolution for you, how can you work to approach this goal with a practical plan of action? Whether 2021 will be the first time you commit to recovery or you’ve had challenges with recovery in the past, these intentional steps will help guide you on your journey.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s okay if you start small; in fact, focusing on taking it one day, or even one hour, at time will make your goals easier to maintain. Being too rigid or complicated in your approach to any resolution often leads to giving up at the first stumbling block. The goal should be consistent progress, not the pursuit of perfection. Making small goals, and achieving them over time, will get you to your finish line! Putting too much pressure on yourself will lead to stress and anxiety that will have a negative impact on your recovery and confidence.

Be open and honest with your support system. Recovery is difficult. Don’t be afraid to open up to the people you trust. Share how you feel on the positive days and confide in them on the difficult days. Allow them to offer encouragement or hold you accountable when necessary. Knowing there are people supporting you and hoping you succeed will offer more motivation to stay the course.

Pursue new hobbies or skills. Recovery is a great time to incorporate new hobbies into your routine. Taking up yoga or another form of exercise is beneficial to your physical health and might positively affect your mental health as well. The COVID-19 pandemic may impact the number of in-person options in your area, but there are plenty of opportunities to hone new skills virtually.

Find ways to stay positive. Some days it will be more difficult to maintain recovery than others. It’s important to find ways to avoid becoming discouraged. Incorporating a gratitude journal or meditation into your day is great way to add positivity and to stay in touch with how you are feeling along your journey. Beginning to understand that every day will be different and learning how to accept those feelings as real and valid will help with reducing frustration. Use your sober network, they are there for you, especially on these days!

Remember that recovery, like any change, takes time. Be intentional about your recovery journey each day and don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system. There may be slips along the way, but don’t let that discourage you from continuing to pursue recovery. The new year isn’t the only time you can make a change.

If you’re ready to get started on the road to recovery or have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, we are here for you. Visit cleanslatecenters.com and reach out to a center near you to get started.

Nicole Delmonico MT ASCP MPAS PA-C

Nicole Delmonico is the Massachusetts Southeast area clinical director for CleanSlate.