Creating a healthy lifestyle is essential in recovery. Our body is transitioning through physical, mental, emotional and psychological changes. I believe there are several different ways to create a healthy lifestyle and maintain it. This includes physical activity, diet, meditation, attending meetings, sponsorship, the twelve steps, therapy and medications.
Physical activity can be extremely beneficial to people in recovery. Physical activity can boost mental and emotional health. It is also a great hobby to occupy time. It can keep your mind off of drugs and alcohol. It can help relieve stress and release tension. Physical activity can come in several different forms. The beauty of physical activity is the various options available that fit your needs and lifestyle. You can join a regular gym, work out at home, start a jogging/running routine, take up yoga or my personal favorite- martial arts.
I have found that physical activity puts me in a better mood and boosts my self-confidence. You should also feel a lot more energetic. Physical activity also keeps you focused and mindful in the present moment. Your mind is less likely to wander while exercising. It can erase negative thought patterns. It easily takes any cravings away. I highly recommend physical activity especially when craving or feeling triggered.
Physical activity can obviously be beneficial to your physical health. Nothing feels better than pushing yourself. Seeing and feeling the results is amazing. The more you do it, the easier it gets. For people in recovery, it can be difficult to be motivated starting out. I have found that once you get the routine going and stick with it, it becomes very worthwhile. I highly recommend getting some form of exercise even if it is only a few times a week. Anything is better than nothing. Just be sure not to overexert yourself.
Sticking to a healthy diet can be beneficial to physical and mental health as well. I struggled with a severe loss of appetite in early recovery. As time went on, I noticed I was happier when I was not only eating but eating right. I recommend a steady diet of fruits and vegetables along with protein-packed meats. Try to stay away from highly processed foods or junk foods. Sugar and caffeine are highly addictive substances so it only makes sense to cut them out or limit yourself. A healthy diet can go a long ways in improving your health.
Meditation is a very common practice in treatment centers and recovery. The idea of meditation is to be mindful. Mindfulness is living in the present moment, being aware of and accepting your own thoughts and feelings. It is an excellent way to let go of negative thought patterns. Meditation can keep you relaxed, calm and focused. Meditation is great if you are craving or feeling triggered. It can also help relieve bouts of depression, stress or anxiety. I highly recommend creating a meditation routine throughout the day.
The fellowship of programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are an extremely vital part to creating a healthy lifestyle in recovery. The program is open and accepting to everyone. Any newcomers are welcome and encouraged to continue attendance. The best part about the programs are that they do not judge anyone. Some of the strongest, most genuine people are found in the rooms of AA and NA. This is for the simple fact that they decided they wanted to better their lives and themselves. I have heard stories from others that made me realize I really was not so different after all. There is a lot of wisdom and love in the rooms of these programs. I suggest finding a meeting with people that appeal to you and make it your home group. You can meet people who share the same goals and build a healthy, strong support network. Members are always there if you feel the need to reach out
Finding a great sponsor is important. I suggest getting a sponsor who has a lot of clean and sober time. I think ten years or more is best. A sponsor should always be willing and able to talk to in your time of need. Take the time to find a sponsor that you connect with and relate to on all levels. Find a sponsor that shares a similar story to yours. I say this because you want someone who has already been in your shoes. This is important for when your sponsor starts to guide you through the twelve steps.
Working The Twelve Steps
The twelve steps are a wonderful guide to living. The twelve steps can even be applied by people who are not even in recovery. I do believe it is critical to take your time and work the steps thoroughly with your sponsor rather than rush through it. The twelve steps are a great way to get rid of all the baggage and let go of our dark past. It can help us reconnect and rebuild bridges with family, friends and loved ones. It allows us the chance to forgive ourselves but others as well for any wrongdoings.
Avoid Triggers & Toxic People
Avoiding triggers is a lot easier said than done as they can be anywhere for people in recovery. Walking past the wine and beer section or driving through an area you associate with getting high are two examples. Triggers can come in the form of anything depending on the person. Common examples of this are a song playing on the radio or old pictures. A simple object could trigger a traumatic memory or experience in our past. Triggers cannot be completely avoided but they can be reduced. I am a big believer in cutting out everyone that is toxic to your sobriety. This can include drug dealers, close or distant family members, friends, ex-lovers and anyone associated to them. Lose contact with anyone who can be harmful to your physical, mental or emotional wellness. With the popular rise of social media, block and cut out both people and content that could be triggers.
Seek Therapy & Medication
A lot of people who struggle with substance misuse also struggle with mental health issues. These are known as dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. I recommend seeking a therapist for mental and emotional support. Being able to speak to a professional about any problems or issues can never hurt especially in recovery. You can also talk to your therapist about anything you would not feel comfortable talking to anyone else about. I would consider medications for any kind of mental health issues you may be struggling with. Finding the right medication can make a difference in stabilizing your mood. Make sure you get a medication that is non-addictive, safe and cannot be misused.
Guest post by Kevin Repass
Kevin is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He is a writer for a south Florida-based company dedicated to providing resources and information to all those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
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