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If I could pick up a telescope and look at my life as it were ten years ago, the image would be about as dark as looking up at the night sky on a cloudy evening. By dark, I mean sitting in my room alone with a needle hanging off the side of my arm like a leech. Or maybe drinking myself to oblivion, waking up the next day with strange cuts and bruises on my face and knuckles and hoping I hadn’t put anyone in the hospital.

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Of course, when I was suffering from anxiety and depression, drugs and alcohol seemed like a great way to escape my problems and stress. The issue with that decision wasn’t clear to me at the time; that they were just an escape and not actually a solution to what I was going through. Even so, with the temptation of being able to put life on hold for a couple hours a day was almost irresistible. Before I knew it, I was a full-blown drug addict. Eventually, I knew that I needed to check into a drug rehab clinic before I ate away my own life. Once I got out, I put the gloves on and pushed myself to improve.

My research first started by simply asking friends and family like what they might have done to feel as though they had improved their lives. Of course, I got the standard replies such as improving my diet, exercising more, and smiling more. Don’t get me wrong, all of those are valid, especially considering that healthy individuals are 20% happier than average. However, I wanted to hear someone tell me something I hadn’t already heard several times before.

So maybe you’re reading this article because you too are thinking of taking a breath from the overbearing stress that you might be going through. You might be considering making a few improvements of your own. The first step is acknowledging that you would like to improve. So again, if you’re reading this, you’re already taking steps in the right direction. These five tips worked for me, so you can incorporate them in your own way to reach your definition of lifestyle satisfaction.

1. Stop Drinking (And Doing Drugs)

Okay, I need to get this one out of the way because it was a massive contribution to the betterment of my life and overall happiness. Whatever your current situation, there is one constant: seeking escape through artificial highs will always be a temporary solution. Once you remove them from your life, you start to focus on the ways you can change for the better without “pausing” your negative and unwanted emotions for a few hours at a time.

Aside from helping you look better, have more energy, more focus, and maintain relationships, there are many benefits to detoxing the body from alcohol. For drugs, it may depend on the type of drug you’re using that benefits may vary, so do your due diligence.

2. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness covers a wide range of practices such as meditation and yoga. By dictionary definition, it is described as:

“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

I won’t even begin to list the different ways practicing mindfulness has impacted my wellbeing and lifestyle. The fact that it has yet to become a global phenomenon still baffles me. By being aware of the present and accepting my past, I was able to leave it behind where it belongs and focus on shaping the new me, reborn again with a second chance.

The best part about practicing mindfulness is that you can combine it with a form of exercise such as yoga. That way, you get the benefits from exercise while also being able to accept yourself. For those of you who may be going through anxiety and depression-related issues like me, then mindfulness and yoga can also be applied to relieve those unwanted emotions.

3. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Many will shiver at the notion of getting out of their comfort zone. I get it, you like to feel safe. We all do, but you’ll never know what lies beyond the boundaries you set for yourself if you dare not cross them at some point in your life. Of course, this may vary on the type of person you are, as some people might consider going to a different bar on Saturdays as a comfort zone change while others might consider something like selling all their belongings and moving to Bolivia without a single Spanish word in their vocabulary.

Identify what scares you to the point where you can step outside your own boundaries, without going so far that your own fear inhibits your productivity.

4. Write

Start using a journal now. It’s not just about writing down your thoughts, but also about keeping track of your life goals. According to Huffington Post, keeping a journal or diary has been proven to increase creativity, boost self-confidence, improve communication skills and strengthen your self-discipline, among other things. I used it mainly to set goals for myself. Something about having them down on paper worked for me, and whether they were long or short-term goals, I always felt as if they were more achievable when I saw them daily written out in front of me.

5. Spend Some Money

Motivating yourself with rewards can go a long way depending on whether you achieve short-term goals or long-term goals. It doesn’t have to be anything big; a candy bar or a new pair of pants could suffice. The point is that by rewarding your steps forward you then gain more motivation to make improvements. I love video games, so whenever I achieved one of my short-term goals, I would go out and buy myself the latest release, or something similar. I almost immediately noticed the ways it impacted me. Every time I wanted a new game I would think something like what short-term goal can I complete so I can get the new Uncharted? My productivity skyrocketed, and thus, so did my lifestyle.

In short, those are five ways that I managed to improve my lifestyle after beating drug and alcohol addiction. The initial stages were difficult, especially during detox, but once I fully cut out substances and stopped chasing artificial highs, I was able to replace them with natural ones through Yoga. Not only that, but I furthermore got addicted to getting out of my comfort zone, writing, and rewarding my achievements. We all have our own definitions of happiness, and maybe you can use these five tips to be successful on your own terms.

Do you have any insider tips on how to improve your lifestyle? Please share them in the comments below!