Healing from Addiction – Kimberly Hayes
Incorporating physical fitness into addiction recovery is crucial for long-term success. Fitness boosts confidence and willpower, facilitates control over cravings, reverses accelerated aging that results from addiction, and increases a healthy sense of well-being.
Exercises to Try
Because drug and alcohol abuse can cause serious damage to your body’s organs and muscles, start slowly and build up, and be willing to try new activities so you can discover what makes you feel your best.
Everyone benefits from swimming, especially those experiencing joint or muscle pain resulting from substance abuse. Water’s buoyancy significantly reduces pressure on the body and is calming, meditative, and soothing. The variety of water activities you can try ensures that you’ll get a good workout whenever you’re in the water.
This activity blends the mental and physical aspects of exercise to provide a whole-body workout. You’ll learn to focus on the present and to let go of worries and stressors. When paired with meditation, you’ll gain coping tools to calm your mind and overcome temptations and cravings. You don’t have to go to an expensive, members-only studio to participate in either of these practices; simply set aside a quiet space at home with soft lighting, soothing colors, and minimal distracting elements (like electronics), and follow a guided yoga or meditation session on a site such as YouTube.
Maintaining sobriety often requires you to end unhealthy past relationships, but experts know that relationships — good, supportive ones — are important as you heal. A great way to build new friendships is to play a team sport, like softball, basketball, or soccer.
Experts agree that nature offers a therapy all its own. From sunshine’s vitamin D to fresh air, it’s the perfect place to heal. When you lace up your hiking boots, you’ll reap the benefits of an improved mood and lower stress levels.
Put on your favorite tunes. Whether you take lessons, a Zumba class, or cut a rug in your living room, dancing improves your mood, gets your heart pumping and blood moving, and increases flexibility, too. It’s a joyous way to escape from everyday stress.
Addressing Mental Health During Addiction Recovery
Taking care of your mental health while you recover from addiction is an absolutely critical component not just for achieving and maintaining sobriety, but living a healthy, fulfilling life.
The emotional, psychological, and social make-up that comprise mental health make it a pretty complicated element to care for — but not an impossibility. Try these tips.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Avoid eating too much junk and processed foods, especially those that have empty sugars and carbohydrates. Choose a well-balanced diet with lean proteins, healthy fats, low-fat dairy, and fruits and vegetables.
Prioritize good sleep
Sleep is intertwined with good mental health. A Harvard study concluded that sleep issues can contribute to psychiatric disorders. Develop healthy sleep habits, as sleep deprivation significantly harms mental health.
Self-care is not the same as selfishness. Take time to reconnect with yourself, perhaps through yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness activities. Reach out and cultivate positive, healthy relationships with family, friends, and your community — but most importantly, with yourself.
Maintaining an All-Around Healthy Routine for the Long Haul
On average, it takes about two months for new behaviors to become automatic, and anywhere from 18 days to eight and a half months to form a new habit. When you’re in recovery, it makes sense to create a routine, which helps you to:
Reduce the possibility of relapse.
Increase your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Manage stress more effectively and healthily.
Exercise and Your Brain
Did you know that when you exercise regularly, your memory and thinking skills improve? Many neurobiological effects result from exercise, including better cognitive control of behavior and improved information processing; improved declarative, spatial, and working memory; less severe depression; and protection from neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It also helps to treat and manage drug addictions. Learn more about the transformative effects of exercise on your brain in this TED Talk by neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki.
Physical Fitness: A Balm for Addiction Recovery
A growing number of research studies have indicated that exercise:
Enhances overall mental and physical health.
Improves moods naturally by releasing endorphins to create a natural high.
Reduces the physical and mental effects of withdrawal.
Relieves stress by providing a healthy outlet for pent-up frustrations and tension.
Heals physical damage addiction causes.
Recovering addicts who incorporate exercise into their treatment plans find it rewarding, engaging, and healthy, so set your first goal and start today.