Aftercare


Benefits of exercise in recoveryBeing in recovery involves rethinking your entire approach to life, which means the early stages of recovery are the perfect time to begin a regular exercise regimen. Making physical activity a daily part of your life offers multiple benefits for the body, mind, and spirit.

1. Exercise Gives You a Natural High.

It may sound hard to believe if you’ve always been a bit of a couch potato, but exercise has been scientifically proven to give you a natural high. Physical activity increases serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These chemicals help boost your mood, much like the high from using drugs or alcohol.

It doesn’t matter how strenuous your exercise regimen is either. Even a brisk walk after dinner can be helpful, so feel free to start small and gradually increase your physical activity as your strength and stamina improve.

2. Exercise Relieves Stress.

Balancing work, family, friends, and recovery can certainly be stressful at times. Exercise is an excellent natural stress reliever because it’s essentially meditation in motion. If you’re focused on shooting hoops, playing tennis, or mastering new dance moves, you can’t worry about problems in other areas of your life.

After concentrating solely on your body’s movements for 30 minutes to an hour, you’ll have a new perspective on what’s bothering you. The break from your troubles will also keep you from making rash decisions you may regret in the future.

3. Exercise Lets You Manage Anger and Frustration.

When you’re in recovery, it can be challenging to find a way to deal with unpleasant emotions without turning to drugs or alcohol. Exercise can help you work out your frustration and anger in a productive way.

If you’re using exercise to manage anger and frustration, however, it may be best to avoid aggressive team sports such as hockey or football. The natural aggression in the game may exaggerate your emotional response. Try running or lifting weights instead.

4. Exercise Promotes More Restful Slumber.

In today’s fast-paced world, trouble sleeping is very common. Being in recovery can make insomnia worse when the body is struggling to adjust to life without drugs and alcohol. Getting regular exercise will help balance your circadian rhythms and burn off excess energy, both of which will help you sleep better. This will improve your mood as well as promote healing of the damage caused by past substance abuse.

For maximum benefits, aim to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Ideally, it’s best to exercise five to six hours before you want to go to bed. This is the timeframe when the body’s temperature drops after exercising, which will make it easier to fall asleep. If it’s not possible to exercise at this time, a morning workout is the next best option. Exercising three hours or less before bed can actually overstimulate the heart, brain, and muscles—making it harder to go to sleep.

5. Exercise Helps You Deal with Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders.

If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or another co-occurring mental disorder, the mood boosting benefits of a regular workout routine may help you feel better. Working out won’t necessarily be a substitute for your medication, but getting moving may help you feel more like yourself again.

Yoga’s mental health benefits are particularly well documented. By teaching participants to focus on their breathing and tune out distractions, yoga promotes focus and relaxation. If you’re hesitant to try yoga because you don’t think you’re flexible enough, look for a certified instructor who can help you modify poses to work with a more limited range of motion.

6. Exercise Fills Up Idle Time.

Boredom is a common trigger for cravings when you’re in the early stages of recovery, so anything that keeps you busy is going to be beneficial. For maximum benefit, consider taking an organized fitness class or scheduling time at the gym as a set part of your daily routine.

7. Exercise Expands Your Social Circle.

Making friends as an adult can be difficult, but you may find that it’s easier to expand your social circle if you’re exercising regularly. Joining a gym or participating in team sports is a great way to meet new people if you’re feeling lonely from no longer associating with friends who encourage unhealthy lifestyle choices.

If you’re worried about approaching someone new, keep it simple and ask for tips on improving your form or advice on healthy eating. Having a common interest to guide your conversation will help break the ice as you get to know each other.  

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs, please call us at 888-352-3297.

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What To ExpectWhen you’ve made the decision to seek addiction treatment, it’s hard to imagine what your life will be like without drugs or alcohol. Although no two people are exactly alike, this article outlines some of the issues you can expect to deal with during your first year in recovery.

Withdrawal

The term withdrawal refers to the physical symptoms you experience after drugs or alcohol leave your system.

Withdrawal symptoms depend upon the substance being abused and your length of use, but often include stomach upset, sweating, headache, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and mood swings. A medical detox helps you avoid dangerous side effects and keeps you as comfortable as possible.

Acute withdrawal symptoms start to taper off as your brain chemistry adjusts to a normal level. However, post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from six months to two years. Common post-acute withdrawal symptoms include difficulty with memory and concentration, decreased physical coordination, and trouble managing emotions.

Counseling

Once detox has been completed, counseling is vital part of setting the foundation for long term sobriety. Counseling typically involves a mixture of individual, group, and family sessions. Your counselor may also recommend experiential therapies such as art, music, or equine therapy.

If you suffer from a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression or PTSD, your treatment plan will need to address both issues simultaneously. Often, people with mental health disorders turn to substance abuse to self-medicate the symptoms of their condition. If their mental health needs aren’t addressed, it becomes extremely difficult to maintain sobriety.

Celebrating 30 Days of Sobriety

Having 30 days of sobriety under your belt is considered a huge milestone. At this time, your withdrawal symptoms have become more manageable and your counseling sessions have provided you with the tools you need to begin a life free from the burdens of substance abuse.

Near the 30-day mark, you’ll likely be transitioning from an inpatient treatment facility to outpatient care. Your counselor will provide you with a detailed aftercare plan to make the adjustment process easier.

Creating a Strong Support System

After leaving an inpatient treatment facility, you’ll want to keep up the recovery momentum by creating a strong support system for yourself. Your facility’s aftercare resources are a good place to start, but you can also turn to support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to connect you with people who understand the challenges you’re facing.

People in the early stages of recovery often find that turning to their faith provides comfort. The new friends you meet in worship services and church activities can play a vital role in your recovery by providing encouragement and accountability, even if they have no personal experience with substance abuse.

Building Routines

During the first year of recovery, much of your time will be spent creating a routine for yourself. You’ll need to figure out how to balance work, family, social, and treatment obligations. Using a traditional day planner or a scheduling app on your phone may make it easier to keep track of appointments.

As you’re building a routine for yourself, remember to be realistic about what you can accomplish. Not giving yourself enough time to relax can create stress, which places you at risk of relapse.

Repairing Relationships

When you’re struggling with addiction, it’s easy to inadvertently hurt the ones you love. Restoring trust with friends and family will take time, so be patient with this part of the process.

A sincere apology is always a good place to start, but most people in recovery find that their loved ones respond well to seeing how hard they are working to stay sober. Keep your loved ones informed of your recovery milestones while making an effort to communicate honestly and openly.

Discovering Sober Hobbies

One of the most exciting parts of embracing a sober lifestyle is developing new hobbies. During your first year in recovery, give yourself permission to explore areas of interest—even if they put you outside of your comfort zone.

As you’re thinking about what activities appeal to you, consider aiming for a mix of solo and group hobbies. Solo hobbies such as reading, creative writing, gardening, or painting provide a way to distract yourself when cravings hit. Group activities such as joining a bowling league, volunteering at a local nonprofit, or trying out for a community theater production let you expand your social circle.

Avoiding the Dangers of Overconfidence

As you get closer to the one-year mark, it’s natural to become more confident in your sobriety. Feeling comfortable living clean and sober is an excellent sign, but overconfidence can be a risk factor for relapse.

It’s important to remember that addiction is a chronic illness. Just as someone with diabetes needs to continually monitor their blood sugar, eat right, and exercise, you’ll need to stay on top of your treatment plan to manage your sobriety.

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs, please visit our website.

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Thanksgiving tableIn the early stages of recovery, you’re learning new ways to cope with everyday situations. Developing healthy habits is a big task, especially during the holiday season. If this will be your first sober Thanksgiving, stay on the path to recovery with these 8 helpful tips.

1. Be Grateful.

Thanksgiving is all about counting your blessings and there’s no greater blessing than being in recovery. Writing down your blessings in a journal is an excellent way to remind yourself of your commitment to your sobriety while getting into the spirit of the Thanksgiving celebration. Sending personal notes to those who’ve helped with your recovery is another great way to show your gratitude. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a natural born writer, you can’t go wrong with a heartfelt note of appreciation.

2. Start a New Tradition.

If drinking is normally a big part of your Thanksgiving celebration, consider this year an opportunity to start a new alcohol-free tradition. You could organize a team trivia contest, play a friendly game of flag football, create a silly photo booth complete with assorted costumes and props, or give back to your community by volunteering at a local homeless shelter. There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate Thanksgiving, as long as you’re making memories with the people who mean the most to you.

3. Make Plans for Self-Care.

If you’re struggling with depression or social anxiety, crowded holiday gatherings can be overwhelming. Even if you’re genuinely excited to see everyone, a packed room might be hard to handle.

Taking the time to meditate or engage in some relaxing yoga poses before the event begins is an excellent way to keep stress levels in check. Bringing items to help you calm down, such as headphones and relaxing music, calming essential oil spray, or a fun mini adult coloring book, can also be helpful.

4. Don’t Throw Good Nutrition Out the Window.

While Thanksgiving is a time to indulge, keep in mind that healthy eating habits help support your recovery. Start your meal with a salad packed with fiber rich veggies, choose moderate portions of your favorite entrees and side dishes, then finish with a special dessert. Make a point to eat slowly and give your full attention to your food so you can savor every last bite.

One common mistake that people make when planning their Thanksgiving holiday is coming to the feast on an empty stomach. If you let yourself get too hungry, you’ll be more likely to eat to excess. Being hungry can also make it harder to regulate your emotions and control your cravings for drugs or alcohol.

5. Bring Your Own Beverage.

Ideally, your host should provide a non-alcoholic beverage choice for guests who don’t drink. Unfortunately, this is a detail that not everyone remembers. Avoid a sticky situation by simply bringing your own non-alcoholic beverage option.

Sparkling cider, herbal tea, flavored water, or a fruity non-alcoholic punch are excellent beverage choices for a Thanksgiving meal. Bring enough to share and you may find yourself surprised by how many guests decide to spend the day sober with you.

6. Stay Busy.

Keeping yourself busy throughout the event will help calm your nerves and reduce the intensity of any cravings you might have. Volunteer to help set the table, put the finishing touches on a few side dishes, or entertain any impatient young children. Your helpfulness will be appreciated and you’ll make new memories in the process.

7. Go to a Meeting.

It’s common for 12 step programs to host multiple meetings throughout the holidays, so there’s probably one near wherever you are traveling. Connecting with others in recovery can help you stay on the right path. If desired, you could use this opportunity to invite a supportive friend or family member to attend an open meeting with you.

8. Plan an Escape Route.

Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but it’s always a good idea to come up with a graceful way to exit a situation that starts to feel like it’s just too much. Consider having a friend on standby who can send a text or call with an “emergency” that lets you leave the party early if needed.

Another easy way to exit a situation is to simply inform everyone ahead of time that you have another appointment later in the day and will need to leave early. This strategy works well for situations where you know that you won’t be feeling up to socializing for the entire event.

By Dana Hinders

If you or someone you love needs addiction treatment, please call St. Joseph Institute at 888-352-3297.

 

Staying Sober During the Holidays

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