Finding Balance for Healthy Living in Recovery
For those of us in recovery, it is important for us to engage in healthy habits to live our best life in sobriety. With the demands and stressors in our lives, it can be difficult to find the time to take care of ourselves. This new way of thinking is not limited to those in early recovery but rather it is beneficial to all those struggling with indulging in unhealthy habits. There are countless advantages associated with living healthy. Healthy living is not limited to being physically fit but also requires mental health balance as well. As a woman in recovery, I have found these habits to be particularly beneficial for me, and others around me.
For an addict, such as myself, the last thing I wanted to do when I first got sober was to be physically active. In fact, I preferred to go into hiding and wallow in self-pity. This only proved to be counterproductive to the new life I was seeking. Countless studies have shown the unlimited benefits of exercise in connection with mental health wellbeing. Within the rooms of The Fellowship, it’s been said “move your feet, change your thoughts” This still rings true today. When I find myself in a messy headspace I have found physical activity to be the remedy. According to Psychology Today: “Exercise directly affects the brain. Regular exercise increases the volume of certain brain regions — in part through better blood supply that improves neuronal health by improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients; and through an increase in neurotrophic factors and neurohormones that support neuron signaling, growth, and connections.”
Not only is physical activity beneficial for your mental health but staying active can also help mitigate cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It’s no secret that depression can lead an individual to feel overly tired, weak, and completely unmotivated. Exercise can induce the production of dopamine, which is the brain’s natural “happiness” chemical. Studies have also shown the growth of new brain cells to be a direct result of even going for a brief stroll. From cleaning the house, going for a walk, putting on makeup (with no plans to leave the house) can work wonders. Sometimes the phrase “fake it ‘till you make it” serves the desired outcome. As addicts, we have the innate habit of obsessing and indulging in over almost everything. The purpose is to distract the brain and encourage a new thought to sweep in and replace the craving.
It’s not uncommon for sleep patterns to be all out of whack, in early recovery. In fact, this is the common theme for addicts actively using and carries over into early recovery. Just as a car struggles to operate with little gas, we need adequate sleep to function at our fullest potential. Studies have linked sleep deprivation to relapse and other complications. Exercise, meditation, and creating sleep rituals can all help manifest adequate sleep. The main functionality of sleep is restoration. It’s no secret that addiction can cause substantial damage to the individual mentally and physically. Sleep is crucial in aiding the overall recovery process.
Mindfulness is rooted in ancient Buddhism practices. The goal of mindfulness is enlightenment which refers to awareness, attention, and remembering. Raising awareness, raising attention to, and remembering the goal can help the individual manifest their own ideas. Mindfulness meditation is especially beneficial to individuals in early recovery. Mindfulness has been attributed to lowering feelings of anxiety/depression, controlling the body’s reaction to stressors, aiding in pain management, and identifying/processing emotions.
Mindfulness comes in many forms. The idea of “living in the moment” is hinged upon mindfulness. Stepping back, taking an objective view, and accepting things exactly as they are, is the best way to practice mindfulness. Mindful eating, moving meditation (yoga/tai chi), and mindful breathing are other ways to implement this practice into your daily routine. Mindfulness has been attributed to lowering feelings of anxiety/depression, controlling the body’s reaction to stressors, aiding in pain management, and identifying/processing emotions. Recovery requires awareness, balance, and control which can be cultivated through many meditative practices. Chaos and meditation cannot coexist. Meditation cultivates awareness and disrupts unmanageability.
Living a healthy lifestyle, free from addiction, can seem like a daunting task. Cravings may still arise, but if we continue to relish in the things that feed our soul, the frequency and intensity of cravings decrease dramatically. It is pivotal addicts to plug into their local sober support and maintain fellowship with other addicts as well. In order to achieve long-term sobriety, it is important for the individual to completely abandon themselves to an entirely new way of living. If diligent, in integrating healthy habits within mind, body, and soul, we are sure to find the change almost immediately.
Tricia Moceo is an Outreach Specialist for Recovery Local, a local addiction/recovery based marketing company. She advocates long-term sobriety by writing for websites like detoxlocal.com, providing resources to recovering addicts and shedding light on the disease of addiction. Tricia is a mother of two, actively involved in her local recovery community, and is passionate about helping other women find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.
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