Living One Day at a Time

a lady wearing a hoodie with her eyes closed

An essential part of embracing the 12-Step philosophy that many people use to maintain sobriety includes taking "one day at a time." The concept involves staying mindful and moving forward rather than focusing on things you cannot change about the past. Every day is a chance to make better choices and be a positive role model to others. How you interact with the people around you and cope with daily challenges will impact your mental and physical well-being. 

Mindfulness and Living One Day at a Time

A paper published by Clinical Psychology Review concluded that "mindfulness is positively associated with psychological health, and that training in mindfulness may bring about positive psychological effects." Some of the benefits listed in the paper include "increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms, and emotional reactivity" and "improved regulation of behavior." Mindfulness-based practices are present in many types of psychotherapy, including:

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

Giving yourself the space to experience things as they come rather than anxiously worrying about the future or fixating on the past can help you increase self-awareness and self-confidence. If you respond well to mindfulness-based techniques, your therapist or counselor can provide you with ways to incorporate them into your day-to-day life. Most rehabilitation centers also use these methods. For example, the treatment programs at White House Recovery and Detox, we offer a range of activities you can use to practice mindfulness, including:

Radical Acceptance and Living Day to Day 

Radical acceptance is a term used by some mental health professionals to describe aspects of dialectical behavioral therapy. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation published research stating, "DBT teaches the concept of 'radical acceptance,' which involves the acceptance of unchangeable emotions, thoughts, and unchangeable circumstances." Not everyone feels comfortable releasing guilt, shame, or other negative emotions associated with their choices. However, many people find this kind of blanket acceptance helpful in overcoming environmental triggers and coping with intrusive thoughts or cravings. 

Radical acceptance is a form of mindfulness that allows you to be patient and kind with yourself while remaining accountable for your actions. You can use this method to take each day as it comes without judgment or putting pressure on yourself. 

How to Stay Motivated While Being Mindful 

Mindfulness is not about avoiding responsibility. You still need to create recovery and personal goals to stay motivated. One way to achieve this is by making a list of things you would like to do and then determining what steps you need to reach those ultimate goals. A few examples of possible goals and motivation include: 

  • Maintaining sobriety for another year by making healthy choices and using coping skills
  • Strengthening personal relationships with friends and loved ones by being more emotionally available
  • Meeting professional goals like getting a promotion by learning new work skills
  • Meeting academic goals like graduating with honors by dedicating more time to studying
  • Improving your mental and physical health through therapy and exercise

Once you have a list of things you want to work toward, you can determine how you can use each day to make progress on those goals. Sometimes it is helpful to have an outside perspective. Collaborating with your therapist or a member of your support system can make goal planning easier. 

Planning for Your Future and Accepting the Past  

Taking "each day as it comes" is often taught in 12-Step facilitation (TSF) therapy and group meetings. Worrying about tomorrow or feeling guilty about things you could have done better yesterday do not help you make better choices today. Remaining mindful of your current progress and goals does make it easier to plan for the future in a healthier and more objective way. 

Some people mistake mindfulness and the choice to remain focused on the present to mean they should stop looking forward. However, staying mindful does not mean avoiding thoughts of your past or future. On the contrary, you can use your connection to the present as an anchor to keep you from feeling overwhelmed while planning for the future or thinking about past events. Your mind and body can remain relaxed and focused while you create short-term and long-term goals. 

Avoid Stress by Living One Day at a Time 

Living one day at a time can decrease stress responses, which can significantly impact your general health. According to MedlinePlus, "chronic stress can be bad for your body and mind" and "it can put you at risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, stomachaches, headaches, anxiety, and depression." 

Relapse prevention therapy and education often stress the importance of lowering environmental stress. Every day is an opportunity to grow, heal, and serve others while improving your well-being and state of mind. 

The concept of mindfulness and accepting your circumstances one day at a time can decrease stress and increase feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. Focusing on today rather than worrying about the future or past can be freeing and give you the emotional space to relax and grow stronger. Recovery is a process, and every stage requires vigilance and hard work to keep moving forward and remain accountable. At White House Recovery and Detox, we encourage people to use mindfulness techniques to get the most out of each day. Only you can hold yourself back from creating a healthier, happier life. Choose to make a change today and embrace the serenity that can come when you release unhelpful thoughts and fears about the future or past. To learn more about the services that we have to offer or to set up an intake interview, reach out to our office today by calling us at (800) 510-5393.