Every year, millions of Americans successfully complete inpatient treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction. For many, the idea of rehabilitation can be frightening as it means having to face demons, work through emotional baggage, and learn the strength to stay away from influences that may lead to a relapse. Getting back to a healthy and happy lifestyle isn’t easy, but with persistence and a few goals, it’s attainable.
But rebuilding your life after addiction doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. While there will undoubtedly be days that present challenges, sobriety ultimately opens the door to a life of happiness.
Here are 10 ways you can lead a happy and healthy life in recovery!
Eat a Healthy Diet
Despite becoming abstinent from alcohol and/or drugs, your body has likely been lacking from proper nutrients for a long period of time. This is why a balanced diet is crucial to the recovery process. Not only will it have a positive impact on your mood and behavior, it can also help rebuild damaged tissues and organs. Avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, and caffeine. Eat antioxidant-rich foods and be sure to fill up on fiber and high-quality lean proteins.
Stick with a Sleep Schedule
It’s no secret that there’s a significant link between addiction and sleep. In fact, individuals struggling with substance use are 5 to 10 times more likely to have sleep disorders. Because addiction is also known to disrupt your body’s circadian rhythms, consistent, quality sleep is crucial to maintaining recovery.
Start an Exercise Routine
Working out on a regular basis can help to restore your brain’s balance of “feel good” endorphins known as dopamine. Not to mention, exercise can help curb cravings, reduce stress, and improve energy levels. In the early stages, start out slow and work your way up. The key to getting into the flow of an exercise routine is to find activities you enjoy. Try a meditative yoga class or go for regular walks to get some sunshine and fresh air.
Learn Stress Management Techniques
In the early stages of recovery, it’s crucial to have a stress management plan in place to help prevent the possibility of relapse. One of the most powerful tools for relapse prevention is an acronym called HALT, which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. When these basic needs are not met, it’s much more likely to turn to self-destructive behaviors rather than healthy coping mechanisms.
Be More Mindful
Addiction often goes hand in hand with feelings of guilt and shame. But practicing mindfulness in recovery can help to calm negative feelings of self-doubt. In short, mindfulness is the practice of giving your full attention to the present moment, taking notice of what you’re thinking and/or feeling, and removing filters, judgement, and criticism from your thoughts. In time, and with dedicated practice, mindfulness has the ability to rewire an addicted brain by teaching it new and better ways to respond to stress, cravings, and triggers.
Set Goals (and Work to Keep Them)
Goal setting is a vital instrument in the recovery toolbox. Not only do goals provide a sense of purpose in life, they can also make your journey seem less intimidating. Start out by defining an overarching long-term goal. From there, create smaller short-term goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T framework –– specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
Practice Self Love
Initially, alcohol and/or drugs can make people feel more confident, energetic, and full of life. More often than not, however, these feelings are merely an illusion, a mask for the deep-rooted emotional pain and insecurities that a person is so desperately trying to escape. In order to stay happy and healthy in sobriety, it’s important to be diligent about practicing self-love. Create positive daily affirmations. Start journaling. Read inspirational books. And, most importantly, treat yourself with compassion and kindness.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
Falling back into your old, toxic crowd is a surefire way to jeopardize your sobriety. That’s not to say that you should only hang out with people who are sober. Make sure to surround yourself with people who support your health and encourage your success by holding you accountable for your actions.
Explore New Hobbies
One of the many joys of sobriety is having newfound spare time to discover new hobbies and interests. Filling your schedule with positive activities that promote healthy mental or physical stimulation is especially important in the early stages of recovery. Why? Because too much free time can lead to one of the most common relapse triggers: boredom. Start by brainstorming and make a list of every activity that comes to your mind. You might be surprised to find out what really piques your interest!
In active addiction, it’s easy to lose perspective on the things that truly matter in life. Recovery opens up the door for new experiences and interactions –– sans substances. A great way to increase happiness and positivity is through volunteering. Not only will you wind up improving your self-confidence, you can also bring a sense of meaning and purpose back to your life and others.