Special Guest post from Susan Treadway
There are many different treatment methods for alcohol and drug addiction. Regardless of the method you choose, you should consider supplementing the process with exercise. Focusing on your physical health has been proven to not only boost self-esteem but also ease some of the negative side effects of addiction.
Better Physical and Mental Health
The obvious benefits of exercise are physical. You’ll have more energy and increased endurance, and you’ll feel healthier overall. However, there several mental health benefits as well. Regular exercise is proven to decrease depression, reduce stress, balance hormones, and boost your mood.
For those recovering from addiction, this is excellent news. In addition to improved physical and mental health, studies have found that framing exercise as part of a lifestyle change during recovery has helped patients experience an increase in a desire to stay sober, leading to a smaller chance of relapsing.
A Balanced Exercise Routine
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult needs a balance of aerobic and strength training to work all their muscles. At a minimum, you should aim to do 150 minutes of cardio and focus on strength training twice a week. There is no need to overexert yourself. Lightweights and brisk walks are enough as you build up your strength. The important thing is that you’re moving. Just be sure to find the right exercise that fits your needs and comfort level.
Do not neglect the importance of warming up and cooling down. Stretching and easing in and out of exercise helps prevent injury and minimizes stress on your heart.
Finding the Motivation
If you are new to exercise or already know how to work out, the key to getting motivated is in finding an activity you enjoy. Try out different things to see what you like best. Whether that’s running, tennis, dance, swimming, hiking -- you’ll be more motivated to get out the door if you’re looking forward to it.
When creating fitness goals, Self Magazine recommends focusing on athletic gains rather than aesthetic. This means concentrating on things like increasing your jogging speed or how much you’re lifting. However, patients should be cautious of replacing one addiction with another. If you find yourself suddenly obsessing over numbers, be sure to seek additional help.
The Physical Affects the Mental
It is not enough to simply start exercising. To get the full benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, you need to eat right and sleep well too. A balanced diet of the right amounts of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains will improve your mood and give you more energy. However, watch out for sugars hidden in foods and limit your carbs.
A full seven to nine hours of sleep a night has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. If you have trouble sleeping at night, try winding down by powering off your screens and switching to a book or meditation. Make sure you are comfortable and the room is dark and you’ll be falling asleep the moment your head hits the pillow.
Breathe in, Breathe Out
It is not enough to rely on a physically healthy lifestyle to keep your mental health in check. Often, you need to hit pause in your day to stop and collect yourself. Mindfulness, meditation, journaling, or expressing yourself through art are great ways to relax your brain.
Taking the time to slow things down teaches you to cope with stress and manage your emotions. Even something as simple as five minutes of meditation and breathing exercises have been proven to improve your ability to exert self-control, increase your focus, and improve memory.
It’s a Lifestyle Change
The journey to addiction recovery is not easy, but framing it as a lifestyle change greatly increases the chances of success. Supplementing traditional recovery programs with exercise is an excellent way to do this. There is no better way to feel both physically and mentally healthy.
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