How Exercise and Self-Care Can Help You Recover From Addiction

Statistics show that 19.7 million individuals aged 12 and over struggled with addiction in the U.S. in 2017. If you are recovering from a substance abuse disorder, physical fitness and self-care are two of the best tools available for helping you on your journey.

The Positive Effects of Physical Fitness

There is evidence that exercise combined with other treatments can help addicts stop or reduce their consumption of alcohol and drugs. It’s also been shown to aid in preventing relapse. Essentially, physical fitness improves mental health, which helps safeguard against a return to alcohol or drug abuse because many turn to these substances to escape from mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and psychological strain. For example, stress drives people to ‘drinking’ or ‘doing’ drugs for temporary relief.

Exercise may help offer a healthier release from mental troubles. It gives you more energy, boosts your mood, and helps you sleep better at night, among other benefits. This is in part because it causes a rush of endorphins in your brain that creates a sensation of happiness. It also creates opportunities to connect with others, which can chase away feelings of isolation and loneliness (also correlated with substance abuse).

Aerobic exercises like cycling, running, jogging, dancing, and swimming have been proven to be the best kind for mental health. Try Zumba, Tae Bo, or one of the numerous free exercise videos available on Youtube. The goal is to get your heart pumping, but even walking can positively affect your mental state. 

Technological advancements like fitness trackers can help you track your progress and enhance your overall experience. A smartwatch, while not necessary, can offer you added safety and the pleasure of seeing physical proof of your physical accomplishments. 

The Development of a Healthy Routine

Part of recovery is maintaining a sustainable, long-term healthy routine. The best way to do this is to start small, with just one thing, and gradually add to the routine over time. Set attainable goals, such as working out just 15 minutes a day. The most important thing is to do the designated task and keep doing it consistently. Eventually, the routine will become like second nature to you.

The Importance of Self-Care

Research shows that self-care promotes good mental health. Part of this is your environment. Clean and organize your home. Toss out or donate unneeded items. Decluttering is mentally beneficial and opens up space in your home and mind.

If staying in your neighborhood or city puts you in danger of falling back into old habits, it may be time for a new start. When planning a move, you can find affordable apartments in Seattle by viewing online listings. When you visit sites like Apartment List, you can even take virtual 3D tours of some units which can be really supportive if you’re in a sensitive mental health state. . 

Address underlying issues now rather than later — this is what self-care means. Take time for yourself to do activities you enjoy when life overwhelms you. Don’t dismiss or try to push aside your emotions, or keep pushing until you break. It is perfectly normal to need a break to recharge. Self-care manifests itself differently for each person because everyone has different needs. What it boils down to is this: Do the things that make you feel happy and fulfilled. And explore what those things are without external substance or even people. Of course, community and healing are a big part of self-care but oftentimes not being alone can be a sign that you need to give yourself undivided attention. 

Other pursuits that may be beneficial to your mental health include yoga, meditation, and coloring. At times, you may need to fill up your schedule so that your mind doesn’t have the time to go down the negativity or cravings route. As you fill yourself up with more loving actions towards yourself, free up your time and simply be with yourself. 

Mental and physical health are closely tied together. Taking care of yourself physically, as well as mentally, can help you resist the temptation to relapse. And with consistent, patient love toward yourself, you may discover something new. 


Read The Latest

Exploring Heart-Mind Coherence: 3 Practices for Transformation

Exploring Heart-Mind Coherence: 3 Practices for Transformation

I am reminded by one of my teachers (can a teacher be an author I’ve never met? :-P) that we live in a culture that places a lot of emphasis on material wealth, our appearances, and resolute perseverance. I don’t want to call these out as “bad” things. But perhaps I’m...