For many individuals who are in recovery for substance abuse, finding ways to introduce and maintain healthy lifestyle habits can be difficult. Some have trouble knowing where to start, while others are afraid that beginning a new routine will stress their sobriety and lead to a relapse. However, it’s important to develop good habits and make them a part of your everyday life, not just for yourself, but also for the people who love you. Knowing how to treat your body and mind with kindness will help you learn how to navigate relationships and keep you on a more joyful path as you find your way through recovery.
The key is to start small and to start slowly. Trying too many different things at once or making too many changes can actually be detrimental to your recovery. For instance, you might start a new exercise routine such as practicing yoga every day, or you might decide to work on getting your home in order. Start with a list of goals and cross them off as you achieve them. It will help you see your progress and give you a sense of accomplishment as you go.
Here are some tips on finding and maintaining healthy habits during recovery.
Assess your needs
Start by assessing your needs. Everyone is different when it comes to recovery, so take a good look at your life and think about where you want to be in five years. What are your goals? Make a list of all the things you want to try to achieve. They can be as small as learning how to cook healthy meals or as big as going back to school in order to get a better job. Choose one thing to focus on for the moment and don’t stress about the others — you’ll get there.
Learn how to treat your body
Individuals in recovery need lots of time to heal their bodies and minds, and this should be one of your main goals in the beginning. Both your physical and mental health need attention, so take a look at the things in your life that aren’t working for you. Is your diet a healthy one? If not, you’re not alone. Many people in recovery turn to food for comfort in the absence of substances. Look online for some healthy, easy recipes and use those as the basis for your grocery shopping list. This will help you get in the habit of shopping wisely and will keep you from buying junk food.
Exercise is also important for people in recovery. Not only does it help fight disease and obesity, it’s great for your mental health as well. Getting out into the sunshine will give you an extra boost of feel-good hormones that will keep you feeling motivated and positive throughout the day.
Form good habits
Part of staying healthy during recovery is forming good habits, which means starting routines that might not be familiar to you. For instance, if you’re usually a night owl who finds it difficult to get much sleep, start a bedtime ritual that will help you feel relaxed. At the same time every night, take a hot shower, drink a cup of hot tea, get into some comfy clothes, and turn off all digital screens (phone, television, and computer). Relax with a good book or listen to some calm music. Getting your mind turned off from your busy day will help ease you toward good sleep, which is incredibly beneficial for your overall health.
It can be very difficult to stay focused on being positive when your home is in disarray, so start getting organized. Begin by decluttering each room. If you have a large home or a lot of belongings, start with one room and take your time completing it before moving on to the next one. Make piles for things you want to throw away, keep, sell and donate.
In the kitchen and bathrooms, make use of storage bins, canisters and labels to get things neat in pantries and cabinets. Make the most of your space by using over-the-door shoe organizers to store cleaning products or cooking materials (such as spices, cake decorating tools, etc.). Whipping everything into shape will help you think more clearly, and clear the cobwebs mentally and physically.
It can be highly beneficial to individuals in recovery to have a circle of support. Your friends and family will be there for you when times get tough. If you don’t have anyone close by, maintain contact via email, phone calls and services including Skype. Consider finding a therapy group to join as well. Having people in your circle who know what you’ve been through and where you’re going will help you feel able to tackle anything new that comes your way.
Find a hobby
Even if you have a full-time job and are surrounded by people all day, recovery can feel like a lonely place. It’s important to maintain not only familial ties, but social ones as well. So, what better way to do that than with a hobby you love? Whether you want to create art, play an instrument, get involved with a sport, or start baking cakes, there are a variety of ways to turn your hobby into a social occasion and a way to make new friends. Don’t be afraid to meet new people. You never know what kind of lifelong connections you might make.
Maintaining healthy habits during recovery can be a long and arduous journey. But, once you get the hang of it, you can learn how to keep them around for life, making you a healthier and happier person. Go at your own pace, as what works for one person may not work for another. It’s all about finding what’s best for you.