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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Little Recess Will Keep Your Recovery On The Right Track

Article courtesy of Constance Ray from www.recoverywell.org


Just like eating your vegetables and flossing your teeth, everyone knows that exercise is good for you. But thousands of wasted gym memberships prove that plenty of people don’t want to do it.

Why does getting regular physical activity have to be such a chore? The problem is, we’ve forgotten what every child knows. The best kind of “exercise” is play. You’re going to have to reach back into the best days of your childhood and find that feeling again. Exercise is the reward you’re giving yourself for all the hard work you’re doing to get sober. This is not a workout. This is playtime. School’s out, let’s have some fun!

Pursue Your Passion:
First thing’s first. You have to move, every single day. Even on days when you don’t really feel like doing anything. So let’s find some things that you actually like doing, so you can get busy doing them. This doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing every day, but you have to do something every day. If you’re sporty, you can check out the local scene and join a team. Do you like music? Enroll in a dance class, break out your old mixtapes and dance in the living room, whatever gets you moving.

Not a big fan of anything that involves sweating? Go for a swim. Do you enjoy being outside and communing with nature? Start going for walks, taking hikes in the woods, or even biking around your neighborhood. Is there anything you ever wanted to try, but were afraid to? Now is your chance. Don’t be afraid of not doing it well, or looking clumsy or silly. Your friends and family want you to be feel better. Consider inviting them to participate in your new sport or hobby activities. It’s always more fun to do stuff with your friends.

In the moment, and in yourself:
In recovery, we are often encouraged to “be in the moment.” Part of that is learning how to reinhabit your body. Focus on taking joy in its movement.  As you get stronger and healthier, you’ll find it can do all sorts of things you didn’t know that it could. Everyday, it will change and adapt. Exercise actually promotes the growth of new nerve cells, so as you keep doing an activity,  you get better and better at it.

Test your own limits and make a game of what you can do and how much you can handle. Get down on the floor and stretch out your body to see how far each bit flexes. Study how you master new movements or physical skills. Keep track of your progress and be proud of your accomplishments.

Arrest Anger and Stave Off Stress: 
As a recovering addict, you’re going to have dark days when you don’t want to move. There will be times when anger almost overwhelms you. This is normal. But studies show that exercise actually has a preventive measure against anger. If you are getting regular exercise, your blow-ups will be weaker and shorter duration. Your mood swings won’t be as wild. Those dark days will be somewhat brighter.

When we are under physical or mental stress, our body makes less serotonin and raises its levels of cortisol, which triggers depression and increases emotional volatility. But when you’re physically active, your brain produces higher levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood and endorphins, which act like painkillers, activating the opioid centers in the brain. This is the source of the fabled “runner’s high.”

So when you know you’re heading into a situation that might be stressful or make you angry, schedule some playtime in advance, doing a little preventative anger management.

You have spent a long time neglecting your health. Now you’re ready to start putting yourself back together and making yourself a priority in your own life. Addiction is a traumatic experience for the body and mind alike. You need to heal. It will take time, and it’s going to be a lot of work.  But if you’re serious about your recovery, a healthy exercise regimen can be a great place to start on the road to a brand new, happier you.  

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