Life in addiction recovery involves much more than staying away from substance use or problem drinking. At first, you might feel like much of your energy is spent on maintaining your sobriety. This is normal in the early stages of recovery, but there are also things that you can do to begin feeling better faster. Whole body wellness and addiction recovery go hand in hand, and focusing on your physical health provides benefits that make it possible to feel mentally and emotionally stronger.
People often enter recovery fully expecting to spend hours in therapy sessions where they work through their mental health challenges. Yet, it only takes a short time before they realize that their treatment plan also includes services such as nutrition counseling and recreational therapy.
If you ask why physical wellness is essential, it helps to know that your mind and body are fully connected. When your treatment team talks about wellness and addiction recovery, they’re referring to the unique process your body goes through as it detoxes from the chemicals it once relied on and begins to flourish from physical exercise and proper nutrition.
Your mental and physical wellness depend upon each other. During your early recovery, you’ll face withdrawal symptoms and cravings that are easier to deal with when you feel physically and mentally strong.
For example, you might find it easier to cope with a craving if you spend an hour exercising to take your mind off it. Alternatively, you’ll have more motivation to stay sober when you feel the effects of the endorphins in your brain after a vigorous workout.
Physical wellness doesn’t just mean getting fit through cardio and strength training exercises. There are additional components that contribute to whole-body wellness that you’ll want to focus on during your recovery.
Making sure to eat well helps replenish the nutrients your body might have lost when it was in the throes of addiction. If you’ve been struggling with addiction for years, you might have even forgotten how to plan meals that promote better health.
Proper sleep is also essential. Many drugs are stimulants that might have kept you up all night and disrupted your sleep patterns. You may also find it harder to fall or stay asleep as you work through the early stages of withdrawal. In either case, you’ll find that practicing good sleep hygiene will help you begin to feel more mentally alert and focus on learning everything you can about recovery.
You can expect that some days may be more challenging on any recovery plan. Keeping the benefits of physical wellness in mind will help you stay motivated.
Regular physical movement helps to promote recovery by burning off excess nervous energy that makes it harder to focus and get proper rest. Your body also releases endorphins during your workouts that flood your body with feel-good hormones so that you feel happier and more relaxed.
Eating well helps your brain recover from the toxic effects of drugs and alcohol. Many people are deficient in vitamins that play a role in your energy levels and ability to reason about challenges that you encounter. You’ll also find that learning how and when to eat specific foods can affect your hormones, sleep ability, and overall well-being.
There’s also something to be said about how focusing on your mental and physical wellness helps to fill your time in recovery. One of the biggest challenges people face in sobriety is avoiding boredom. Whether you’re looking forward to perfecting your basketball skills, learning how to cook culinary masterpieces, or doing a new yoga routine, you’ll find it easier to stay on track with your sobriety when you have a goal that you are working towards.
The first thing to remember is that your wellness and recovery journey is personal and may look different from others. A simple thing you can begin even during your first day of recovery is taking care of your hygiene. Taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and getting dressed in clean clothes all signal to your brain that you care about your physical and emotional well-being.
Your next step is to develop a fitness routine and diet plan that you can stick to as you work on sobriety. For some people, this might mean a daily walk after eating a healthy breakfast. For others, it might mean heading to a yoga class before having a light morning meal. Over time, you’ll likely want to add more components to your daily routine. Strength training, team sports, and daily meditations are great ways to increase your mind and body connection.
Our team at Mind Body Wellness understands the importance of whole-body healing. While you work with your counselors on addressing the underlying mental health reasons for your addiction, we also provide you with nutritional support and coaching that help you to begin feeling healthier and ready to get the most out of your new lifestyle.