Restoring Health and Vitality
After completing an inpatient rehabilitation program, you might feel either excited or overwhelmed by the lifestyle changes required to maintain your health and wellbeing. As you learned in treatment, substance abuse creates chaos, but a nutritious diet, exercise, holistic remedies for stress and pain relief, and other progressive methods help restore health and vitality.
Now that you’re moving forward with sobriety, it’s essential to create attainable wellness goals that can be easily implemented in your daily routine. Small, measurable steps generate a path to steady success. Soon, your new lifestyle changes will simply be second nature and not so overwhelming.
Eating Well Makes All the Difference
There’s a funny saying: “Fitness is 20 percent exercise and 80 percent nutrition. You can’t outrun your fork.” Medical experts around the world want people to take control of disease prevention and better health by fueling their bodies and minds with nutritious choices. Alcohol and drugs deplete vital minerals and vitamins. Once you’ve had a chance to detox chemicals from your system, adding whole foods is easy.
Unfortunately, the traditional Southern diet presents a minefield of less-than-healthy options, many of which compromise cardiovascular health, weight, and body mass index. So in your daily life, shift your perspective to think more about what you’re adding to your plate, rather than what you’re subtracting.
- Leafy greens are always good, so fill half your plate with romaine lettuce and other vegetables. Collard greens are very nutritious if prepared in a healthy way.
- Skinless grilled chicken breast is a healthful choice anytime, while crispy fried chicken is an occasional treat.
- Eat more fresh fruit each day, and share a decadent dessert with someone else once a week.
Making conscious selections this way helps you reduce damaging saturated fats, sugars, and simple carbohydrates.
Find Ways to Move and Build Strength
Here’s another saying to take to heart: “Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.” Exercise is exceptionally good for sobriety because it naturally releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin—the “feel good” brain chemicals that reduce stress and promote better sleep, cognitive functioning, behavior management, metabolism, and other benefits.
Even if you have to manage chronic pain, there are still ways to recognize the amazing ability of your body. Mechanically, it’s designed to move. From gentle yoga or a long walk with a dog to a fast-paced game of basketball or a distance bike ride, find ways to enjoy being active every day and celebrate how much healthier you are now.
- If you’re just starting, good measurable goals for cardio movement are 10 minutes three times a day—or a straight 30 minutes a day—three days a week.
- Strive for three alternate days weekly for strength training. If you’re not used to doing this, here’s an easy beginner’s routine you can do at home that doesn’t require equipment.
Foster Gratitude and Give Back
Motivational coach Zig Ziglar once said: “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Understanding and acting on the power of gratitude is an important wellness initiative, because it puts you in the right frame of mind. This doesn’t mean every day in recovery will be sunshine and roses, but coping techniques you learned during rehab will be easier to access. Start with small actions, such as writing thank-you notes or keeping a gratitude journal.
With gratitude comes the awareness of just how valuable you are to the world and how to best use your special skills to help others. Scientific evidence proves that choosing to volunteer improves your health. Volunteers have:
- A more defined sense of purpose
- An easier time managing anxiety and depression
- Better relationships and deeper connections
- Enhanced physical and emotional health
- Stronger community involvement
To volunteer for a charity or organization, consider what matters to you and go from there. The only “rule” is once you decide, be responsible: show up when you’re scheduled, do what’s needed or what you committed to, and offer authentic support. Choose to donate your time a couple of hours a month to start, and stay open to other possibilities that you can manage in your usual routine.
Commune With Nature
Oprah once shared this observation: “Nature is our greatest spiritual teacher.” Too often, when we find ourselves feeling lost and alone, a simple walk in the woods changes that perspective. Scientists believe that spending a mere five minutes a day outdoors boosts your mood, promotes calm, and heightens your self-esteem. Why is this?
Some studies indicate that humans are naturally drawn to trees, plants, water, and other natural elements because we consider them safe havens, especially in contrast to harsh urban developments. And with our continually-evolving digital world distractions, natural wonders provide what researchers refer to as “attention restoration.”
Another wellness benefit to being outside is you have less opportunity to brood over your troubles. Too often in the early stages of sobriety, people ruminate on what went wrong. While out in nature, your brain’s prefrontal cortex receives extra stimulation, which helps increase positive thoughts. So set a goal for that easy five minutes each day—not simply to walk from your car into work, but a deliberate pause in one of your favorite natural spots.
Learn More About Wellness from Willingway
Our continuing care community groups throughout the Southeast give you and your loved ones a chance to focus on more essential wellness tools for recovery. Check out this list for the meeting closest to you.