By Rufus Carter
Addiction is unlike other chronic health problems because it requires a holistic approach to healing and wellness. Wellness is an evolving process of personal growth that continues after you’ve completed the initial phases of treatment, an endeavor that requires establishing a mind-body connection so you can make healthy decisions and avoid falling back into self-destructive behaviors. Exercise, nourishing food, social engagement, and meditative practices are all important health strategies that can readily be worked into your daily routine.
Overcoming the sickness, exhaustion, and depression produced by addiction requires a commitment to healthy foods and getting three square meals a day. Drugs and alcohol prevent your body from absorbing nutrition and deplete essential vitamins and minerals. Regular, healthy meals give you the strength necessary to stay on the road to recovery and avoid temptation. Emphasize vegetables, fruit, protein, whole grains, and healthy fats found in foods like nuts and olive oil. Learning to eat properly is a cornerstone of self-care.
If you have experienced a decline in oral health resulting from drug and alcohol use, depression, and self-neglect, talk to your dentist about ways to heal or reverse the damage. Poor oral hygiene is a common side-effect of substance abuse, and cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet
It’s important to exercise regularly when you’re in recovery. Vigorous exercise activates hormones in the brain that induce feelings of joy and rejuvenation, and it gives you the energy you need to continue exercising. Further, exercise is crucial during recovery because it helps to overcome the emotional malaise that many people experience. Many rehab programs incorporate physical activity, including swimming, hiking, strength training, and yoga, to establish a healthful trend that facilitates the detox process and helps purge the body of toxins.
If you prefer to exercise alone, you have options. Find a nearby basketball court where you can practice shooting, for example. Hiking is a dual, physical-mental form of exercise that encourages contemplation and provides rigorous activity in an outdoor environment. If you prefer team sports, invite old friends to join with you in a team sport, an excellent way to restore trust and engender feelings of fellowship.
Mindfulness and Health
Recovering addicts are typically beset by powerful feelings, including fear, anxiety, shame, and anger. It’s important to find ways to control these feelings because allowing them to gain control of you can lead to some very negative consequences. Instead, try engaging in mindfulness-enhancing activities, such as walking in the woods or meditating to your favorite soft music to make that mind-body connection.
In addition to addressing emotional health, it’s important to pay attention to your immune system. Drug and alcohol addiction can damage your body from head to toe, so it’s important to take steps to boost your health in any way you can. This applies to all aspects of your life, including your home environment. For example, giving your home a deep cleaning can help rid it of any dust, dander, and allergens that may have been neglected. And while it might not sound like a big deal, staying on top of your air filters can make all the difference in terms of indoor air quality. Anything you can do to help protect your immune system while you recover is crucial.
Self-isolation is a common symptom of addiction. It encourages depression and increases the risk that you’ll return to negative behaviors, which is why quality treatment facilities make it a point to draw the patient into a pattern of social engagement. Social interaction gives you a support network, which can help protect you against the temptation to renew addictive behavior.
Renewing relationships helps to rebuild the trust between you and a friend or romantic partner, who may benefit from seeing the positive effects that recovery is having on you. Re-engaging in a relationship can also make it easier to get the exercise you need by providing a ready source of companionship and workout partner. It’s a good first step in rebuilding your life.
Maintaining a successful recovery depends on forging a strong connection between your mind and body so you’re able to identify stressors and triggers for addictive behavior. Building small, easily incorporated habits into your daily routine is an excellent way to start.