“You were sick, but now you’re well again, and there’s work to do.” ~Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake Too often, people in early recovery from substance abuse are so wrapped up in what they HAVE to do that they forget WHY they are doing it. Getting clean and sober again after abusing drugs or alcohol does not have to be a joyless life of drudgery. In fact, treating your mind and body right may just aid in your successful recovery.
#1 Treat Your Mind Right – Get Rid of Guilt
Addiction is a disease that causes – and is caused by – unproductive, dysfunctional negative feelings. Holding on to guilt and shame about the things you may have said or done when you were actively addicted does NOT help your recovery. On the contrary, shame and remorse may cause you to relapse. Here is how you let go of those negative feelings, just like you learned from your counselor and from 12-Step meetings:
- Admit your wrongs – your words, your deeds, and the harm you caused
- Apologize sincerely and make direct amends where you can
- Move forward with your life and try to do better
When you have done those three things, you no longer have to be burdened with self-destructive shame, guilt, or remorse. Instead, you can focus on where you are NOW – on the way to a brighter future.
#2 Treat Your Body Right – Learn How to Eat Healthy
Addiction is a disease that wreaks havoc on your body – you either never ate, or you ate too much of the wrong things. As a result, you may still be physically weak, malnourished, or vitamin-deficient. As part of your recovery, your treatment program should have you speak with a nutritionist who can help you create a whole-new plan. And why is this important? First and foremost, it can help you restore your health – providing you with the valuable vitamins and minerals you need. But just as important, learning how to eat properly can aid in your successful recovery. Hunger pangs can often be mistaken for cravings for drugs or alcohol, and when that mistake is made, it can trigger relapse. Learning to tell the difference and how to satiate those hunger pangs in a healthy way will safeguard your sobriety.
#3 Treat Your Mind Right – Renew Your Relationships
Addiction is a lonely disease – when you were off chasing the next drink or the next fix, you probably felt isolated from the people who you wanted to be closest to – your family and friends. Now that you are in recovery and have admitted your wrongs and tried to make amends, you may find that your loved ones are overjoyed to have you back. And that’s a good thing for your sobriety – your personal support system is one of the most important factors that can help determine your successful recovery.
#4 Treat Your Body Right – Get Active
When you first set out on your sober journey, you probably feel physically weak and lethargic. As your brain continues to “reset” itself, that will soon pass. You can help jumpstart your physical recovery by engaging in an exercise program. Exercise can be EXTREMELY beneficial to a person in recovery. Regular exercise been shown to help with stress reduction, depression, and nervous anxiety – all conditions that can trigger relapse. As you get back into shape, you will also notice an improvement in your self-esteem. Feeling good about yourself is essential to your successful recovery.
#5 Treat Your Mind Right–Explore Your Interests
Healing from addiction is all about finding new ways to do things. At one point, substance abuse was how you stimulated your mind. Now, you need to find new, healthier ways to enjoy yourself. Obviously, now might be the right time to once again pick up a hobby you used to enjoy – painting, music, etc. But it can also be an excellent time to broaden your horizons – go to museums, take a class, or even travel. Studies have shown that when a person in recovery engages in a new, presumably-pleasurable activity – whether they initially feel like it or not – they start reporting an improvement in their overall satisfaction with their life. And, also, exploring new interest can be an excellent way to make new, positive associations with other people – new friends who have nothing to do with your old, addicted lifestyle.
#6 Treat Your Mind and Body Right – Take Time to Relax
Life in early recovery can be a whirlwind of activity – hours of rehab classes, 12-Step meetings, community service, work, social obligations, daily chores, etc. It can seem as if you never have a moment to yourself. MAKE time for yourself – your recovery is helped when you are able to slow down and take a moment:
- Count your blessings
- Review your day – what you did right and what you want to work on
- Process your feelings
Not only does this help you calmly restore your mental balance, it also reduces stress, both of which are necessary for your continued and successful recovery. The #1 reason you are in recovery is for YOU – you are the only you you are going to ever have, When you take care of your body and mind during recovery, you are not taking away from that recovery, you are adding to it.