Recovery from addiction is not only about eliminating substance abuse. It’s also about engaging in a healthy lifestyle. The essence of recovering from addiction is changing negative behaviors into positive ones. That doesn’t happen overnight, but as you replace old habits with new ones, a shift occurs. This shift is where your recovery really begins to take place. Take a look at the following 5 healthy habits to form when recovering from addiction.
Establish a regular exercise routine
Exercise has many benefits for those in recovery from addiction. It has been shown to alleviate physical and psychological stress. The endorphins released during physical activity can support your recovery by providing a natural and healthy way to regulate your mood and brain chemistry without the use of drugs or alcohol. Regular exercise can also help give you a sense of accomplishment, and therefore a renewed outlook.
Tip: If you’re new to exercise, start small. Even a 15-minute daily walk around the neighborhood can begin to make a difference.
Maintain a healthy diet
Drug and alcohol use wreaks havoc on the body, and a person consumed by addiction is less likely to eat healthy. Balanced nutrition affects both mood and health, and it’s an important part of achieving a healthy lifestyle. Making healthy food choices will begin to help you feel better both physically and mentally, thus reducing the risk of relapse.
Tip: Stick to regular mealtimes, but keep healthy snacks on hand in case you get hungry between meals.
Practice mindfulness and relaxation
One of the most important aspects of recovery is self-awareness. Addiction often means reaching for a substance to alleviate stress, hunger, worry, sadness, boredom, and any number of feelings that may arise. When you remove the substance, you’re left with the feelings themselves. Mindfulness is defined as the “quality or state of being conscious or aware.” The more mindful you are of what’s really going on inside you, the better equipped you are to address the real issue. Meditation and journal writing are two relaxing tools that can help increase your self-awareness so that you make healthy choices that will benefit you and support your recovery.
Tip: Plan some time for relaxation every day. Consider it as important as brushing your teeth, and write it into the calendar if need be.
Develop new interests
As you become more self-aware in your recovery, you may notice that you find yourself considering new hobbies or activities. Or you might begin to remember things you used to love to do but haven’t done in years. Take note of what comes up regularly. Do you often stop and stare into the guitar shop window? Have you been daydreaming about going to cooking school? Developing new interests or reigniting old ones can be a great support in your recovery. It can help take the focus off of your problems, give you a sense of joy, and expose you to others who share similar interests.
Tip: Give yourself ten minutes to write down anything you think would bring you joy. It can be anything: travel to China, join a community garden, take the kids to Disneyland, or learn to Salsa dance. Don’t edit yourself. Keep the list nearby and add to it every time you think of something. Eventually, one (or more) of those items will begin to feel possible and promising.
Acknowledge your small victories
“Victory is not won in inches, but in miles. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.” — Louis L’Amour.
Long-term recovery goals are wonderful, but it’s important to celebrate your small victories along the way. For example, it’s a victory if you went for a walk today. It’s a victory if you spent quality time with a loved one. It’s a victory if you cooked yourself a healthy meal or made it to work five minutes early. These things may not feel like the huge successes that you’ll want to boast about to others, but every healthy choice you make in recovery is a victory. It’s important that you acknowledge yourself for the steps you’re making every day.
Tip: Each evening, write at least five small victories from your day in your journal. You may be surprised by how much you accomplished when you see it written down.
We can help
If you are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction and need some additional support, we are here for you. At Alvarado Parkway Institute in San Diego, our Intensive Outpatient Chemical Dependency Program can help support your recovery from addiction and provide you with the tools needed to improve your quality of life.
If you need help, please reach out to us. Call our crisis line at 619-667-6125 or fill out the contact form on our website.