Getting sober can feel like a daunting task. Many people in early sobriety find it difficult to fill their time or do simple tasks because of the lack of chemically-induced stimulation the drugs were providing. Some may have neglected their bodies for years and have many medical complications because of this. There is science that shows that healing in all three areas of mind, body, and soul. This may increase the chances of achieving long term sobriety, and more importantly, enjoying life.
Physical Downfall from Addiction
Addiction leads to neglect financially, socially, spiritually and of course, physically. Many people suffer from problems associated with extreme weight loss like lack of vitamins which can lead to losing hair and teeth, as well as discoloration of the skin. Some people are exposed to severe illnesses like liver problems, hepatitis C or HIV. An addict’s brain chemistry changes when they are using drugs or alcohol. This makes it harder to enjoy simple things in life, such as walking outside or spending time with family. When addressing a holistic view of recovery, one must do what is good for the body. When the body starts to heal, this will heal the mind as well, which then can heal the spirit or vise versa.
Getting Excited and Feeling Good
Certain foods and physical activities alter our brain chemistry more than most people are aware of. In early sobriety, the brain’s neurochemical production is off-kilter (i.e. dopamine and serotonin). These are our feel-good chemicals that help us enjoy what we are doing. A newly sober individual can kick start these chemicals again with some positive motivation. To help jump start serotonin we must look at basic life functions, such as exercise, eating, and sleeping. Another suggestion is to cutting back (or out) daily intake of nicotine, caffeine, and sugar. Make sure to take your time and take steps. It can be very simple to incorporate them into your life.
Daily Exercise Routine
Some daily exercise will kick-start those healthy neurotransmitters into action, which make us feel good! Here are a few ways to get back into a healthy exercise routine.
- Start off walking for 30 minutes to one hour a day around the block. If you have a dog or children, this can be even more enjoyable!
- After getting into a routine of walking outside, it can be fun to join a gym or exercise studio. There are usually classes there to attend classes and learn proper techniques.
- Another fantastic way to feel great and honor the body is through yoga. This can help teach meditation and breath techniques as well as certain poses/ stretches to connect back with the body. Many people are very disconnected from their bodies in early sobriety and in this culture.
Eat Healthy Meals
The best way to gauge a healthy meal is to look at macros and micros. Start by asking yourself questions…
- Am I eating protein, healthy carbs and fats with each meal?
- Am I getting fiber?
- Am I getting enough vitamins?
There is so much information on the web about a healthy diet. It can be hard to sort through the nonsense. Typically, crash diets do not produce many long-term results. In the beginning, making sure to cut down on sugars, especially in certain foods. White breads, desserts and cereals can help stabilize blood sugar which can help with overall mood. Instead, eating lots of fruits and veggies with enough protein. Even healthy fats (i.e. nuts and avocados) can have many benefits. Though we strive for ultimate health, it is important to have balance. It is alright to have a cheat day or even a dessert every now and then. Below is an example of a healthy meal plan for the day:
BREAKFAST: omelets with spinach, garlic, mushrooms and cheese
SNACK: smoothie-berries, spinach, peanut butter, soy milk, banana
LUNCH: quinoa, zucchini, onions, chicken
SNACK: almonds or mixed nuts
DINNER: green salad or sautéed veggies and an orange for dessert
Consistent Sleep Schedule
Many times, sleep can be one of the last things to become consistent again in a newly sober person’s life. It does get easier though. Below are some suggestions that will make it easier to get back on track.
5 Tips for Better Sleep
- Wake up and fall asleep around the same time each day. This helps reset circadian rhythm.
- Read books at night instead of watching TV or using electronic devices with bright screens.
- Watching TV puts brain into a more active state than reading, making it harder to sleep.
- Make sure to have a comfortable, safe place to sleep with less noise and light.
- Having trouble sleeping? Try Melatonin or consult with your doctor. Be honest with your doctor, some sleeping pills are addictive!
No More Nicotine
Many people increase nicotine use substantially when getting sober because it is socially acceptable in the sober community to smoke. We all know that nicotine is not good for us, and many studies have proven that quitting nicotine can increase chances of staying sober long term. It is also been recently proven that 50% of people in recovery end up dying from a nicotine related death. It seems like we would want to be healthy and happy when we had just escaped the grips of addiction wouldn’t we? In early sobriety, it is important to concentrate on one problem at a time. However, if you wanting a healthy lifestyle, nicotine has to go!
The Holistic Approach to Health
It is important to integrate simple steps in order to achieve physical health. Remember to maintain your mental and spiritual conditions when adding physical steps into your daily routine. This is referred to as, “the holistic approach to health and recovery.” Though physical health is only one aspect of recovery, many have experienced positive changes in mood and overall quality of life. Please consult with your physician before beginning any health or nutrition program.