Our goal in recovery is to get a new lease on life as sober, happy individuals. It can be easy in early recovery to develop routines around our recovery that take up nearly all of our time. Recovery should remain at the forefront of our minds, but whenever we dedicate all of our time to one aspect of our lives, we run the risk of burning ourselves out. We can easily get run-down if we don’t maintain an awareness of our sleep schedule or our eating habits. After all, these have a direct effect on our mood, and we may find that we are better able to concentrate and engage in our recovery plan if we take the time to develop a plan that takes these factors into account. We are on a mission to develop a new way of living filled with love and joy, and we find that we are better able to put these feelings into practice if we are first able to love ourselves.
Get Out into Nature
In Dharma Bums, the beatnik novel by Jack Kerouac, a passage describes his feelings while climbing a mountain, “And true to what Japhy had predicted, I had absolutely not a jot of appetite for alcohol, I’d forgotten all about it, the altitude was too high, the exercise too heave, the air too brisk, the air itself was enough to get your drunk ass drunk.” We find that when we get into nature, we simply feel better. As men and women with the disease of addiction, we may be prone to falling into states of depression or anxiety, but according to the University of Washington’s Urban Forestry/Urban Greening Research Department, “More than 100 studies have shown that relaxation and stress reduction are significant benefits associated with spending time in green areas” and “71% of people found a reduction in depression after going on an outdoor walk versus a 45% reduction by those who went on an indoor walk.”
In recovery, we begin to change the patterns of thought that exacerbated our addiction. Our brains begin healing in sobriety, giving us a new sense of freedom and happiness. One of the best ways to promote this healing is through meditation. In fact, according to Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Sara Lazar, research subjects began to show physical changes in their brains after as little as eight weeks of daily meditation. The psychological benefits of incorporating mediation practices into recovery are just as promising. Laura S., author of 12 Steps on Buddha’s Path, explains that meditation, or “sober concentration”, “strengthens our ability to recognize our ‘primary purpose’ (‘to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety’—as stated in the AA Preamble) and to avoid the ‘selfing’— the deluded attempt at creation of a separate, permanent, unique self that in fact does not and cannot exist—that can distract us from our purpose.”
Play or Listen to Music
In early recovery, especially when dealing with the symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal, stress can be unavoidable. Taking time for simple pleasures, however, such as listening to our favorite music, can provide relief from many of these problems. Jill Suttie, in a Huffington Post article, “5 Ways Music Improves our Health”, writes “Music can prevent anxiety-induced increases in heart rate and systolic blood pressure, and decrease cortisol levels — all biological markers of stress. In one study, researchers found that patients receiving surgery for hernia repair who listened to music after surgery experienced decreased plasma cortisol levels and required significantly less morphine to manage their pain. In another study involving surgery patients, the stress reducing effects of music were more powerful than the effect of an orally-administered anxiolytic drug.” While engaged in the chaos of active addiction, many of us forgot the simple pleasure of listening to our favorite songs.
Help Someone Else
Many of us come to realize that, in our active addictions, we were living selfishly and without regard for other people. As we enter into a life of sobriety, we may find it helpful to begin to “give back” to society in way we were incapable of doing before recovery. Volunteering to help those less fortunate, or turning our attention to helping someone else suffering from the disease of addiction, keeps us from focusing on ourselves and puts us in much less danger of falling into the traps of self-pitying or self-seeking behavior. We recognize that we were given the gift of sobriety, and to maintain this gift we choose to spread the message that recovery is possible. Then, not only are we living a life free of addiction, but we are exercising our newfound usefulness and putting the principles of our new life into practice.
You can make the choice to change the story of your life. Oceanfront Recovery is a treatment center with a professional and compassionate staff of detoxification specialists dedicated to making the process as comfortable as possible. For more information about Drug and Alcohol Detox Programs or other treatment options, please call: (877) 279-1777