In his book, Make Your Bed, Admiral William McRaven offers life lessons to those who are getting started in life, those who feel discouraged, and those who want to make a change but are not sure where to begin. His first life lesson is simple: Make your bed.Said Admiral McRaven: “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
In recovery, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the big picture. Staying focused on the task that is in front of us and nothing more is often touted as the best route forward. What exactly does that mean? And does it mean doing something simple like making your bed?
The Simple Things
Life is lived in the details, and while recovery may initially seem to be about sweeping changes, it is really about the small things we do every day. That is, rather than being the focus, staying sober is the effect of a thousand little choices we make every day. As Admiral McRaven points out, making your bed, though a seemingly small thing, can give you a sense of accomplishment as well as a safe place to return to at night.
What are some other small things you can do in recovery, not just in the morning but throughout the day, to continually take care of yourself and your space while boosting your ability to stay sober in the process? Here are just a few:
- Get up 15 minutes earlier.
- Eat a breakfast that consists of protein, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Choose water over soda.
- Get a checkup at the dentist.
- Walk instead of driving somewhere you need to go.
- Try tai chi in the park, a new kind of yoga class, or acupuncture.
- Send someone in your life a complimentary, inspirational, or funny text.
- Brush your teeth and floss.
- Go to bed at a decent hour.
You do not have to incorporate all of the above into your day in order to gain the benefits. Are you thirsty? Grab a big glass of water instead of a sugary drink. You’ll increase your hydration, which improves your energy and mental clarity, and you will save the money you might have otherwise spent on a latte or soda. It’s not much, but it’s a start, and you have already done something for yourself. Do it first thing in the morning, so if nothing else – just like making your bed – you have done one good thing for yourself to help you get started on your day.
The more that you can check off your list first thing, the more likely you are to do other things that will contribute to your ability to stay sober like hit that 12-Step meeting you want to go to, meet up with your therapist, journal about your recovery, etc.
In recovery, your perspective and mood play a huge role in your ability to stay sober. If you are tired, hungry, irritated by something little, or just otherwise don’t feel right, you may be more likely to find yourself with a drink in your hand or getting high. Making little choices that help you to feel solid and on track will go a long way toward helping you to avoid relapse for the long-term.
What little things can you do to boost your recovery and help you to feel emotionally and physically at your best?