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Gratitude as a Pillar of Mental Resilience in Sobriety



The road to sobriety is rarely smooth. The journey will be filled with ups and downs, challenges and triumphs. Gratitude, however, can help you stay on track.

Even when life is tough, gratitude can help you stay focused on the good. You can appreciate the small things in life, even if they seem insignificant. As a bonus, it enhances your mental resilience, which is vital to staying sober.


What is Gratitude?


In general, gratitude is seen as a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation. Whether it is directed toward people, things, or even experiences, love can be expressed in many different ways. Through gratitude, we focus on what we have instead of what we don't.

As a result, we can feel more positive and content with our lives.


“Gratitude heals, energizes and changes lives,” explains psychologist Robert A. Emmons. “It is the prism through which we view life in terms of gifts, givers, goodness and grace.”


How Gratitude Can Help in Sobriety


People in sobriety can benefit from gratitude in many ways. Among them are:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety. By focusing on the things we are grateful for, we can reduce stress and anxiety. Specifically, gratitude triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes the body.

  • Helps you stay positive. When you are focused on the positives in your life, focusing on the negatives is hard. By staying positive and motivated during your recovery, you will be more likely to succeed.

  • Improves mood. It has also been found that gratitude can improve mood. It does so by increasing serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with happiness.

  • Builds resilience. It's easier to cope with challenges and setbacks when you're grateful for what you have. The reason for this is that you know you have the strength to overcome them.

  • Boosts self-esteem. Taking time to appreciate yourself and your accomplishments can boost your self-esteem. In sobriety, this can help people to feel more confident and capable.

  • Strengthens relationships. It is also possible to strengthen relationships by showing gratitude. In addition to helping us focus on the good aspects of our relationships, it can also make us more appreciative of the people around us.

  • Decreases cravings. Focusing on what we are grateful for can reduce our cravings for alcohol and drugs. By feeling grateful, we are more likely to feel happier and less likely to turn to substances to cope with stress or difficult emotions.

  • Enhances happiness and well-being. Gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and overall well-being. Focusing on the good can lead to more positive emotions, which can enhance our lives and make them more fulfilling and meaningful.

How to Cultivate Gratitude in Sobriety


Gratitude can be cultivated in sobriety in many ways, such as:

  • Keeping a gratitude journal. Make a habit of writing down three things you are grateful for every day. Whether it's a beautiful sunrise or a kind word, anything can inspire you.

  • Practicing mindfulness. Being mindful can help you appreciate the simple things in life and become more present in the moment.

  • Making it a family affair. During a meal with your family, ask each member to share something they are grateful for. For a more hands-on approach, you can purchase a large container and have everyone write a small note of gratitude. You can read the messages at the end of the week, month, or year as a way to remind yourself of how fortunate you are.

  • Expressing your gratitude. Thank the people in your life, like friends and coworkers, for all they do for you. An expression of gratitude can be as simple as a thank you or as elaborate as you would like.

  • Helping others. By helping others, you cultivate gratitude and shift your focus from yourself to them. Do something kind for a friend or family member or volunteer your time to a cause you care about.

  • Changing your perspective on challenges. You can grow from your struggles and challenges if you look at them as opportunities. By shifting your perspective, you can feel more optimistic about your situation and more grateful for the progress you've made.

  • Practicing self-care. Many people in recovery from substance use disorders feel guilty, shamed, and low in self-esteem. Because of this, they may feel as if they don't "deserve" the good things that have happened to them. Take the time to take care of yourself regularly so that you continue to work towards building a better life for yourself.

  • Taking part in a gratitude group or therapy. Gratitude-focused therapy and support groups are offered by many recovery centers. Support groups can be an effective way to cultivate gratitude and connect with others on the same journey.

Gratitude as a Journey


Gratitude is a skill that requires practice and time to cultivate. Gratitude is a journey, not a destination, so there will be days when it feels harder than others. With practice, it becomes easier to appreciate the positive things in your life and focus on the positive.


In addition to cultivating a positive and resilient mindset during your recovery journey, gratitude improves your relationships and increases your overall well-being. So take some time every day to appreciate what you have, and watch how your life transforms.


Additional tips for cultivating gratitude:

  • Start small. Don't try to completely change your life in a day. Consider small acts of gratitude, such as saying thank you to the barista who makes your coffee or noticing the beauty of a sunset in your daily routine.

  • Be specific. It is important to be specific when practicing gratitude. When you focus on the positive in your life, you are more likely to appreciate the details that make it special.

  • Make it a habit. By practicing gratitude regularly, you will become more naturally grateful. Keep a gratitude journal, meditate, or simply take a moment to reflect on the good things in your life every day.

  • Seek support. You can find many resources that can help you practice gratitude if you have trouble doing so on your own. Read books and articles about gratitude, speak to a therapist or counselor, or join a support group.


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Dmitro Makovetskiy
Dmitro Makovetskiy
Dec 28, 2023

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