No matter your addiction journey, your past substance abuse has undoubtedly taken its toll on your health. Even if you were able to maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of your addiction, your body has a lot of healing to do in recovery. Fortunately, there are all kinds of ways to reclaim your good health. Use this guide, and your doctor’s advice, to move forward into sobriety with a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
Healing Your Body And Physical Health
When it comes to taking back your physical health, it isn’t just about repairing the damage caused while you were using. Your body must also go through (sometimes painful) detox and then re-learn how to function sober. It’s imperative that you nurture your body in sobriety — help it heal, provide it the nourishment it needs, and help it grow stronger.
The first step is committing to a healthy diet. You don’t have to give up all of the junk food you love, but you should use moderation and make a conscious effort to eat more nutritious foods. Swap out your usual side of fries for the steamed vegetables when you eat out, and give yourself nothing but healthy choices at home. Keep your body energized with healthy snacks like granola, fruit, and nuts throughout the day, and commit to a healthy three-meal schedule. Trying out new recipes and wholesome foods gives you a positive project to focus on, and you’ll start to feel physically better overall.
Staying active is another essential aspect of addiction recovery. Go for a walk around the block after work each evening, take daily morning jogs, or join a local gym. The activity can be just about anything, so pick something that will realistically work with your schedule and stick with it. Don’t push yourself too hard too quickly — often you’ll find opportunities to sneak in more physical activity to your day. Taking the stairs instead of elevator, parking your car farther back in the lot, and playing a game of backyard fetch with Fido are all simple but effective ways to get in some more exercise.
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When you’re ready to get into a regular exercise routine, consider recruiting a workout buddy or taking a group fitness class. There’s a class to fit every skill level and interest, and you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and create allies. Having a friend nearby to cheer you on and push you to work harder can help you stay focused, not to mention make the experience even more rewarding.
Healing Your Mind And Mental Health
Actively taking care of your mental health is the only option you have in addiction recovery; neglect it, and a relapse could be on the horizon. Be sure to have a support system in place, and cut out any negative relationships that could lead you back down an unhealthy path. Stay in close contact with your sponsor, especially in the early days of your recovery, and keep communication open and honest with your partner. Recovery is the first step to a happier life, but it’s got plenty of challenges on deck, so don’t hesitate to reach out when you need to.
If you were or are in addiction treatment, you’ve likely had experience with both individual and group counseling. Keep in mind that there’s no reason for you to end your pursuit for self discovery once you’ve left rehab; if it seems to be helping and you feel that there’s more work to do, find a counselor you can start seeing on a regular basis. Getting to the root of your addiction will be a confusing and emotional experience, but understanding your substance abuse completely is an important step in conquering it. Additionally, marriage and/or family counseling can help facilitate healthy conversations with your loved ones and pave the way for stronger relationships.
Meditation is another fantastic cognitive outlet for addiction recovery. It’s so easy to sit and worry about all the variables out of your control, but mindful meditation calls for you to stop, breathe, and consider only the present moment. Use it to start your morning or practice it right at your desk when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work. Incorporating both meditation and yoga into your routine gives you double the benefits — physical and mental.
Healing Your Spirit And The Soul
There are going to be plenty of things about addiction recovery that you don’t enjoy, plenty of things you must do even though you don’t want to. But in addition to all the healthy eating and exercise you’re getting, it’s important to make sure you’re also making time for the things that bring you joy and rejuvenate your spirit.
Some people use their newfound sobriety as a chance to explore new passions, while others might return to an old hobby. Be aware of your limitations and don’t put your recovery at risk: if your passion is music but you used to drink heavily at live shows, don’t head back to your old stomping grounds. Make adjustments — like finding a new music venue — so that you can enjoy yourself without being surrounded by temptation.
If you’re unsure how to bring some light back into your life, creative expression is a great place to start. Journaling, painting, dance, sculpture, and spoken word can all be as cathartic as they are enjoyable. Creative endeavors can not only help you cope with the obstacles of recovery, they allow you to commemorate each step you take and turn your journey into something beautiful. You can choose to share your work with others (your sober allies are a great place to start if you’re shy), or simply use your art as an outlet.
However you reignite the spark inside, make it a point to seek out inspiration whenever and wherever possible. In many ways, recovery is a second chance at life, so don’t miss out on all the beauty and opportunity around you.
A Healthy New Life Is Possible
Reclaiming your health after prolonged substance abuse isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely possible. Make self care a priority, and seek support as needed throughout your journey. The sober path will challenge you physically, mentally, and spiritually, but with the right habits and consistency, it can be the healthiest life you’ve ever lived.
- SMART Recovery — Self-Expression and Creativity: Managing Feelings
- Yogi Approved — Do You Or Someone You Know Struggle With Addiction? Here’s How a Yoga Practice Can Help
- Psychology Today — Mindfulness, Meditation, and Addiction
- Live Science — How to Start an Exercise Routine and Stick to It
- Psych Central — 5 Steps To A Strong (Sober) Social Support System
- Good Therapy — How to Find and Choose the Right Addiction Therapist
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction
- U.S. News Health — What's the Best Diet for Newly Sober Alcoholics and Addicts?
- Huffington Post — 20 Recipes That Make Healthy Taste Good
- Snack Nation — 121 Easy & Delicious Healthy Snacks For Every Type of Snacker
- University of California, Riverside: Wellness Program — Creating a Healthy Eating Plan
- The American Heart Association — Get Real About Getting Active