Writing down 5 things to make you smile is an exercise that helps people in recovery learn how to be mindful and focus their attention on positive things in their lives. Performing it as a daily ritual can be more challenging than you might think, but making it a habit is a way to slowly ease feelings of depression and increase self-esteem.
The smile exercise reminds those participating in the exercise that they have things to smile about, if they take the time to notice them, and that positive thoughts and experiences can be found in the most simple of places.
Tips For The “Smile” Exercise
Here are some helpful and simple tips to make the smile exercise effective for those in recovery:
Write The Items Down
Simply thinking of or looking for things to smile about isn’t enough. They won’t be committed to memory. The act of writing them down on paper means there is a record that can be referred back to at a later time.
Anything Can Be Placed On The List
If it’s “smile-worthy,” it can be added. Nothing is too small to be used. Each person will have their own ideas about what can be put on the list, and as long as it’s positive and makes them smile, it’s a valid entry.
Make It A Daily Habit
Being aware of things that make one smile is not something that should be done once and then stopped. Only by repeating the process daily can it become a habit and really start to change a person’s mindset over the long term to something more positive.
Examples Of 5 Things To Make You Smile In Recovery
Here is an example of what a smiles list could look like:
- I woke up without a headache or feeling sick today.
- The sunshine feels warm against my skin when I go outside. I look up at the sky and notice that there are (no clouds/a few clouds) and I feel energized.
- I downloaded some of my favorite music from a positive in my life to my phone/music player so I can listen to it whenever I want to. It brings back fond memories.
- My first cup of coffee today is hot and strong. I take my time with it so that I can really enjoy it. The extra five minutes is time for myself, and I’m worth it.
- I hugged my spouse/partner/kid/pet today. It made me feel safe, warm, and loved.
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Dr. Bhalavat is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, and provides inpatient evaluation and consultation services at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital, Maryland Recovery Partners, and Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Bhalavat’s background includes treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and dementia.