Focusing on Today Only Can Help You Get Through Tough Times

Most Twelve Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous stress the importance of making changes one day at a time. Somehow, this is a length of time that most people seem better able to handle than "forever." If someone asks you to make a major change that will last the rest of your life, it may seem like an overwhelming task. However, if you try to make a change for just today, almost anyone can manage to do it. If you get up each morning telling yourself that you only have to try to practice your new life changes on this day only, it seems much easier to handle. In addition, if you fail sometimes to reach your goals, you will still feel as though you can start over tomorrow … continuing to improve your life a little at a time. You can use this approach with virtually any negative character trait or behavior you want to change. What are some of the changes you can make "one day at a time?"

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Stop Smoking

The idea behind The Great American Smokeout is to ask people to give up smoking for just one day. This annual event is held each year on the third Thursday in November. The creators of this event believe that, if people give up smoking for a day, they will realize that they survived their day of abstinence and that they could give it up another day, as well. Gradually, trying this new lifestyle turns into a whole string of days … and you realize that it has been a long time since you craved a cigarette! The Food and Drug Administration, the American Cancer Society, and the American Lung Association all support the Great American Smokeout. Special events are held in shopping malls, community centers, hospitals and other public locations across the United States. You can find out more about it by reading, "The Great American Smokeout."

Stop Drinking One Day at a Time

Alcoholics Anonymous is, perhaps, the most famous organization to use the principle of living your life and staying sober one day at a time. They realize that most alcoholics would feel overwhelmed at the prospect of never drinking again. In addition, if the person is truly addicted to alcohol, just the very idea of not drinking can be extremely frightening. However, most alcoholics have had to go without drinking occasionally for a day or two. Perhaps they were sick, or on a trip, or had some very important matter to take care of, so they stopped drinking for a few days. Some alcoholics even tend to be binge drinkers. They may drink heavily for a period of time, separated by days or even weeks of sobriety. Therefore, the idea of just staying sober for a short time is something that they are confident they can manage. In Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholics are encouraged to only think about staying sober for just that one day only … and not to think about all the other weeks and years that lay ahead. If you want more information about the best ways to stop drinking, you may want to read "The Best Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs."

Improve Your Diet

Overeaters Anonymous is based on the same 12 Steps that are used in Alcoholics Anonymous. However, if you are addicted to overeating you have to deal with the fact that you cannot simply stop eating for the rest of your life, or even for a day. Instead, you are asked to only take those steps that you are comfortable with and stick with them, one day at a time. For example, you may decide that you are going to eliminate white sugar from your diet. Knowing that you may occasionally have slips, you will concentrate on just giving it up for today, only. Gradually, you may find that you no longer need it at all. The same process will be true for other foods that have been your "triggers," or foods that have tended to cause you to overeat.

Increase Your Exercise

Getting some exercise each day, every day, for the rest of your life may seem like more work than you will ever be able to manage. However, if you wake up each morning and make the decision that, at least for today only, you will get up and exercise, you will begin to feel more comfortable with your plans. Each day you can decide on just one thing that you can do that day for exercise. Perhaps you will do leg lifts and bicycle your legs while you are still in bed that morning. Or, you might go for a walk … either outside or on the treadmill. How about taking a couple of brisk laps around your local mall? If you invite a friend to go with you, it can be a fun way to get exercise in the winter, or on a rainy afternoon. Whatever you decide to do, just plan your exercise for today only and you will soon find that it is easier to stick with it.

Lower Stress

Simply taking the action of making the above changes to your life will do wonders towards lowering your stress. It is well known that a lack of exercise, heavy drinking and smoking can all contribute to feeling nervous or stressed out. Changing those behaviors will give your body the chance it needs to relax and feel calmer. If, in addition, you take some time each day to relax, pray, meditate or do something that you find enjoyable, you will find that your stress level will decrease dramatically. It is natural for everyone to have some stress in their lives. However, learning to manage it in a healthy way is an important aspect of living a happy, enjoyable life.

If you are trying to improve your life and make a fresh start each day, you may also be interested in reading:

A Healing Meditation

Spiritual Meditation Mantras

Avoid Holiday Alcohol Abuse

The Great American Smokeout

Alanon and the Serenity Prayer

Products to Help You Quit Smoking

A Meditation Book from Alanon

For Families of Alcoholics

One Day at a Time in Al-Anon
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AA and Alanon are two of the most famous organizations to use the slogan "One Day at a Time."