One of the reasons why people use drugs or drink alcohol is to cope with feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression. Without the safety blanket of substance abuse, a new focus becomes how to be happy again. Actually, withdrawal can cause lingering feelings of depression and anxiety. So, the real question is how to find happiness despite these symptoms and how to continue to bring happiness to one’s self for years to come.
Find Your People
In recovery, we talk a great deal about having a support system. This system isn’t just to prevent relapse but to build a sense of family, community, and belonging. Isolation rarely leads to happiness, but human connection can. Still, the right people must be involved in order to achieve the desired results.
- Work to surround yourself with people who you know have your best interests at heart and who bring you joy. This may be a parent, sibling, or friend.
- Find someone with who you can speak openly and honestly with, such as a therapist.
- Connect with others who understand what you have been going through by attending support groups.
When you have these people in your life, you can free yourself from feelings of isolation or being misunderstood and make room for happiness.
Explore Was Brings Meaning to Your Life
When you are doing something that brings meaning to your life, you are accepting self-love and joy. Not everyone finds meaning in the same thing. For some, life is about supporting their family physically, emotionally, and financially. For others, it is dedicating their life to their spirituality. You could also find meaning in life by giving back to the community.
Especially when in recovery, a common question is “Why me? Why was I placed on this Earth? Why Was I given a second chance?”
Take time to consider these questions and how you can find meaning in your life.
Buy Experiences, Not Things
Buying material things can create an immediate sense of satisfaction, which is probably why people often shop to make them feel happy. However, after the purchase is complete and the package has been opened, the happiness quickly fades. How many things have you purchased that end up sitting around getting used a few times (if you’re lucky). Shopping is just a bandaid for a larger issue. Meanwhile, your bank account is a little more empty and you’re left wanting to buy more stuff to get the same immediate satisfaction. Instead of buying items, consider investing in experiences. Experiences create memories that will be with you forever.
Road trips and vacations are an obvious choice, but not everyone has the time and money to take big trips all the time. Consider the following alternatives:
- Go on a day trip or stay-cation to a beach, park, or another local landmark.
- Enroll in a class to build a skill you have been interested in (cooking class, learn a language, learn to code, etc.)
- Plan a small gathering with friends around food, games, and conversation.
- Go on a picnic.
Today’s society has been designed to keep our minds racing 24/7. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Set aside a little bit of time to allow your mind to slow down and focus on being at peace. Consider meditating, taking a yoga class, or simply taking a minute a few times a day to breathe slowly and deeply. Each day, make a list (written or mental) of all the things you are grateful for. These are all ways of practicing mindfulness and inviting in happiness.
Improve Your Diet
Recent studies have shown that there is a strong connection between your gut health and mental health, meaning what we consume can affect how we feel. Consuming probiotic foods, superfoods, greens, and other nutrients is one way how anyone can be happy again. Some addiction treatment programs provide diet and nutrition counselings to help you improve your diet while in treatment. They may also prepare a diet plan to implement even after treatment. People are often amazed at how much avoiding fast food, and introducing whole foods into their diet can improve their mental state.
Exercising and physical activity releases endorphins and other positive hormones that are connected with a natural “high”. You don’t have to run a 5k but start by going on an evening walk. Work your way up to higher intensity workouts. You may think that working out is going to make you tired, but you will actually notice that you feel a boost of energy and happiness at the end of a good workout. Additionally, when you do sleep, you will sleep better.
Be Kind to Yourself & Others
If you want to be happy again, eliminate self-deprecating phrases. The more you say negative things, the more you begin to believe them. You don’t deserve that. Be kind to yourself and accept that you are good because all of us have good in us.
Also, be kind to others. Being rude to others is just another excuse to be rude to yourself. However, being kind to others is a reason to be kind to yourself. Kindness comes full circle and brings happiness to all involved.
Sadness is a normal human emotion and it is appropriate to feel sad from time to time. Allow yourself to have time to process feelings of sadness, frustrations, and grief. Without allowing yourself to properly deal with your emotions, they will continue to fester. Process and release the emotions that you do not want to keep hold off. Sometimes talking to someone else or performing an action of release (ie: releasing ashes of a loved one or purging belonging of a past relationship) are ways to process such emotions.
When it comes to how to be happy again, no one thing is going to work for years to come. Happiness takes work, desire, and dedication to life. Invest in yourself, get help from a trusted drug and alcohol rehab and learn how to be happy again.