What Does the Phrase “One Day At A Time” Mean?

The phrase ‘take it one day at a time’ is pretty popular in the United States. People use it to calm others, or themselves, down when they can’t help but worry about what lies ahead.

While this saying can benefit almost everyone, it is especially helpful for those who are recovering from substance abuse issues. How does such a short phrase carry so much weight?

The Dictionary Definition

According to Merriam-Webster, taking it one day at a time means, “to deal with each day’s problems as they come instead of worrying about the future. The phrase is commonly used as advice when someone is thinking too far ahead or expecting issues or change overnight.

What It Means to Live One Day At A Time

This term is used to help individuals focus on the present. If you’re dwelling on the past or thinking about the future, you won’t be able to fully live in the now. Taking each day it comes, according to the saying, will help us accept and enjoy what is happening right in front of us.

The past has already happened, and we can’t do anything to change that. As for the future, we have no idea what is going to happen in our lives. Realistically, our lives could exceed all our plans or even fall short of expectations. But if we’re not taking time to enjoy it while it’s happening, it’ll pass us by.

How This Phrase Relates to Addiction

If someone who is recovering from an addiction tries to think too ahead or take on too much during their journey, they will eventually deflate. This could lead to more mental health issues or even a relapse. Instead, those who are new to sobriety are encouraged to focus on what each day brings in the present.

Using “One Day At A Time” in Rehabilitation

The phrase “one day at a time” is usually used as part of the 12 Step Program in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other recovery groups. AA encourages their participants to only think about staying sober for the next 24 hours. If they can do that every day, it’ll get easier as they go along.

AA groups do not try to help participants find a cure for their addiction; instead, they support members through their current struggles and give them motivation to keep going.

Taking It One Day At A Time In Recovery

If you pledge to stick to something for 24 hours, you might get used to it over time. Tell yourself to do something positive every day, and you may just get there. For example, you can commit to being happy for the next 24 hours; or you can promise to learn one new thing. By challenging yourself daily instead of expecting too much from yourself, you can hopefully ease your mind.

After the Meetings: Living One Day At A Time

Everyone who attends AA meetings is encouraged to continue going throughout their recovery journey to help others who are just starting. Once you learn how to live one day at a time, you can pass your knowledge down to someone else who could benefit from practicing mindfulness themselves.

To learn more about taking it one day at a time and how it can relate to recovery, contact our mental health and substance abuse professionals by visiting us here or calling 866-345-2147.

Sources

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/take%20one%20day%20at%20a%20time

https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/9244/one-day-at-a-time/

https://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-recovery/aftercare/one-day-at-a-time/