It has been a long winter, and some of us may be feeling a bit down lately. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with feeling down. Happiness is not a prerequisite of recovery for our clients at Sanford Behavioral Health. However, we do teach coping skills to help our clients move through the rough patches: physical exercise, following a routine, and asking for help. Having a handful of loved ones who bestow support when requested is also essential. Sometimes it’s hearing, “I’ve felt that way, too,” or “How can you change your perspective?” Other times, it’s just having someone listen,
Happiness in Recovery
Here is a revelatory thought: A person can reset at any time throughout the day. It’s never too late to start over; it’s never too late to decide to have a good day. We are allowed to feel pleasure amid pain because feelings aren’t fixed. Funks aren’t permanent. As life fluctuates and changes, we are allowed to change too. A bad day today doesn’t promise a bad day tomorrow.
Let’s take this to the next step. When you feel depressed, a happy song or videos of kittens may be met with distrust, even though they make you feel lighter. One might think, “I’m not supposed to feel happy. I’m going through something right now.” But instead of giving in to self-pity, try something new. Start the day over.
Reset the Day and Happy Wisdom
Funks arise for any number of reasons. Grief. Relapse. Change. Life is tough. And while we wait for things to balance out and a positive light to appear, it falls on us to figure out how to manage. According to F. Scott Fitzgerald, wisdom is the ability to hold two contrary ideas simultaneously, i.e., life is tough, so I feel down, and things often work out, and that bird building a nest in the gutter brings me joy. So again, I’m allowed to feel pleasure amid the pain. It’s important to familiarize oneself with this idea. Because it engenders a more rational and pragmatic worldview, it helps us handle change or misfortune with greater acceptance and fewer anxieties; thinking rationally untwists our distortions.
Happiness in recovery begets happiness!
The truth is, when we ignore moments of contentment, humor, and playfulness, we cheat ourselves. I draw further negativity by blocking the possibility of good. I attract more gloom with a gloomy demeanor. Because in doing so, I’ve already written the end of the story for myself. I’m not thinking critically about the situation; I’m not behaving proactively. At best, I’m side-stepping. At worst, I’m stepping backward. It may feel like the most straightforward option in my state of down, but it will complicate things in the long run.
When we’re down, we often relish our downness. Especially if feeling down is predictable. And familiar.
So, just because I’ve experienced or am currently experiencing pain, am I to view the world through a tragic lens all the time? When something makes me smile amid my funk, like a song, a baby, or someone tripping on the sidewalk, who says I need to resume my chagrin immediately? If we’re drowning in pity, fear, emotional unrest and are offered a life preserver (in the form of a recommendation to a treatment center, an opportunity to build extra accountability, why wouldn’t we reach for it?
Physical Movement and Recovery
Another method of resetting the day is physical movement. The mind-body connection is well established. A significant change in our physiology disrupts problematic thinking patterns. Going for a run can diffuse anger. Meditative stillness may quell anxiety. There is even budding evidence that particular breathing practices quiet nicotine cravings.
In terms of SUD recovery, triggers and cravings are often stronger when we’re stressed. But when we practice healthy alternatives to battling stress spikes, we reroute brain paths to associate healthy activity with stress reduction.
Take advantage of the happy moments instead of ignoring them. The ability to evaluate and reset a situation is quite a gift. And these moments can serve as a reminder to get out of your head and invite the good. In group therapy at Sanfotd Behavioral Health, we learn to assess all options before settling on the obvious one. As we navigate early recovery, the ability to reset is incredibly valuable. At Sanford Behavioral Health, clients find new ways to weather a funk and explore healthier coping methods. A structured treatment environment is often the safest place to practice this skill and find true happiness in recovery.