Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction requires every ounce of personal strength you can muster. That’s why it’s so important to care for your physical and mental health throughout the recovery process, especially in the unsettling times we’re currently living in thanks to the pandemic. However, after months or years in active addiction, you may feel unsure of what a healthy lifestyle looks like.
Use this guide from the Institute for Wholehearted Men to learn which healthy habits you should incorporate into your recovery and how to do it.
Exercise is hailed as an integral part of addiction recovery. Exercise not only heals the body from the damages of substance abuse, it also builds up your mental health and adds structure and purpose to your days. According to The Doctor Weighs, exercise improves your moods so you’re less prone to the anger, stress and negative thinking that drive you to use. And because exercise involves setting goals and improving yourself, it’s a natural complement to the recovery process.
You don’t have to run marathons to reap the benefits of exercise in addiction recovery. Create a personal fitness plan based on your current health status. If that means starting with walking, that’s fine! Walking has multiple health benefits and is a great way to ease into a healthier routine.
Yoga is another form of exercise that is safe for all levels of fitness because it can be easily modified to meet your needs, and because it’s a mind-body practice, it offers people in recovery multiple benefits both physically and emotionally. Whatever activity you choose, the important thing is to make doing it a habit and constantly working to improve your physical health.
Healthy distractions can be a big win when it comes to averting old temptations, as can setting new goals. For example, you can improve your career prospects by going back to school and earning a higher-education degree. This is more accessible and affordable than ever these days thanks to online programs like those offered by Western Governors University. If you’re tech savvy, a master’s degree in information technology allows you to learn about IT management, data analytics, or cybersecurity. Some programs also offer specialized degrees such as cloud computing, as well as cross-discipline degrees such as an MBA in IT management.
You are what you eat, drink and smoke. Now that you’re taking care of the last two, it’s time to fix your diet as well. Nutrition suffers during active addiction, giving rise to nutritional deficiencies that impair physical and mental health. Eating a well-balanced diet in recovery corrects those deficiencies so your mind and body can function their best. As MedlinePlus points out, a good diet also promotes feelings of wellness — and when you feel your best, you’re less likely to start using drugs or alcohol again.
Addiction often distorts a person’s sense of hunger. You may not realize when you’re hungry or interpret hunger as drug and alcohol cravings. For that reason, you shouldn’t rely on instinct to guide your eating habits. Instead, schedule regular mealtimes and plan meals to include appropriate amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, fats and fiber — there are even foods you can include that have been scientifically shown to ease symptoms of depression, a common concern for those with addiction. Also be sure to drink fluids with meals and throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
Poor sleep is associated with irritability, relationship problems and depression. It’s known to promote anxiety, weight gain and heart problems, and it affects your ability to think clearly and make good decisions.
If you want to manage cravings and reduce the risk of relapse, quality sleep is a must. Setting a regular bedtime that allows for eight to nine hours of sleep per night is the first step to take. However, good sleep isn’t only about spending the right number of hours in bed each night. Your bedroom should be cool, dark and calming to promote quality sleep.
When you feel your best, you can give your best. And with a process as important and challenging as addiction recovery, you’ll need your best to succeed. Whether you’re new to recovery or seeking to renew your dedication to sober living, these healthy habits will support your journey.
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