Discipline Is The Horse I Ride
If you are looking for balance in your recovery then it requires discipline in the sense that you have to take care of the physical, spiritual, emotional and social aspects of your life. It’s all about emotional sobriety. Mark Houston used to say, “discipline is the horse I ride.” He was referring to the necessary daily actions of recovery. You can’t neglect your physical health or you will get sick. You can’t neglect your spiritual health or you will become selfish and the recovery literature states, “Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kill us!” (*Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 63). Well we definitely don’t want that!!
Don’t Stop Going to Meetings
You can’t become emotionally sick because then you will want to self medicate those negative emotions away. Self-medicating can come in the form of alcohol or drugs, shopping, gambling, sex, relationships, over-eating, purging, cutting… etc.
You can’t become socially sick or you will have no support system to turn to. Whatever you do, don’t stop going to meetings!! I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times at a meeting where someone comes back from a relapse and they say, “I stopped going to meetings and eventually I relapsed.” Finally, you can’t become mentally sick or the obsession of the mind returns and eventually you will drink and drug again.
This is Where Balance Comes In
All of these areas of your life are interconnected. This is where balance comes in. You can’t just work on the physical aspect by exercising and eating right and ignore the spiritual aspect. You can’t work on the emotional aspect by improving your personal growth yet ignoring your social network. You have to work on all four aspects of your life if you want to remain happy and sober. It’s called recovery. Recovery is work. At least it feels like that in the beginning, but as time passes and you repeat the same healthy actions over and over it becomes routine. It starts to become part of your daily life. It doesn’t seem like a chore anymore, it becomes a part of who you are but you have to develop discipline in the beginning.
Here are 4 tips to living a balanced life:
•Exercise! If you don’t like going to the gym, find something fun to do that has you moving. Try canoeing, walking, tennis, biking, swimming, yoga, paddle boarding… There are tons of fun activities out there. Find the ones you like.
• Eat healthy. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Just kick up your fruits and veggies and cut down on the red meats and fried foods. Eat smaller portions. Take a multivitamin too.
• If you smoke…well, as an ex-smoker I tried to quit five times, so far it seems like the 5th times a charm. I know it’s hard. Very hard. But keep trying! Use a nicotine replacement method and a smoking cessation class or group. They also have quit lines where you can talk to experts. There are also some great websites out there some even come with apps for your smart phone. This website is one of my favorites.
• Stress Less. Stress is so detrimental to your health in so many ways. Take this stress test to see where you currently stand. Learn some tips and techniques to unwind. Meditation and bubble baths are my go to de-stresser but find what works for you.
Pray, meditate, do altruistic acts, find a group to worship with, work the 12 steps, read spiritual literature, read recovery literature, go to literature based recovery meetings or join a meditation or yoga group. Do whatever feels right to improve your conscious contact with your Higher Power. Don’t just maintain your spiritual condition, GROW with it. The foundation of your recovery depends on this aspect more than any of the others (not that you can ignore the others).
Seek counseling for the deeper issues in your life. Have a trusted adviser or sponsor that you can bounce things off of and that you know will guide you in the right direction. Get a hobby. Find humor in situations. Express gratitude to those around you. Eat foods rich in Omega –3 fatty acids when you are feeling sad because some evidence suggests that Omega- 3 fatty acids may help ease depressive symptoms (some Omega-3 foods: salmon, herring, sardines, and tuna). Go to meetings, Work the 12 steps (there they are again).
They say recovery is like an onion, as you peel back the layers it will make you cry. I’m going to tell you something you won’t hear in meetings very often, Ready? There’s no recovery without discomfort. BUT when you get to the other side, the awakening and emotional growth you will experience are amazing.
Network, network, network! The bigger your recovery network, the stronger your recovery is. Have you ever snapped a pencil in half? It’s pretty easy. Now take that pencil and put it with nine other pencils. Wrap a rubber band around those ten pencils and then try and snap it in half. Almost impossible, right? We are like that first pencil. Alone we can be broken but bunch us together and we are STRONG.
If you don’t know how to grow your social network that’s where the Ann Arbor Women’s Group can help. Do activities with other women in recovery and you will connect with these women on a much deeper level then just attending meetings with them. The real social connections happen outside of the meetings (continue to attend meeting though). Sign up to be on our email list and you will get recovery event notifications right in your inbox (you can also text EZA2WG to 313131 to join the text message list).
Add One New Activity
All of these things I just mentioned may seem like an awful lot of work but if you want a balanced life start by adding just one new activity at a time. Slowly you will start to see a change in the way you feel. Your outlook on life will change. The more you do, the better you will feel which in turn will motivate you to do even more. Here’s a warning though, if you start slacking off it will have the opposite effect. Remember, it’s about discipline. Make discipline the horse you ride in recovery too.
Peace, Love & Sobriety
*A2WG is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous or any other organization.