Incorporating healthy habits into your life can aid addiction recovery and benefit your overall health and wellbeing. In recovery, it is important to both treat addiction and attend to the entirety of your mental health, as those who fail to pay attention to their mental or emotional health are more susceptible to relapse. These habits can be easily incorporated into your daily routine, serve as effective coping mechanisms, and help improve your quality of life:
Many people hear the word journaling and think of a diary, but it can be so much more than that. There is no right or wrong way to journal. It can be as simple as writing down what you did each day before going to sleep, or as detailed as explaining your emotions throughout the day. If you’re new to journaling, two great activities are writing both a gratitude list and an achievement list. Listing things you are grateful for can show you the many blessings you have in life and boost your morale. Focusing on the positives rather than the negatives can change your perspective in difficult situations. Making an achievement list has a similar effect. It can motivate you to accomplish more and more, allowing you to have a higher sense of self-worth and purpose. Part of recovery involves self-reflection. This means looking at your actions to see where you have gone wrong, what you can do to make it right, and how you can improve yourself as a person in recovery. Journaling is a self-reflective activity that can allow you to recognize behavioral patterns and adjust your attitudes about situations in life to help you become more self-aware. Having self-awareness can help prevent relapse by acknowledging your patterns and emotions.
2. Go on nature walks.
Rather than spending time swiping through social media, put your phone down, go outside, and enjoy the sunlight. A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that nature walks can decrease depression, lower stress, and improve overall mental health. It is suggested to be a non-pharmaceutical method in treating depression. Whether it is a 10-minute walk or two-hour hike, you will notice that your mood has been enhanced. Since addiction can be a very isolating disease, getting caught up indoors on your cell phone can get lonely. In order to avoid isolation, taking nature walks will get you out of the house and allow you to have more satisfaction in life. Nature walks can be a great way to treat depression, prevent isolation, and get your mind off of cravings if they arise. Take time to appreciate the flowers, grass, trees, or bodies of water that you see. Breathe deeply and take in some fresh oxygen. Take a friend with you to give you an opportunity to foster a healthy relationship by connecting face to face rather than through social media. You may be surprised what a little fresh air and vitamin D can do!
3. Stay on top of your nutrition.
It is common for people in recovery to crave sugary foods. Foods with high levels of sugar and processed carbohydrates may make you feel better short-term but will frequently be followed by a “sugar crash,” making it important to eat nutritious foods. Due to placing drugs or alcohol as a top priority, many people suffer from nutrient deficiencies when they get sober. Eating well in early recovery can help reverse some of the damage drugs may have caused to your body and help regulate your mood. Replacing sugary foods and processed carbohydrates with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grain carbohydrates will not only benefit your physical health but it will benefit your mental health as well. Eating this type of nutritious diet will help you feel full, healthy, and avoid that dreaded sugar come-down. It will fuel your body and enhance your mood. Being aware of how food affects your mood can help with depression and anxiety, which can be triggers to drink or use.
4. Engage in artistic activities or DIY.
Art or do-it-yourself projects are a great hobby to allow your creative energies to flow freely. Sometimes, it can be difficult to put emotions into words. Using art as a form of expressive therapy can help you heal from addiction and provide a venue of open expression. Art can be an outlet to help you cope with day to day anxieties and worries in your own way. Art therapy can help improve the mental health of those who suffer from addiction, depression, anxiety, bipolar, and other mental illnesses. These activities can be anything from drawing, painting, sculpting, or following a DIY video that you’ve seen on Pinterest. In addition, creating something of your own that has practical use can be extremely rewarding and can promote feelings of self-worth. Don’t let a lack of artistic ability to stay in your way of creating art—find something you enjoy and make a habit of it! Boredom can take a toll on individuals in recovery. If much of your past was spent feeding your addiction, you may find it difficult to combat boredom and occupy your time. In order to stay motivated and engaged in your recovery, it is extremely important to develop hobbies to fill your spare time. Art or DIY can help keep you motivated, busy, and expressive.
5. Practice meditation.
Meditation is a great way to connect your mind, body, and soul. If you are new to meditation, try doing a guided mindful meditation. Many will begin with a deep breathing exercise, which can help alleviate any stress that you may be holding in your body and mind. You will learn how to listen to your thoughts without judgment, which can help you deal with racing or obsessive thoughts. It is normal for individuals in recovery to experience mood swings, anxiety, and cravings. Meditation can help you gain insights that allow you to act rationally, calm your anxiety, and discover why you are having a craving. Being able to stop and meditate allows you to pause before making an irrational decision, making meditation a great tool to prevent a relapse The benefits of meditation are endless. It can reduce stress and anxiety, enhance self-awareness and emotional well-being, improve cognitive abilities, and improve sleep. Making meditation into a habit will help you feel more in control of your feelings, your recovery, and your mental health.
*Kate Adermann is a passionate writer living in recovery. She likes to advocate breaking the stigma that surrounds addiction, go hiking with her dog Jake, and spend time with her family.