5 Ways to Maintain a Continuously Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy lifestyleWhen someone is going through a residential treatment program, their day is packed with classes, counseling sessions, and group activities. Their full schedule keeps them centered and focused. Once that person is discharged from treatment, they face the challenge of staying sober in a less structured or controlled environment. For many people, those first weeks out of residential treatment come as a major test to their new lifestyle.

A great way to stay focused on sobriety is to keep your week structured and commit to specific plans for each day. Plans may include visiting family members, keeping health-related appointments, or regularly meeting with a coach or mentor. If you allow too much downtime or idleness, you are likely to wind up in trying situations and face stronger temptation to relapse. Here are five practices to keep you on a healthy path.

Prioritize sleep

When you’re starting recovery, sleep is nothing to be overlooked. Your body desperately needs sleep to recover each day. Addiction recovery research shows that sleep disturbances are highly common in early stages of recovery. Recovering addicts are five times more likely to battle insomnia than the general population. Since sleep can be challenging, allow at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to give your mind and body the rest they need. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, you may be more susceptible to lapses in judgment and poor decision making.

Stimulants like nicotine and caffeine work against our natural sleep cycles. Avoid consuming caffeine within eight hours of going to bed. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, create a nighttime ritual to train your body to relax. New research shows that looking at your phone screen in bed can slow your brain’s ability to unwind for the night. Best practice is to stop using your phone about an hour before going to sleep.

Find an accountability partner

Accountability is critical to success in addiction recovery. After you leave treatment, identify someone who can keep you accountable in your day-to-day choices. Having an accountability partner can help you put situations into perspective and keep you on track to make healthy decisions. Make sure that person is someone reliable and focused on a healthy lifestyle. If you partner with someone who is struggling with their own substance abuse, you may be less likely to stay sober if they falter. Don’t let someone else’s relapse pull you down a bad direction. Surround yourself with people who support your new lifestyle.

Make spirituality part of your week

Consider incorporating a spiritual or religious practice into your week. This might include attending church services or support groups to help guide you spiritually. You may also find a sense of peace by practicing meditation, yoga, Pilates, prayer, or breathing exercises. If you aren’t comfortable with those types of activities, simply start your day with a walk or other activity that gives you space to think. Let these practices help you discover your purpose and set your intent for the day.

Attend Alcoholic Anonymous or other recovery support groups

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups are a great place to connect with people who share your struggles. Treat these meetings as a space where people can relate to what you’re feeling and share strength and hope that life without substances is rewarding. These are people who are in the trenches with you, learning to manage cravings and triggers. They understand the challenges of recovery firsthand. Make these meetings part of your weekly routine to keep your perspective and attitudes in check.

Find a workout regimen

One of the best ways to keep your week structured is to implement a workout routine. Finding an exercise-related hobby is a healthy way to practice discipline, keep your body active, and relieve stress. We tend to intuitively know the physical benefits of working out, but health research continues to uncover more mental benefits. Regular exercise supports memory and learning, improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety.

Consider joining a gym, yoga studio, or other aerobics class. If you enjoy being outside, consider hiking, biking, or climbing. Your local community center or city recreation office likely has clubs or scheduled activities where you participate in a group.

Stay on the right track

Each of these ideas can help you keep your time structured to stay focused. When you start your week, run through your plans for each day to make sure you’re intentional about that structure. If you used to drink or use drugs at certain times or intervals, consider filling those times with healthier habits. Forming new traditions can help you navigate those times that are most challenging.

Do you feel yourself slipping into a relapse? Go through this checklist to get a pulse on your situation.

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