THE PERFECT DAY: IN RECOVERY
It’s not always easy to think of enjoying your life when you’re struggling to get through another day sober, but you should. Finding moments of peace and happiness is a crucial step in the process of personal reinvention, and now’s the time to take it, with summer bringing plenty of warm weather and clear skies to lift your spirits. Here are some ways to pass the hours from sunrise to sundown.
There is a growing body of evidence that shows how spending time in a natural setting lifts your mood, restores your mental energy, and even soothes anxiety. It’s like a one-way ticket out of the addiction doldrums. The best thing is, you don’t need to book a flight to the Rockies to get what you’re looking for. It could be just around the corner.
According to Time, “Growing research suggests that just about any kind of green space — from hiking trails and coastlines to soccer fields and local parks — can make you happier and boost your mental health, as long as it has a few key qualities.” Those include simple things like trees, water, and open space.
Now, take advantage of that open space. Are you wearing your sneakers? Good, because it’s time to get in a little workout. Don’t worry, there’s no need to start training for the Olympics. A little jog will do trick, or a bike ride, a hike, a swim, or a game of tennis. Whatever strikes your fancy and makes you break a little sweat.
That’s because exercise helps kick depression and cravings by jump-starting dopamine production in your brain, giving you the same high you got from drugs and alcohol, but in a much better way, as you’re body is responding naturally to a physical challenge. And don’t underestimate the buzz, as it could lead to a healthy obsession.
Now that you’ve blown off some steam, it’s time to relax, take a few deep breaths, and clear your mind of everything that’s been weighing on it these last few weeks with a little meditation vacation in the sun. According to an author at Lifehacker, just two minutes is enough to get started.
So what does it do for you? A lot, and some of it is quite surprising. Studies have shown that the practice results in improved short-term memory, increased feelings of compassion, and greater creativity. Most importantly, it reduces anxiety and gets rid of the feelings of “numbness” and depression that lead people to seek a chemical high.
Find a Hobby
Pick up your guitar, your camera, your fishing pole, or your trowel. As Lifehack puts it, “When your brain is bombarded by new stimuli from doing activities, it drowns out addiction-based pains and drives.” Not to mention boredom, which many experts call the ultimate trigger to relapse.
All that negativity will be replaced with renewed self-confidence and possibly even new friendships as you meet others who are into the same stuff as you. And remember that boost in dopamine related to exercise? Turns out that it’s a healthy byproduct of your favorite pastime as well.
Jot It Down
Now that the day is done, take a moment to reflect on the events and how they made you feel, then write about it before you hit the hay. A number of studies show that keeping a journal has a variety of benefits for recovering from addiction, as it helps to contemplate life in the short-term, the first step in affecting long-term change.
Not every day can be perfect as you struggle to juggle work, school, and chores. But you owe it to yourself to make a little “me” time, so use it wisely. That means you have to enjoy that fresh air and sunshine.
*** Written by Adam Cook for Meridian Counseling
Adam Cook is the founder of Addiction Hub, which locates and catalogs addiction resources. He is very much interested in helping people find the necessary resources to save their lives from addiction.