Falling into Healthy Habits in Recovery
The journey to long-term sobriety is not just putting down those substances that are problematic for you. It is important to commit to living a healthier lifestyle, which includes taking additional measures to improve your overall well-being. Developing good health habits is an essential component in building a new life in recovery. These good health habits will enhance your recovery by helping your mind and body function and even aid in the management of post-acute withdrawal syndrome.
Post-acute withdrawal is prolonged withdrawal, around a couple of months to a year, that includes psychological and mood-related symptoms. The mood-related symptoms can be depression, mood swings, hostility and irritability, trouble sleeping, exhaustion, and inability to feel pleasure. The physical symptoms present as aches, pains, headaches, and other physical symptoms. Replacing self-destructive behaviors with healthier, pro-sobriety good habits will put you on the path to building a life worth living in recovery.
Eat a Healthy Diet
There is a reason for the saying “food equals mood.” What we put into our bodies has a direct effect on our mood. Substance use harms the mind and body, so an essential part of recovery involves healing them from the damage. Addiction impacts how our organs function and will help contribute to the development of poor eating habits. Some changes to aid in the recovery process are:
- Get an adequate amount of food every day – eat only when hungry and just until
you are full
- Drink enough water to stay hydrated
- Avoid sugar while increasing protein, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
- Avoid caffeine
- Find nutritious, whole foods that your body can digest
- Consult with a dietician if you are unsure of what you should be eating
Add Exercise Into Your Routine
Exercise can increase your chance of a successful recovery because physical activity helps your mind and body recover. Ten minutes of exercise is all it takes to get your blood pumping and increase the oxygen flow to your brain and muscles. In early recovery, the chemicals in our brains that regulate our mood are trying to get back to normal function.
Any type of body movement we can do will help the natural flow of dopamine and endorphins. You do not need an expensive gym membership or a commitment of many hours a day to find ways to stay active. Simply walk up and down the stairs, go for a walk outside, stretch, or just find a way to move your body. Remember to set realistic goals for yourself to avoid getting discouraged.
Practice Healthy Sleep Hygiene
Sleep probably fell to the wayside during active use! With post-acute withdrawals, we are likely to suffer from fatigue and have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. Adults need on average 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Anxiety and racing thoughts can make it hard to fall and stay asleep. Some of us will just want to sleep all the time. Implementing healthy sleep hygiene will help you get the most out of your sleep.
- Create a regular sleep schedule and stick to it
- Avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime
- Limit naps – Even short naps can wreak havoc on a sleep schedule!
- Establish a bedtime routine (reading, meditating, praying)
- Eliminate as much stimulation as possible (no electronics)
Fellowship – Make Meaningful Connections
During active addiction, we often lose our meaningful connections with those around us. Addiction drives us into isolation and an important piece of recovery is building up sober supports. By actively working on improving relationships with those around us, we can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness which can often be a trigger for use. Creating a network of sober support will have a positive impact on your social and emotional health.
- Reconnect with family and friends
- Go to therapy with family and loved ones
- Form new relationships at work or recreational activities
- Join a self-help group (AA, NA, SMART Recovery, Dharma Recovery)
Develop and Nurture Interests
Like many parts of our lives during active use, we likely let go of our hobbies and interests. Hobbies relieve stress and can improve your emotional and mental well-being. When thinking about some of our triggers for relapse, we know idle time and boredom are two of the most common ones. Engaging in hobbies can help keep your mind off triggers. Early recovery is a great time to visit old hobbies that brought you joy in the past or explore new hobbies.
- Community activities – join a club or group
- Volunteer/give back to your community
- Take classes – because you want to!
- Attend an event that is new to you
- Explore the area you live in with sober support
At Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we encourage our clients in early recovery to practice these healthy habits. Through group and individual therapy, clients begin to learn the skills necessary to develop good health habits that are an essential component in building a new life in recovery. We offer a wide range of clinical programming that focuses on the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. The beginning of healthy behaviors can happen through treatment and continue on the path of long-term recovery post-treatment. So, which of these tips will you start to implement today?