More Tools for Your Recovery Toolkit

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A recovery toolkit (or “spiritual toolkit” or “spiritual toolbox”) is a set of action-based practices and strategies that support us in our recovery journey. These tools can help us feel more stable, happy, focused, or relaxed, and can help us navigate our triggers, cope with our cravings, and manage our emotions.

A while back, I shared an article called “What’s in Your Recovery Toolkit?” and mentioned that there were so many more options beyond those I’d included. Today, I want to share a few more of the tools that might serve you in your recovery.

More tools for your recovery toolkit:


Mindfulness is listening to yourself—paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, actions, and body. Mindfulness can help us feel more balanced and less stressed. When using mindfulness as a recovery tool, spend some time on:

  • Self-awareness: How are your mind and body feeling and acting? Be aware of your whole body, and of the thoughts and emotions going through you.
  • Staying present: Pay attention to what is happening in the present, as it unfolds. Don’t get caught dwelling in the past or future.
  • Non-judgment: Accept what you’re experiencing without labeling it or telling yourself stories about it.

One goal here is to avoid assuming what you “should” be thinking or feeling. You’re looking at what actually is, not some imaginary “should.” Try it—you might be surprised at how mindfulness can calm your thoughts.


Positive affirmations can counter the negative self-talk that many of us fall into and encourage our minds (over repeated practice) to build healthier, more confident thought patterns. When creating an affirmation:

  • Make it personal and specific.
  • Make it realistic and believable.
  • Keep it in the present tense (“I am” rather than “I will”).
  • Make it positive.
  • Make it memorable.
  • Repeat it regularly out loud.

It might feel a little silly the first time you say your affirmation. But over time and repetition, affirmations can help boost your self-confidence and encourage a more positive mindset.


Role-playing is a great strategy for preparing for uncomfortable situations or conversations. For example, you might role-play how you’ll turn down the offer of a drink or drug, or how you’ll respond to a particular comment. Plan out what you’ll say and do, and practice it out loud. This rehearsal will make it easier to put into effect if the situation pops up in real life. You can role-play on your own, or recruit someone trustworthy and understanding to help out by playing other roles.

Creative outlets

Creative outlets can help us process our emotions and express ourselves. Some people feel pressure around creativity (as though we have to be good at art in order to use it as a coping tool), but this is all about the process, not the finished result. You can try doodling, finger painting, sculpting with modeling clay or a more permanent medium, writing poems or song lyrics, making collages or scrapbook pages … the options are endless.


Volunteering or being of service to others can provide a big boost in recovery. It has been shown to reduce stress, create a sense of purpose and pride, and build connections to other people.

  • Volunteer for an existing organization, like signing up for shifts at a food pantry or animal shelter.
  • Get a group together to pick up litter or run a drive to collect food or hygiene products for those in need.
  • Do something individual, like visiting a local nursing home to do puzzles or play cards with residents.
  • If you’re part of a mutual support group, you can also pick up a service commitment to your group.


Don’t forget to give yourself credit for the progress you’re making. In early recovery, it is completely valid to give yourself a pat on the back for every day you stick to your recovery goals. You can also celebrate positive changes in other aspects of your life, like times you practiced good self-care, times you navigated a difficult situation or interaction, times you met your responsibilities or were honest even though it was difficult. For a few celebration ideas, check out our blog post, “How to Celebrate Someone’s Sobriety Birthday.”

Recovery content

You can find hope, inspiration, suggestions for coping, and more by consuming recovery media. This might include reading books (there’s a whole genre of “QuitLit”), listening to podcasts, reading blog posts like the ones we share here on the Workit Health blog, or listening to speaker tapes from recovery groups. Our world is full of amazing writers, speakers, and creatives in recovery who are sharing their experiences and stories.

Pets or plants

Pets can be an important support to folks in recovery. If you can have one—due to allergies, expenses, living situation, or just preference—some people find caring for plants similarly rewarding. And if you’re not up for the commitment of caring for pets or plants, you might still get a boost from playing with a friend’s pet or walking in a pretty garden or park.


There is a difference between reacting and responding, and it’s about giving yourself time to think. Practice pausing before saying something or taking action, especially when you encounter something that stirs up your emotions. Instead of going with your knee-jerk reaction, take a moment to consider what you’ve learned in recovery and what you would like your response to be.

Control your environment

It sounds weird, but making your physical surroundings a little more ordered can help your thoughts and emotions to feel a bit calmer and more ordered, as well. This doesn’t mean you have to engage in a hardcore cleaning spree! It can be something like throwing away the junk mail pile, putting away the clean laundry, or making the bed.


Give yourself something to laugh about. Watch a funny movie or show, listen to stand-up, swap humorous stories with your friends. You might even find yourself laughing about your substance use—one of the gifts of recovery is connecting with other people who can laugh about the absurd things we did and thought when we were in active addiction.

Recovery partners

My cheesy word for this is an “accountabili-buddy.” Your recovery partner is someone you can check in with regularly to support one another. Some folks exchange gratitude lists, affirmations, or encouraging memes with one another. Some have a conversation about how both partners are doing with their lives and recoveries. Whatever you choose to share, make sure you both feel safe to be honest and supportive.

New habits

A lot of what we focus on in recovery is breaking old, bad habits. But it can also be important to build new, more positive habits. What’s something you always said you wanted to do regularly? Stretch, exercise, meditate, take vitamins? Whatever it is, it’s often easier to start a new habit if you connect it to an existing one. For example, you can tie the new habit to something you already do daily, like bruising your teeth or charging your phone.

As I mentioned in the first article about building a recovery toolkit, it can be helpful to create a physical reminder of the tools that work for you. We call this a “Coping Card,” and you can write it on a card to keep in your pocket or wallet, or make a list on your phone—whatever will make it easy for you to find and use when a craving or painful situation crops up. Your Coping Card could include:

  • a list of several tools from your recovery toolkit
  • a reminder of why you’re in recovery
  • names and numbers of three people to call for support
  • a meaningful quote, slogan, or mantra

When you need a coping tool, your Coping Card can help you remember which ones to reach for.

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Alaine Sepulveda is a content strategist in recovery from alcohol. She believes that engaging people and sharing stories with them allows us to spread knowledge, and to help others in the path to recovery. She holds an MA in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University.

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