One of the hardest things about recovery is having to deal with negative thoughts and feelings like guilt, shame, and stress. Yes, you probably made a lot of mistakes as an addict, but recovery is the time to make amends with your past and forgive yourself in order to start the process of healing.

Conquering those negative emotions and maintaining a positive state of mind can actually make a recovery easier and increase your chances of staying sober. I know it’s easier said than done; it will definitely take some effort, but it is possible. You will face many challenges during recovery, and you’ll be able to choose whether to let negative thoughts feed on your mind and body, and let them grow stronger at the expense of your life, or to see your situation in perspective, stay positive, and end your pessimism then and there.

But how do you achieve that? Well, it’s not like you’ll wake up tomorrow with a brand new, positive outlook on life. It’s a process, and it will be challenging. But a great way to start is to implement these 4 tips to stay positive during recovery in your daily life.

Surround Yourself With Positive People

As human beings, we are easily influenced by the people who surround us. The attitudes of your friends and family can affect your own, and most of the time, you don’t even notice it. Spending time with negative people will inevitably make you more vulnerable to start having negative thoughts and feelings, making your recovery process that much harder. But if you surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook on life, those who are experts at finding the silver lining in every situation and who are able to overcome life’s challenges while staying positive, you will be influenced by them and, little by little, you will adopt this mindset.

Furthermore, re-establishing and maintaining healthy relationships is a fundamental step in addiction recovery. Happy people usually identify having close relationships with others as one of the main criteria for staying positive. Finding people you have things in common with, maybe people that have gone through similar experiences and know what you’re going through is a great idea to form healthy, positive bonds.

Addiction tends to deteriorate your relationships, and you may have pushed away people that were important to you. This is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with them and show them you want -and will- get better. Re-establishing these relationships can sound scary and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by calling a couple of people you care about and who you want to make amends with this week, and see where that leads. Chances are they are rooting for you, and this positive energy and good wishes can be really helpful.

Take Care of Your Health 

Healthy body + healthy mind = happy life. Substance addiction can affect both your physical and mental health in many ways, from causing lung and heart disease, as well as different types of cancer, to triggering mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. When you’re struggling with this kind of consequence during recovery, it may seem impossible to keep a positive attitude towards life. But you can choose to see it as a great opportunity to start taking care of yourself in ways that you had never tried before.

For example, did you know that regular exercise can be as effective as medication at easing depression? And you’ll feel great physically, too. Exercise releases endorphins, a substance that causes feelings of happiness and euphoria. This sort of chemical reaction in your brain is exactly what you need to stay positive and in a good mood throughout the day. Physical activity can be really fun, too. If you’re not the kind of person to join a gym, try to join a sports team instead, try a yoga class or go for a jog around the block. There are many places where you can find these exercise options. For example, this outpatient rehab Pennsylvania offers yoga classes, hiking, kayaking, and many other activities as part of their treatment.

Another way to take care of your health is good nutrition. We tend to underestimate the impact that food has on our overall health. Highly processed foods that contain tons of sugar, fat, and hormones can affect your physical and mental health long-term, and that’s definitely something you don’t want right now. Try cutting out processed foods and drinks and choose a more natural diet instead, one that includes plenty of vegetables, water, and lean meats.

Be Careful What You Expose Yourself Too 

Just like people’s attitudes can affect our thoughts and feelings, what we see and listen to t.v and the internet can have this power, too. Yes, violent movies and t.v shows might be entertaining, but they can actually increase your levels of stress and wear you down. The news can have this effect too, maybe even more. They are usually full of crime, death, violence, and just plain negative stuff. Overexposing yourself to this content can be counterproductive if you’re trying to stay positive.

You should be careful with social media as well. Instagram, for example, is full of pictures of people with seemingly perfect lives, enjoying their vacations at a fancy location, or showing off their brand new car. In real life, most of them don’t have nearly as perfect lives as they would like their followers to believe. But it’s easy to fall for it and start feeling bad about not having a perfectly balanced, happy life. This is a good reason to try and spend less time on social media, or taking a break from it altogether. You’ll find yourself feeling much happier once you stop comparing yourself to others.

Give Thanks 

We all have more blessings than we think, so start counting them! Practicing gratitude every day can have such a positive effect on how you think about life and how you face its challenges. Yes, you’re going through a tough situation, and it can be difficult to have a thankful attitude right now, but it doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try. Start thinking about the things that you have, the things that are good in your life, the things or people that have helped you at some point in your life.

The great idea is to keep a gratitude journal. Each night before you go to bed, write down a positive thing that happened during the day that you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be something big. In fact, the small things, like being able to enjoy a delicious meal, having a nice conversation with a friend, or watching a movie that you really liked, are the ones that make the biggest difference. When you’re feeling down, take a look at all the positive things you’ve written down in your journal, and it will lift your spirits.

At the end of the day, staying positive is a choice you have to make every day when you wake up. It may not be easy at first, but applying these 4 tips to your daily life can help you improve your outlook on life and, therefore, help you have a smoother recovery. Give them a try! If you have any other tips for staying positive during recovery that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.