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Monday, November 22, 2021

Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

gratitude in recovery

You may know the usual story of Thanksgiving. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists joined with the Wampanoag Native Americans to share an autumn harvest feast and that was the beginning of our traditional Thanksgiving celebration. The event became a national holiday in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it so, in the midst of the nation’s Civil War. In recovery, though, why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Why do we count our blessings as we recover from an addiction?

Counting Blessings

How do you count your blessings at Thanksgiving and throughout the year? Going through treatment for an addiction to drugs or alcohol is not easy. You may have struggled to overcome your addiction, particularly if you had been living in addiction for some time. Knowing that you are now on your journey to recovery, though, is a huge blessing in your life.

One of the best ways to show your gratitude is through prayer. Expressing thanks through prayer reminds you of the blessings you are enjoying in recovery. Prayers of gratitude have also been linked to positive health outcomes. Mostly, prayer shows that you acknowledge your blessings as you live your life in recovery.

How Do You Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Beyond the meal and possible family gathering, there are many ways to practice “thanksgiving” in a real and meaningful sense in recovery. You can express thanks for simply being alive. In addition to prayer, spend some time each day meditating on the positive things that are going on in your life now. Do you have shelter and food? Are you making progress toward moving your life forward in a positive way?

Do you have a supportive network of friends and family members? Do you have the support of your treatment professionals? Express your thanks to these individuals in person or with a written note of gratitude. You can even “pay it forward,” expressing your gratitude to those who have helped you by doing something that will help another individual.

Consider what your life was like in addiction. Then focus on the positive of what your life is like now, in recovery. When you have the opportunity to walk in the fresh air and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you, say a prayer of thanksgiving. When you are able to sleep through the night and feel rested the next morning, express your gratitude on awakening. When you can enjoy a meal, such as a Thanksgiving feast, with supportive family and friends, tell each of them how much you appreciate them.

Gratitude in Recovery

Gratitude is one of the foundational principles of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). One of the Daily Reflections reads, “It is very important to keep in a grateful frame of mind if we want to stay sober.” Stories in the Big Book include one called “Gratitude in Action.” The social support encouraged by AA, which helps you develop important bonds in recovery, is formed by gratitude. Giving thanks can actually help keep you sober.

When you celebrate thanksgiving in its true sense recovery by expressing your gratitude to God and to those individuals who help and support you, you change the negative thinking that used to be a big part of your life in your addiction. Your sense of well-being is improved. You stop comparing yourself to other people and focus on the positives in your life now.

Benefits of Gratitude

There are many mental, physical, and emotional benefits of giving thanks. When you celebrate thanksgiving by showing your gratitude daily, you will see measurable positive effects on your life in recovery.

Being thankful can boost your immune system. When you are positive and focus on your overall sense of well-being, you reduce your stress level. That stress has been shown to lower your immune response but increased mental well-being can help you fight off illnesses. Practicing gratitude has even been shown to potentially reduce the risks associated with diseases such as heart failure.

Gratitude can improve your mental health. One study has shown that expressing thanks for the positives in your life can help ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Gratitude has been linked to improved mood overall, as giving thanks fosters positive feelings and contributes to a sense of well-being.

California Faith-Based Drug Addiction Treatment

Please contact Celebrate Hope to learn more about our faith-based addiction treatment program. Our team helps men and women break the cycle of addiction and begin anew, moving their life forward in a recovery filled with gratitude for their newfound blessings. We rely on the teachings of Jesus Christ, along with evidence-based therapies to get individuals on the path of recovery.

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