How to Create Healthy Habits to Maintain Sobriety
Creating healthy habits for your mental and physical wellness is essential to living your best life. For people who are in recovery for addiction, creating these habits is even more important because a healthy lifestyle can also help you maintain sobriety. Building a healthy life in recovery doesn’t happen overnight, though. The key is to start small and take it a day at a time to start a new routine that lasts a lifetime.
Why Healthy Habits Help Maintain Sobriety
Substance abuse harms your body in more ways than one, and recovery is about more than just what is NOT going into your body. What you put into your body and how you care for yourself in recovery is just as important. Eating nutritiously, staying hydrated and getting active are all ways to build yourself back up and improve your health. Developing healthy habits makes you stronger and helps you feel better, and when you feel good and have the self-confidence that comes from this new strength, it’s easier and more rewarding to maintain a healthy and sober lifestyle.
Creating these healthy habits has a mental and spiritual component just as much as it is physical. When you find a sport or other healthy activity you enjoy, it takes your focus off of recovery as deprivation and instead helps you focus on the joy you can now add to life. Many people rediscover a passion and find that they are able to truly enjoy the activities they used to love in ways they never could before recovery.
In addition to engaging in an activity that adds joy to your life, regular exercise also improves mental health by lowering depression and anxiety. The mental health benefits of exercise help you manage stressors, triggers and cravings by giving you the tools you need to cope when these things pop up throughout recovery. While you don’t have to run a marathon, one athlete tells Competitor Running how running clears her mind and even helps her feel spiritually fit, making it easier to manage life’s stresses without relapsing.
How to Make Healthy Habits Stick
Incorporating regular exercise and good nutrition into your lifestyle is about making a long-term change, so don’t try to rush the process. When you’re getting started, The Active Times recommends avoiding an all or nothing mindset. When it comes to healthy eating, if you try to cut out all the bad stuff and attempt a drastic diet, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead of making huge changes, start by making one meal a day “clean,” meaning less processed and more whole food nutrition with plenty of fruits and vegetables and lean meat. Mind Body Green recommends changing one habit a week and making small changes. When you take this measured approach, it’s easier to make healthier choices, and you also start creating habits that become part of your regular routine.
Even when starting out slow, making simple swaps like replacing soda with water can make a big difference in how you feel right away. And even though you shouldn’t try to do too much too fast, take steps to do a healthy activity that you enjoy every day. Even if that’s a short walk around the block while listening to some music you like, prioritizing healthy activities sends your brain a signal that these are enjoyable, so your brain gets used to (and craves) the reward of being active. To reinforce this health habit, reward yourself by doing something else that’s good for you physically or mentally, such as reading a good book or getting a massage.
Your wellness goal in recovery should be to make healthy habits become part of your regular, everyday life. Nothing worth doing in life is quick and easy and that includes creating a healthy lifestyle and staying sober in recovery. Just remember to avoid extremes and instead find joy in simple, daily changes you can make that will set you up for lasting success.
For more information:
Michelle Peterson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Alcohol Awareness Month - April 2018