Recovery is defined by SAMSHA as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Many people think that recovery is merely abstaining from a substance, but it’s far more than that. It is a continuous effort to better oneself. There are many different paths a person can take to achieve wellness. The adventure of recovery can often become frustrating and even arduous at times. Change is a necessary part of life, is a process, and is so worth the struggles. Here are some hacks that I have personally developed that aid in the journey.
Writing down our thoughts at the end of each day can revolutionize our thought process. Our minds tend to create abstract, and hard to understand ideas. This is exacerbated in early recovery due to Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). PAWS lasts for up to 24 months into recovery. The mind is beginning to heal in this stage, and it can experience fuzzy thinking, forgetfulness, stress, irrational thoughts, and confusion. Taking pen to paper with these thoughts allow us to hack the behavioral cycle. Problems become smaller, and more concrete when they can be seen. It’s therapeutic and freeing.
2.) Stay Busy
Becoming active is paramount in recovery. However, remember that what we do matters. We shouldn’t simply fill our time with trivial tasks, but create time for things that continue to allow us to grow. 12 step meetings, Church activities, volunteer work, family time, and health/fitness, are all great ways to fill our time while also improving our recovery. This is an incredible tool for dealing with PAWS. Placing ourselves around healthy people, and healthy means of releasing Dopamine will produce a life that keeps us accountable and happy. Boredom is one of the most significant reasons for relapse in early recovery.
3.) Make a Gratitude List
Staying focused on the negative is easy. Most of us, if we are honest, have messed our lives up pretty well. However, we have a ton to be grateful for even when it’s hard for us to see. Meditating on the positive things in our lives actually aids in the release of Dopamine and Serotonin. Start small, listing around 10 items. Everyday build on that list, never repeating. See how far you can go. What better of a way is there to battle depression.
This one is huge and is most often overlooked. We are what we eat. Certain foods like wheat (gluten), starch, and refined sugar can cause depression and steal your energy. Other foods that contain caffeine, guarana, sugar, and some food dye, can cause anxiety and restlessness. While eating foods that contain protein, omega 3’s, vitamins, and amino acids, can actually increase energy, decrease anxiety and depression, and enhance brain function. We should all do ourselves a favor and eat better. These reasons don’t even include the benefit of losing weight and raising self-esteem. Just do it!
Ok, talk about a natural high, this will do so many things in recovery it is incredible. Working out with weights and doing cardio will increase metabolism, energy, Dopamine, Endorphins, and raise self-esteem. It decreases body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure, stress, and fatigue. Participating in activities that get us active creates a perfect scenario for the body and the brain to heal themselves. Why in the world wouldn’t we want to look, feel, and be better? Get out there and get active.
Recovery is a process towards improved health and wellness. Striving to reach one’s full potential is a task everyone should be shooting for, no matter the difficulty. Most all of the most significant accomplishments in life are achieved through struggle, commitment, and they always involve change. I encourage you to embrace the change and become the version of yourself that is your destiny and don’t settle.