Addiction is a chronic condition. A chronic condition is one that is persistent and pervasive — it is hard to shake and can take over one’s life. Addiction cannot be completely eliminated, but it can be well-managed to a point where substance abuse can have less of an impact. This is what recovery is all about — stifling addiction with healthy living and moving on with an understanding that it may rear its head in the future. Enabling this successful recovery is not easy. For many, it requires a life change with a focus on overall health.
Attaining a well-balanced, healthy life with a well-managed addiction involves adopting healthy habits. There are many healthy choices available for most people such as incorporating more activity, becoming mindful, adding spirituality, eating a healthy diet, and ensuring positivity in one’s social circles. Here are some ways to address each of these for successful recovery.
Exercise to Battle Addiction
Studies show that exercise helps people step away from addictions. Working out decreases cravings for substances. When people work out, they can tap feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Drugs and alcohol also release or increase production of these chemicals. Exercise is a proven way of replacing getting high with a similar level of euphoria. In addition, since exercise can help lower stress, it may play a role in ultimately reducing cravings for drugs and alcohol.
Mindfulness Resets Mental Wellness
Similarly, mindfulness exercises such as mediation have positive impacts on recovery. Mindfulness is the process of living in the moment and attaining self-knowledge through introspection and observation. It is often done in quiet meditation. Meditation helps calm emotions and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, each of which can contribute to drinking or doing drugs. To many, mindfulness is like the opposite of substance use. Where someone may turn to drinking or using drugs as a coping mechanism for stress, mindfulness involves staring straight into problems. Addiction is escape, but mindfulness is engagement.
Incorporating mindfulness into recovery is simple. Slow down and devote a small portion of your day to quiet reflection and assessment of your life. Soon, you will identify areas where you need improvement. Remind yourself of your progress to support your mental health through positivity.
Diet Improves Physical and Mental Health
A healthy diet supports a healthy, well-rounded life. Nutrition improves mood and helps in all areas of life. When you eat better, you feel better — physically and emotionally. Physical strength bolsters your ability to get through stress and difficulty and avoid injuries, which can lead to abusing painkillers and drinking. Healthy diets also support regular sleep, which, in turn, leads to better physical and mental health. Here are some considerations in adopting a healthy diet:
- Eat more whole foods. Processed convenience foods are full of added salt and sugar and are deficient in nutrients.
- Enjoy variety. Food is a source of pleasure — and you don’t have to overeat or fill your meals with unhealthy choices to experience culinary joy. Try different vegetables and unusual spices to broaden your diet.
- Add protein, which helps addicts repair physical damage caused by substance abuse.
- Eat when hungry. Some addicts are used to avoiding food and may fear gaining weight.
Surrounding Yourself with Positivity
Friends provide recovery support, and socializing has been shown to increase overall mental wellness. Positivity is key, however. Relapse is possible if someone in recovery associates with those who either use substances or encourage their use. Supportive socialization, however, can help develop increased self-worth.
Healthy habits pave a walkway for a sustained positive life, free of substances. However, it’s also important to be ever mindful of their risks during addiction recovery.
Editor’s Note: Making a financial plan and sticking to it can help you get back on your feet. Check out this guide on How to Rebuild Your Finances After Rehab.
Kelly Coleman is a freelance writer and research specialist. She loves volunteering for Consumer Health Labs, which aims to help consumers make healthy choices.