Guest Post by Michelle Peterson
The goal of recovery isn’t simply “clean and sober” living—although that’s a very important component—but also creating a stable, strong foundation on which to rebuild your life.
It takes most people between two and six months—66 days is average—to form a new habit. Fortunately most experts agree that creating new, healthy habits isn’t an “all or nothing” proposition. If you’re in recovery and seeking to adopt and incorporate healthy habits to help you maintain your sobriety, we’ve got some great ideas for you.
It’s tempting to hide away as you heal, but that’s rarely a healthy option. If depression has contributed to your addiction, you’ll find that exercise can reduce depression symptoms and effects. A good workout also reduces stress and releases endorphins, which promote a sense of energy and wellbeing.
There’s no need to join a gym, if that’s not your thing. Go for walks or hikes. Join a team or find a recreational sport you enjoy. Play with your pets or children. Ride your bike.
First, try to eat only when you’re actually hungry. If you’re a snacker, stock your pantry with healthy options, especially foods with a variety of textures. When you do eat, take your time to savor each bite.
Struggling to return to healthy eating? Why not work with a health coach or nutritionist. They’ll guide your menu planning and teach you better eating habits, which will also help to curb cravings for unhealthy foods and drinks.
Integrating good nutrition into your diet is crucial in recovery’s early stages—and once you’ve established a diet that includes easily digestible foods, vitamins and minerals, and less caffeine (and even less sugar), you’re well on your way to healing your body and your mind. The best diets include fish, poultry, lean meats, vegetables and fruit, whole-grain breads and cereals, and legumes.
Addiction often affects your sleep cycles, as does the recovery process while your body adjusts to the new norm. Disruptive sleep patterns and sleep disturbances can increase your risk of relapsing, especially if you’re recovering from alcohol abuse. You’ll want to explore different tricks and techniques to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Cultivate new interests.
It’s really hard, when you’re first recovering, not to return to old habits and routines. Give yourself a boost over those bumps by finding new hobbies or interests to replace your bad habits. Have a digital camera? Take a few classes on how to improve picture-taking, and join a club. Live near a community college? Check out the continuing ed classes for something that catches your eye.
Adopt a spiritual practice.
It’s fine if church or synagogue isn’t your thing. But spirituality doesn’t have to tie directly to religion. Spirituality, according to many experts, positively influences your mental health. Meditation, yoga, and other routines that encourage mindfulness each day will strengthen your recovery.
Very little supersedes a sober support system of like-minded individuals to help you with your recovery. Whether it’s a 12-step or other program, these groups and people in them are well equipped to understand your struggles and support you as you work through them.
Practice positive affirmation.
You’re probably your own harshest critic, right? And you know the power of words, whether spoken in anger or praise. Choose to repeat positive statements to yourself. Don’t worry about how you look or sound—this isn’t an exercise meant for anyone but you. Many therapists and doctors agree that repeating a simple phrase, or mantra, each day will help your recovery. Examples include:
- I am worthy.
- I am a good person.
- My addiction does not define me.
- I have power over my past—the past has no hold on me.
- I am committed to becoming healthy.
While the road to recovery isn’t always easy, there’s no reason to be completely miserable. Replace those bad habits with good ones, by playing to your strengths—creativity, loyalty, love, humor—and focusing on the best parts of yourself. Embrace the fun in the world and redirect your energy on finding the positive.
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