Whether you are well into your recovery or newly sober, giving back to others is an important aspect of the recovery process. Serving others will not only make you feel good about yourself, but it will also greatly increase your chance of long-term sobriety.
Giving Back – The First Step
Throughout the recovery process, many people have helped you and continue to help you. Certain family members and friends may have supported you throughout each step of your recovery. Your professional team, including medical, physical, and mental health providers, counselors, and therapists have been there for you. Some of your peers may always be available to offer support, advice, and help. Recovery has likely taught you how important and meaningful even the slightest amount of help can be. So how do you begin to practice gratitude and give back? One of the first ways is to thank all of those people who have been there for you and believed in you throughout your recovery process.
The Importance of Gratitude and Giving Back
Having gratitude has been shown to reduce negative behaviors and thoughts. You will actually have a more positive mindset if you take time every day to be grateful for what you have. When you give back, you are showing gratitude for what you have attained throughout your recovery. Helping others through acts of kindness and selflessness is a way of saying thank you to all those people who have helped you along your road to recovery. When you help people, you not only make a difference in their lives, but you also stay connected and focused on your own recovery while getting a boost to your self-esteem and enjoying a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness.
Giving back also helps you:
- Feel empowered
- Develop resilience against types of mental illness, such as depression
- Find a new purpose in life and learn what really matters to you
- Understand new perspectives of recovery and the benefits of sobriety
- Develop new skills
- Build connections with others
- Make your community a better place
Ways to Give Back in Recovery
Deciding how to give back is completely up to you. Assess the time you have, the activities you enjoy, the needs of your community, and make the commitment that works for you. Then, stick to it. Take the responsibility seriously: show up on time and offer your support from the heart. Besides helping others, you are strengthening your sense of purpose and reinforcing your daily structure.
Here are several ways you can give back in recovery:
- Take good care of yourself. Make sure you get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, and exercise on a regular basis. Not only will your family and friends see that you are serious about your recovery, but you will also have the strength you need to help others.
- Take part in activities that involve your family and friends. Watch a child participate in a school concert, play a sport, or swing at a playground. Offer to help out with a project around the house. Enjoy a family dinner together. See a movie, go bowling, or host a game night for friends.
- Volunteer and be active at your 12-Step meetings by helping to set up and break down the room, welcome newcomers, facilitate sharing, take care of the coffee and tea commitment, or drive members to or from the meeting. When you are able to, become a sponsor.
- Volunteer your time outside of your 12-Step meeting. Many places need volunteers, including food banks, local hospitals, veterans organizations, or churches. Tutor a child or an adult, help out at a community garden, volunteer at an animal shelter, or assist at a soup kitchen.
- Donate to a charity or cause you feel strongly about. Some people are financially able to donate money, while others donate their time or materials.
Giving back by helping others is good for everyone. You are offering real support from the heart to others who need it. And in return, you get even more support by making new friends and connections while strengthening your support system.
If You Need Help
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is help available. Call and speak to a caring staff member at English Mountain Recovery, located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. We will answer your questions and show you how to begin your journey to a clean and sober life.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.