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Living One’s Best Life As A Form Of Therapy
Living a life of passion, purpose, and joy enhances one’s overall view of life in recovery. Learning to be present can help people in recovery reduce fear and anxiety and feel a greater sense of connection to the world around them. Connecting to one’s true self improves self-esteem and confidence, as well as providing feelings of stability and security. Maintaining health and wellness preserves a balanced quality of life for people in recovery. Health and wellness are not just reserved for the spiritual or emotional part of us but include the physical aspect of ourselves as well. Living one’s best life includes practicing self-care, such as:
- Getting adequate rest
- Drinking water
- Bathing regularly
- Taking medication or vitamins
- Getting massages
- Honoring self-care
- Attending therapy
- Maintaining personal grooming
Caring for the physical body also benefits one’s positive self-image and sense of self-esteem. Self-care is important as it encourages purpose in one’s life, love for one’s self, and independence for one’s actions.
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Nutrition For Living Your Best Life
Making healthy choices, such as drinking more water and getting more sleep, is greatly rewarding to the physical body. Healthy foods fuel the mind and body, providing the energy needed to thrive. Creating a routine full of whole foods and with less preservatives encourages dietary self-care. This can include:
- Eliminating sugary foods
- Reducing caffeine
- Eating snacks to avoid moodiness
- Avoiding addictive substances
People in recovery may struggle with depression and anxiety, and eating certain foods may boost moods. Some studies show Opioid addicts in particular may suffer from gastrointestinal discomfort, and watching what they eat or making dietary adjustments may benefit them. Many people are lacking in this area: The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) report that only 21% of Americans get the requisite amount of fruit in their diet; barely a third of Americans are meeting the recommendations for vegetable intake. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into dietary habits could have a gargantuan impact on collective health; the World Health Organization reports that eating healthier could help reduce global heart disease by up to 80%.
Exercising For Vitality
Such as anxiety and depression often accompany addiction, and studies show exercise can greatly assist with both. During physical exercise, cortisol is burned away, creating more feelings of relaxation. Additionally, unique endorphins are released which create “feel good” chemical reactions in the brain. These create feelings of happiness and joyful moods. Another benefit of exercise is improved sleep. People suffering from insomnia can feel relief after exercising, as they release pent-up energy and calm the body; those who exercise may also live longer, as exercise has been shown to lower the risk of early death by as much as 30%.
In addition to exercise creating relaxed mental states, exercise can also reduce symptoms associated with co-occurring disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Exercise is also shown to reduce symptoms of stress and depression. Exercise, when done regularly, can reduce long-term depression, helping prevent sufferers of addiction from relapsing. Including a daily exercise routine in addition to eating healthy foods and getting rest greatly supports a life of wellness after recovery.
Developing Your Spirituality
Developing a spiritual practice such as connecting with a higher power has healing effects on people coming into a life of sobriety. “Tuning in” calls for less stress and more self-truth. One way to do this is by practicing meditation. Meditation has many positive health effects, which is one reason why it’s become so popular recent years; the CDC reports prevalence of the practice more than tripled from 2012 to 2017, increasing from 4.1% to 14.2% of Americans who said they participated in the practice within the past year. Many people use guided meditation, lie down, close their eyes and chant a mantra, do deep breathing while lying down, or walk in nature while being silent to meditate. Studies have shown meditating allows people to cope with stress more effectively, creating more calm and mindfulness over time.
People can develop their spirituality by having a connection with a higher power. Studies reveal people who are spiritual or religious live longer. Creating a spiritual connection reinforces faith and healing beneficial to practicing connection to self and the outside world, forgiveness, and wisdom. Some research studies have found that 75% of individuals who report having found a spiritual foundation remain in remission compared to those who relapse.
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Maintaining Positive Relationships
The power of friendship reinforces warmth and support. When we begin or nurture relationships we not only feel as if we belong and accepted for being ourselves, but we actually are. Many rehab facilities offer the support of peer-to-peer groups, including 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous. These groups are powerful as people in recovery bond with like-minded people and are given:
- Support needed for growth and empathy
- Solutions to problems discussed in groups
- Understanding for unique suffering
- Ideas for healthy coping
- Relating with peers with similar struggles
- Finding inspiration, meaning, and purpose
Many in recovery will share their story and encourage others to share their stories. This expression of growth creates a vulnerability which can aid in emotional healing. Post-recovery, many can sustain friendships and embrace joy in healthy relationships.
Doing Things That Bring You Joy
It’s important to think intentionally about what pastimes and pleasures could bring you satisfying, sustainable happiness. Joy in and of itself is a crucial component of a well-lived life; being in good cheer has many beneficial effects on the mind and body. According to Northwestern Medicine, happiness “lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease, lowers your blood pressure, enables better sleep, improves your diet, allows you to maintain a normal body weight through regular exercise and reduces stress.” That means that if you’ve got a favorite hobby you’ve been shirking lately, it may be time to rediscover it; if you’ve never found a pastime you truly enjoyed, it may be time to expand your horizons and branch out so that you can reap the myriad benefits of joy in your own life.
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