Forming Healthy Habits In Recovery Are Attainable If You Want Them
While at first glance, recovery seems to be about getting sober and staying sober, it’s an involved process that lasts a lifetime. To “recover” is to overcome addiction, and in most cases, that means making sweeping changes. Living life as an addict can leave a person malnourished, and saddled with thoughts of guilt, self-deprecation, and anxiety. Rehab and medical attention are necessary first steps for many struggling with drug addiction, as a way to get a better picture of an addict’s physical health, as well as their best path forward.
Because of the lasting damage that drug abuse can cause, finding ways to improve an addict’s health are crucial. It might just start with one or two new habits, but it’s important to make changes to the way you live as you continue through the recovery process. Here are a few healthy habits that will help you not only get back on your feet but build a rewarding and fulfilling sober life.
Create A Routine That You Can Follow
First things first: a schedule. Schedules are tremendously useful because they give us something to set our clock by. Our internal clock, that is. Getting used to a productive routine helps us stay sane, make day-to-day progress, and harness a feeling of achievement at the end of each day. Additionally, when struggling with addiction, it’s important to find things to do.
In the early stages of recovery, cravings and ceaseless thoughts of addiction can drive you crazy. Couple that with boredom, and it becomes difficult to resist the temptation to go do something you might regret. Keeping yourself busy in the first few weeks and months of addiction is helpful. Over time, the cravings will let up and you’ll develop your own tools and habits to undermine your cravings, if and when they return.
Another reason why daily schedules are important is to maintain a sense that you’re getting something done every single day. This is especially important after early recovery when addicts are most likely to succumb to symptoms of depression and develop other issues as a result of the emotional effects of going sober, and the stresses of recovery. Without taking the proper precautions, days can easily blend together. Find something to dedicate yourself to – school, work, a new course, a personal goal – and pursue it passionately.
Manage and Repair Your Circadian Rhythm During Recovery, Period
The circadian rhythm is the internal 24-hour body clock that we humans share with many other organisms. As the Earth revolves around its own axis, the sun passes through the sky and day turns to night. Most creatures on Earth have evolved to live their lives on a day-by-day basis, going through periods of activity and inactivity. While these internal clocks mostly run on their own, we do ‘reset’ them based on changes in daylight and nighttime, as well as a number of other factors.
Plenty of things can upset the circadian rhythm. Some people undergo serious mental and emotional changes during the wintertime when daylight is reduced, and most people wake up during what is still ostensibly the night. Meanwhile, many people struggle from stress-induced insomnia, as well as sleeping issues fueled by time spent exposed to blue-light mobile devices (which mimic daylight) and late evening caffeine.
Drug abuse can heavily affect a person’s circadian rhythm, throwing it completely out of balance and wrecking the body’s sense of time. Getting into the habit of sleeping and waking up at regular hours, day after day, can drastically improve your mood and help you manage the tasks you’re going to be facing every day.
Start by trying to get 8 hours of sleep every single night, and then adjust your sleeping times until you find yourself winding down around 9-10 pm and falling asleep no later than 11:30 pm. If you struggle with this, consider speaking to your medical professional about non-pharmacological sleeping aids, from relaxation training to stretching, incense, and hypnosis. Melatonin pills can also work but should be taken with caution, especially if you take other supplements or are on any medication.
Find Ways to Eat Better During Recovery From Substance Abuse
Food has a massive impact on us, more than most might realize. We have to eat on a daily basis, and the fuel we subsist on has an effect on our physical and mental states. Food is digested and broken down into macronutrients, micronutrients, and certain chemicals that may affect the body in positive ways, negative ways, or both. Foods with antioxidant properties can help slow or combat the effects of free radicals in the body, for example, improving overall health. Certain minerals and vitamins are crucial for function, from iron and calcium to vitamin D and C. But too much or too little can cause deficiencies, imbalances, and serious symptoms.
It’s important to eat a well-balanced diet. Many drug addicts struggle to eat properly, because drugs often suppress the appetite (stimulants), provide an overabundance of useless calories (alcohol), or induce a craving for calorie-dense, nutritionally-poor foods (marijuana). Some of the effects of withdrawal can be attributed to a poor diet, the symptoms of which might have been masked by drug use. Eating healthy again can greatly change your physical appearance, give you strength, and massively improve your mood as well as overall self-esteem.
Exercise Regularly During Drug & Alcohol Rehab & After A Successful Discharge
Some people make the mistake of making a very difficult commitment to the gym, only to go once or twice and then quitting again. Start exercising on a manageable level, at home, or near your workplace, for short periods of time.
Motivate yourself by doing things you genuinely enjoy when exercising, instead of treating yourself or trying to gamify your training. Seek out exercise that is interesting and engaging to you. You don’t have to go jogging or join the latest fitness fad or do yoga to find inner peace. Do whatever you want, as long as it’s safe and helps keep you active.
It doesn’t even have to burn many calories – the point of the exercise, for the most part, is to get you moving. Movement and physical exertion can trigger the release of endorphins, and make you feel a little happier and a lot healthier. Meanwhile, weight loss (if needed) is done in the kitchen.
Create Short-Term and Long-Term Sobriety Goals
Goals are important for your mental health. With time, a routine will also make the days blend together. You need something to keep track of, and your sobriety on its own often isn’t enough.
Consider engaging in a hobby that allows you to steadily progress and measure your time as an investment in something you’re seeing steady returns in. A sport, an art, or some other pastime you can improve in will help you a lot in keeping your life interesting and giving yourself something to think about aside from your sobriety.
Many people take time at the beginning of each new year to reflect on the past and to look forward to the future. In looking ahead, many of us make resolutions, or a list of changes we would like to make in our lives. As someone who has made the choice to get clean and sober and stay that way, you know more about this than most people! Unfortunately, many of the changes that people are inspired to make due to the dawning of a new year don’t stick; according to Business Insider magazine, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Clearly, thanks to your successes in getting your addiction under control, you have more dedication and resolve than most people, but sticking to life changes can still be challenging. Building healthy and productive habits isn’t easy, but with the right mindset and proper approach, you can truly accomplish anything.
How Good Habits Can Keep You Sober…
Now that you are clean, sober, and on a positive path for the rest of your life ahead, building healthy and productive habits is important. The habits themselves will undoubtedly help you to grow and develop as a person, but the process will also be a great help in keeping you focused on the positive. Developing good habits will help you to feel productive, and staying dedicated to their growth will also help you to stay out of trouble and keep you strong and resilient against triggers and possible relapse. The more healthy and productive habits that you are able to incorporate into your life and daily routine, the better – they will help you in continuing to advance as a human being, and sticking to them will make you feel accomplished and capable each and every day.
It’s Not Easy!
It is not easy to build new habits, unfortunately. For many of us, laziness and excuses can quickly take over, soon after we begin, even when we have the best intentions. Furthermore, as much as scientific research tries to tell us that humans love routine, some people do not find that to be true – and some people even find routine and habit to be somewhat constricting.
However, to develop successful habits, and getting yourself to stick to them, simply takes time and dedication. It may have been easy for you to build bad habits in the past, but even bad habits don’t happen overnight. In most cases, an addict does not become an addict in one day. It will take time and effort to build healthy and productive habits, but once you do, you will feel accomplished and you will feel better about yourself. You will be incorporating things into your life that will actually improve you as a human being – physically, emotionally, socially, and/or mentally – and once you start down that path, well, the sky is the limit!
Tips for Building Healthy & Productive Sobriety Recovery Habits
Now, many people might choose ten things from the list above all at once, successfully complete them all one day, and then forget about their habit goals entirely a few days later. Unfortunately, most of us humans are inclined to take on too much at once – and as a result, we fail. We think that it is impossible to make changes, and then give up on all of it until making resolutions again the following year. The problem here, if you step back, seems obvious – don’t bite off more than you can chew, and you will find much greater success, and more quickly, too. Here are some tips for anyone trying to incorporate healthy and productive habits into their lives.
Start small. This is the most important tip on the list. If you try to take on too much at once, then you will not succeed at any of it. Choose ONE of the habits you would like to add into your routine, practice it successfully for a week, and then add another. Wait another week (or more) before adding another. Also, if you don’t exercise at all currently, don’t expect yourself to work out an hour a day, seven days a week. Try fifteen minutes a day, three days a week first. If reading daily is the habit you choose to pursue, don’t try to read an entire novel in one sitting! Rather, set a timer and read for fifteen minutes the first day, and then move on to something else. If you want to continue reading after the fifteen minutes are over – great! But even if you don’t, you have already succeeded in participating in that habit today.
Record your successes. You will feel like you are making progress if you record your successes each day. Make a checkmark or draw an X on a calendar every day you complete the habit you are trying to create. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld actually used this method to help him become successful in his field. Long ago, he told himself he would write a joke every day. Every day that he did, he drew an X on his calendar. Not wanting to “break the chain,” once he had a few connected Xes, he simply kept going. It certainly seemed to work for him!
Momentum matters. Using the above tip, combined with simple human nature – momentum matters. Just like Sir Isaac Newton stated in his First Law of Motion, “An object at rest will stay at rest. An object in motion stays in motion,” people who are moving down a positive path will likely continue moving down that path. You just need to get started!
Make it as easy as possible. When trying to incorporate a new habit into your life, try to cut out as many obstacles as you can. If your plan is to get healthy and active, make sure your gym clothes are clean and ready to go by the door so you don’t make excuses while searching for them. If journaling daily is what you would like to do, buy yourself a nice journal that you will enjoy using, and keep it somewhere that is easily accessible.
Understand that minor setbacks are just that – Some days you will step backward instead of forward. As someone in recovery, you know that this happens sometimes. The key is to not let them step back turn into many steps back. Get back on the horse. Return to your habit, remind yourself why you want to include it in your life, and continue moving forward.
Tell others and stay accountable. Just like when you got clean and sober, when building healthy and productive habits, it can help immensely to tell other people about what you are trying to do. Telling your friends and family members can keep you on the right track. It’s likely that they will offer you their support, and who knows, you may even find that someone else you know is trying to do the same thing that you are trying to do, and you will therefore have a partner on your habit-building journey!
Be patient. Experts say that it takes as much as three months, or ninety days, to make a habit stick. That can feel like a long time, but if you stick with it, that time will fly by, and soon, the habit you were trying to develop will be an automatic and integral part of your life.
Building healthy and productive habits can change your life, and can certainly change your 2018! Choose a few and get started – you do not even need to wait until January 1st. The great thing about developing positive habits like these is that doing so can be addictive – in a good way of course – and once you are successful in incorporating one of them into your life, it’s likely that you will want to add more and more and more! Good luck!
At Mountainview Recovery in Weaverville, NC, we want to help you to develop the most wonderful habit of all – living positively and following a clean, sober, and healthy life path every single day. It can be done. It just takes dedication, desire, momentum, and a helping hand – and we are here to be that helping hand!
Please call us today to learn more about our peaceful, serene facility in the beautiful western mountains of North Carolina, USA, and about the ways in which drug and alcohol detox and treatment can help you break free of your addiction. Our intake specialists are standing by to answer your questions and to explain the ways in which our gorgeous NC Drug Rehab Facility can help you start a new and healthy life in the year ahead. Call us today at (833) 489-4460! Our support staff is happy to help any way they may or can!