It’s tradition to focus on what we’re thankful for during the holiday season, but in recovery striving to consistently incorporate gratitude in your life is essential. Addiction is a disease that thrives on negativity, so actively practicing gratitude is a great tool when trying to maintain recovery.

It may be especially hard to find things to be thankful for this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing extreme stress and keeping loved ones apart this holiday season. These moments of gratitude don’t need to be big, however. In fact, taking time to appreciate your small wins is just as important as celebrating the achievement of large goals.

It can be easy to place too much pressure on achieving large goals, but if things don’t turn out as planned, it may lead to loss of motivation and a return to negative coping habits. It’s important to be intentional about setting small, realistic goals and to appreciate the accomplishment of each little win. Try to appreciate where you are in the process. It can be difficult, but small wins happen each day and there’s no win too small to be celebrated.

Here are three tips for incorporating thankfulness into your daily life:

  • Make a gratitude list. Start your day by listing what you’re thankful for or end the night by writing down the positive things that happened throughout the day. Taking the time to list what made you happy will make gratitude a routine, and you’ll realize several small wins can add up to a great day.
  • Meditate. Prioritize meditation and reflect on what you’re thankful for in your life. These can be large or small things but taking time to appreciate them is a great way to add some positivity and gratitude to your day.
  • Say thank you. Take any opportunity to express thanks to the important people in your life, even outside of the holiday season. Sharing your appreciation for someone makes them feel good, but it makes you feel good, too.

Remember, even if things don’t go according to plan on your recovery journey, there are always little things to be thankful for. Comparing yourself to others or beating yourself up when you make a mistake will only lead to stress. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection stop you from appreciating the progress you’ve made. Positive thinking directly impacts mental health which makes it less difficult to maintain recovery.

Anna M. Gaddy

Anna Gaddy is Vice President, Behavioral Health for CleanSlate.