Addiction takes a huge toll on the body and the mind. It’s not just the drugs themselves that do damage, it’s the lifestyle. Stress, chaos, neglect and unhealthy habits build over time. Most addicts arrive in recovery depleted, sometimes with unaddressed health issues. It takes time to come back physically and mentally from active addiction but adopting a few healthy habits early on can speed the process.
Self-care is about making your physical, emotional and mental health a priority, and it may be a foreign concept. Making steady, small changes on a regular basis can go a long way towards creating a healthy, happy lifestyle. Here are seven things you can start doing right now to get and stay healthy.
1. Get Enough Sleep
This is sometimes easier said than done, but it really does make a difference. When we sleep, our bodies make necessary repairs, and so does our brain. Sleep deprivation, if left unchecked, can contribute to illness, disease, and in the case of the recovering addict, relapse. Think about it. It isn’t easy to make good decisions when you are exhausted. Being overly tired can have you feeling irritable, impatient and unfocused. This mental environment can make it surprisingly easy to turn to drugs or other unhealthy behaviors.
Having trouble sleeping? Try to go to bed and wake up at regular times, avoid the internet for two hours before bed and avoid caffeine after three p.m. to help you get to sleep more easily.
2. Eat Quality Foods
One common habit among addicts in early recovery is to load up on sugar and carbs. There are a few reasons for this. One, sugar gives you a quick, feel-good boost. In early recovery, your brain and body are adapting to being without alcohol or drugs. Your dopamine levels are low, your energy levels may be low and you may be feeling sluggish and depressed. This is why you are reaching for foods high in sugar and carbs. The problem is that these foods are doing nothing to help your body and mind heal, in fact, they are doing the very opposite. And, they elevate blood sugar, which inevitably drops and then leaves you feeling tired, cranky and looking for more sugar. Sound familiar?
Your body is in desperate need of proteins and other valuable nutrients to fuel your body and make the repairs it needs to get you feeling and looking healthy again. Feed it veggies, fruits and foods rich in protein. Some examples: Lean meats, fish such as salmon, nuts (almonds, cashews, and walnuts are good choices), spinach and other leafy greens and healthy grains.
3. Move Your Body
You don’t have to put in two hour workouts or get an expensive gym membership, but do start exercising. Exercise doesn’t just help you look your best when you exercise several things happen in your body and brain that will drastically improve the way you feel. Take a brisk walk every day. Do jumping jacks, push ups or squats in your living room. Go swimming or hiking. Do something physical every day.
4. See A Doctor
Many addicts arrive in recovery not having seen a regular doctor in years. Making an appointment for a check-up may seem overwhelming or even unnecessary, but it is an essential part of self-care. If you do not have medical insurance, get help in applying for assistance so that you can start seeing a doctor. Make an appointment and keep it. This is a good commitment to yourself to take better care of you. When you take good care of yourself, it not only helps ensure a healthier future, it also increases your self-esteem.
5. Drink Lots Of Water
This is a simple one! It is surprising how many people are wandering around dehydrated. Water is essential to life, and it helps your body rid itself of toxins. Did you know that even mild dehydration can cause irritability, lack of focus, fatigue and headaches? It’s true. Keeping hydrated is an easy way to feel good and stay healthy.
There is a good chance that you may be deficient in one or more vitamins and minerals. In fact, studies show that more than 50% of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, which is essential to many physical, mental and mood-stabilizing functions. When you go to the doctor, talk to him or her about supplements, and what you should be taking.
Meditation is good for your health. It helps increase focus, cognitive performance and reduces levels of stress. Reducing stress helps increase your body’s ability to fight off illness and heal itself.
Meditation does not necessarily mean sitting for an hour in the lotus position with a blank mind. If you can sit for five minutes in a comfortable position, breathe in and breathe out, you can meditate. The key isn’t to clear your mind but to simply allow thoughts to pass through without giving them any attention. You can start with just a couple of minutes and build up gradually to ten, fifteen or even twenty minutes over time. Check out this TED talk about the power of taking just 10 minutes a day to sit quietly.
On Changing Habits
Getting clean and sober is a huge change and change isn’t easy. Adopting healthy habits is a good goal, but making too many changes at once isn’t always realistic. Progress not perfection is the key, so if you find yourself having difficulty incorporating all these habits, start with one or two. Drink more water and take a walk. Focus on making that doctor appointment. Substitute one sugary snack for a healthy one. Slow, steady changes are the key to long-lasting success.
First Things First
All the healthy habits in the world won’t do you any good if you are still using. If you are struggling with addiction, getting clean and sober is the first step. At Broadway Treatment Center , we can help you recover from your addiction, and start living a healthy life full of vitality and potential. Call (714)443-8218 today for more information about our program.