Healthy Living in Recovery: Tips for the Mind and Body
Whether you’re in long-term recovery for alcohol or drug addiction or you’re just looking to give up drinking or drug use as part of your New Year’s Resolution, there are certain things you can do for your physical and mental health can help you feel better when staying clean and sober. Prolonged use of alcohol and other drugs can lead to serious negative changes in the way you think and feel. It can take more than just abstinence to get your health back to where it needs to be after you’ve been abusing substances. With that in mind, here are some tips for healthy living in recovery.
Exercise has been proven to aid in some of the most common withdrawal symptoms for alcohol and drug dependency, such as fatigue and lethargy, chronic pain, migraines, stress response and a variety of other conditions. On a physiological level, exercise releases endorphins, which bind to the same receptors in the brain as addictive substances, but don’t create dependency. For a person in recovery, this feeling can gradually replace the “high” one misses from using or drinking. On a behavioral and lifestyle level, meeting exercises goals, seeing results and challenging yourself to try new things can boost confidence and create a sense of accomplishment.
Gentle exercises with gradually increasing impact may help you overcome some of your withdrawal symptoms. Try some beginner yoga, jogging, or moderate strength training. Make it even more fun by finding a nice spot in a local park or outdoor area and asking a friend to work out with you. As you get stronger and more able to push yourself, increase your intensity. Exercising in a group is particularly good for releasing endorphins and can help you make new social connections. Exercising is also one of several ways to help naturally release dopamine, the neurotransmitter that affects pleasure and reward sensors of the brain and is closely associated with dependency.
The phrase “you are what you eat” is especially true when you’re trying to rebuild your health in addiction recovery. Eating the right foods can not only boost your energy and relieve pain and inflammation; it can also help you avoid addictive triggers similar to those you experience during active substance use. Some of the best foods to eat in addiction recovery include:
- Berries – Berries are rich in antioxidants that can help boost your immune system and energy levels by cleansing your body of the toxins that have built up in your system through prolonged and untreated substance use. Blueberries are particularly beneficial.
- Other Fruits and Veggies – Plant-based foods contain practically countless vitamins and minerals that can boost energy and help with inflammation commonly experienced during withdrawal. They can also help you to repair damage to your hair, skin and teeth that you may have sustained during active substance use. Bananas, in particular, contain tryptophan, which is critical to releasing the neurotransmitter serotonin that is needed for sleep.
- Whole Grains and Yogurt – Gut-friendly foods that contain probiotics work wonders in regulating digestive health, which ultimately increases your energy, helps you feel less sluggish and can even increase concentration. Whole grains are also great for the heart and reduce pain and inflammation.
Other recovery-friendly foods include poultry, fish, tofu and other lean proteins, as well as dark chocolate and green tea. Processed foods and foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat are generally unhealthy and can even trigger addictive tendencies in the brain that drive use.
There are few things that offer a better natural high than creating something you’re proud of. Take up some new hobbies, like playing music, writing, painting, drawing or acting. Recovery Unplugged has seen, first hand, the power of simply engaging with music to help our clients heal. These healing benefits are often amplified when they play their own instruments and write their own songs. Creativity provides a variety of mental health benefits that are integral to long-term recovery, including emotional release and articulation, socialization and community building and the development of confidence.
Yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage and similar practices can help you adopt a mind-body-spirit approach that is essential to healthy living in addiction recovery. These techniques help to relieve pain and promote relaxation and self-awareness. Mindfulness meditation can help relieve anxiety and has been increasingly explored as a means to treat post-traumatic stress disorder; a condition that is commonly linked to addiction.
One of the best tips for healthy living in addiction recovery is to simply keep focusing on yourself. This means going to therapy, helping others whenever possible, practicing mindfulness and continuing to work on the specific issues that have led to your substance use. Confronting the issues and building a life in which you can effectively manage them is key to long-term recovery.
If you’re planning on making 2021 the year you start living healthy in addiction recovery, the time to get treatment is now. Recovery Unplugged is ready to help you or the person you care about find the way to recovery and a better tomorrow. We offer a full array of care services to promote healthy living, including detox and withdrawal and withdrawal management and comprehensive behavioral rehab. Medication-assisted treatment is available for those who qualify, and we offer a variety of therapies, including EMDR, cognitive behavioral therapy, TMS for depression and Music-Assisted® techniques.
Whether you’re just getting back on your feet after your addiction treatment or you’re looking to cultivate healthy living habits while freeing yourself of alcohol or drug use, it is possible to live a rich and rewarding life while staying sober. Don’t let alcohol or drug use stop you from living the healthy life you deserve. Contact Recovery Unplugged today if you or a loved one needs help.
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