Finding Joy in the World Around You

joyful black woman in the city

The writer and professor Joseph Campbell once wrote, "we cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy." Coping with the effects and consequences of substance use disorder (SUD) might leave you feeling tired and defeated on bad days. You can maintain your mental health by looking for positivity and joy in the world around you to boost your emotional and physical well-being. Finding new ways to enjoy your life can make it easier to overcome challenges related to recovery. Healthy activities and routines distract from daily stressors and uncomfortable situations in a way that will leave you feeling energized instead of drained.  

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that "research has found a link between an upbeat mental state and improved health, including lower blood pressure, reduced risk for heart disease, healthier weight, better blood sugar levels, and longer life." Part of aftercare at treatment facilities like White House Recovery and Detox often involves identifying and exploring interests that improve your mental state. Get more enjoyment out of life by taking the time to look for new adventures, hobbies, and activities, including:

  • Art or music
  • Outdoor activities
  • Gaming
  • Sports
  • Social events
  • Sober peer groups

What Brings You Joy? 

Sobriety is more sustainable if you have positive interests to replace maladaptive behaviors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports "a growing body of research suggests that having a positive outlook can benefit your physical health." Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what types of activities you genuinely enjoy. You may have never had the opportunity to focus on self-care or explore the things that make you feel happy. Look at your life and try to make a list of all the things that make you feel better about yourself and others. Common examples include:

  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Learning new hobbies
  • Attending events
  • Spending time in nature
  • Playing with pets
  • Volunteering to help others
  • Enjoying adventurous activities

You can make a list of the things that make you feel the most relaxed and happy. The more you do to add items to that list, the easier it will be to find ways to incorporate joy into your daily life. 

Substance Abuse Affects the Brain

Substance use disorder can have multiple health side effects, including physical changes to the brain that influence how you experience pleasure and positive emotions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), "substance use disorders are related to dysfunction in the brain's motivational and reward processes," which can cause areas of the brain to become over-stimulated during instances of substance misuse, creating temporary or permanent changes. Finding ways to regain a sense of joy and pleasure in a healthy way can increase your self-esteem, self-worth, and general well-being. 

How Can Finding Enjoyment in Life Improve Your Recovery? 

Replacing unhealthy thoughts and maladaptive behaviors with positive actions and hobbies can leave you feeling fulfilled and motivated to continue healing. Enjoyable activities can also lower stress. Research published in Emotion concluded that "daily positive emotions predicted growth in ego-resilience, a psychological resource that has proved useful in dealing with both mild and severe stressors." Chronic or acute stress is one of the leading causes of relapse in individuals who have undergone treatment for substance use disorder. Avoiding stress by practicing self-care and finding ways to stay positive will improve your overall quality of life. 

Avoiding Relapse Using Self-Care

Relapse prevention includes anticipating possible problem areas in recovery and finding ways to avoid triggering cravings and intrusive thoughts. According to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, "a setback can be any behavior that moves an individual closer to physical relapse. Some examples of setbacks are not setting healthy boundaries, not asking for help, not avoiding high-risk situations, and not practicing self-care." Setbacks are a normal part of recovery for most people, but they can be minimized or avoided by actively taking part in self-care and spending time doing things that make you feel good about yourself. 

Living Your Best Life and Staying Healthy 

At White House Recovery and Detox, we believe that everyone can overcome challenges related to recovery. You have the opportunity to explore activities and goals that leave you feeling fulfilled. Once you identify all the things you enjoy, take steps to make them a more significant part of your life. You can share your interests with friends and family to increase the positive impact while making lifestyle changes that help you feel more comfortable and healthy. You control the amount of joy and acceptance you allow yourself to feel. Start making changes today to create a better future. 

Recovery is a life-long journey, and you get to choose how you react to challenges that you face along the way. Coping strategies we encourage at White House Recovery and Detox include practicing mindfulness and finding things you enjoy to replace previous maladaptive behaviors and habits. You are the only person who can control how you choose to approach your health and well-being. By deciding to get treatment for your substance use disorder, you have already taken steps to heal. However, reaching out for help is not enough. You need to follow it up by working hard to develop healthy behaviors that keep you moving forward after completing your treatment program. You alone can decide to think positively and include more enjoyable activities in your daily life. Our dedicated staff is here to support you. To learn more about our facility or the services we offer, call us today at (800) 510-5393.