What Taking it One Day at a Time Really Means

If you or someone you know has participated in a 12-step program for addiction recovery, you have likely heard the common adage about taking sobriety one day at a time.  While this phrase is thrown around frequently in the recovery community, it can be useful to take a step back and determine what these words mean for you and your personal journey.  Often, we hear a familiar phrase or bit of wisdom so many times that the words begin to lose their meaning and we forget the value behind them. In this case, taking your recovery one day at a time continues to be an incredibly powerful tool that carries with it many helpful applications for creating lasting sobriety and a lifetime of wellness.

Recommitting Every Day

Taking your recovery one day at a time means waking up and recommitting to the process every single day.  This means that despite what stressful circumstances you may be facing in life, and regardless of what happened yesterday, you are making the conscious choice to carry on in your commitment to sobriety.  Sobriety is a choice that you make every day and continue to make for as long as you wish to better yourself and your life after addiction. This includes recommitting to your recovery even when finding hope and motivation is especially difficult, such as after a relapse.  Although relapse can be devastating for you and your loved ones, it is not a reason to beat yourself up or begin to distrust yourself. Instead, relapse can become an opportunity to prove to yourself that you can always pick yourself back up and hold yourself accountable for the creation of a better tomorrow. By always choosing to recommit to yourself and your sobriety, you are making a sacred vow to never give up on yourself, and to push through even the most challenging of times.  It can help to turn your daily commitment into a ritual of some kind, possibly saying your promise out loud to yourself in the mirror every morning. The act of making a spoken promise to yourself will solidify your daily intention and help you to get through each day with unwavering sobriety.

Staying Present

The intention behind taking it one day at a time grounds you in the present moment, which can be an incredible tool for addiction recovery, mental health, and spiritual wellness.  Learning to stay present, often referred to as practicing mindfulness, is a skill that has been encouraged for thousands of years by spiritual practitioners as a pathway to the experience of God.  More recently, studies have found that the practice of mindfulness reduces anxiety and depression while also improving cognitive ability and allowing you to enjoy life more fully. When it comes to addiction recovery, staying present means letting go of your regrets and refraining from worrying too much about the future, but instead finding peace in your present moment of sobriety.  Allowing yourself to become overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and shame due to past behavior can lead to relapse, as can excessive worry about your ability to maintain sobriety in the future. By eliminating all worry that isn’t concerned with the here and now, you can focus on what you can control and practice letting go of everything else. 

Tackling One Problem at a Time

Above all, taking your recovery one day at a time prevents you from becoming dangerously overwhelmed in what will likely be one of the most complex and challenging times of your life.  Addiction causes many problems that often go ignored for years as substance abuse escalates. Once you have begun a recovery program and are working to maintain your sobriety, you must also begin the hard work of repairing the damage addiction has inflicted on every aspect of your life.  You may have financial troubles, relationship issues, and deteriorating mental health to deal with, and facing these challenges sober can be incredibly stressful. By taking it one day at a time you can remind yourself that you aren’t required to fix every problem in your life all at once in order to eventually achieve happiness and balance.  With new sobriety and complex circumstances also comes a wide array of emotions that you will be forced to confront in your recovery. It is important to remember that you can’t force yourself to work through every emotional hurdle in a short period of time to speed up the recovery process, but each emotion must be completely experienced and processed in a way that fosters lasting healing.  In this way, taking it one day at a time might mean allowing yourself to spend the day feeling sad or angry, but also taking productive steps to process that feeling such as meeting with a counselor or meditating.  


If you believe you or someone you love has developed an addiction to, now is the time to seek help.  At Burning Tree, you will find knowledgeable and compassionate professionals that structure treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders.  Through accountability and commitment to the 12 steps, each client will develop the tools to create a sober lifestyle and find lasting recovery. We specialize in the treatment of chronic relapsers, and believe with the right support you can experience true and permanent healing.  For more information, call us now at 866-287-2877.   



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