Did you have a bad day at work? Was traffic a nightmare on your way home? Did you argue with your spouse or significant other? Are you tempted to forget about your recovery and pour yourself a drink? Or maybe you had a fabulous day and are looking for a recovery friendly celebration. Either way, run yourself a bubble bath! Enjoying a bubble bath may sound trivial in the face of addiction recovery, but a nice warm bath can be helpful in maintaining your chosen sober lifestyle. Why? A soak in the tub is an example of self-care.
January 8 is officially National Bubble Bath Day. The bubbles on top of the bathwater act as insulation and keep the water warmer for a longer period of time. If you have a cold or the flu a nice, steamy bath can help relieve nasal and chest congestion. If you’ve had a strenuous workout a soak in the tub can relieve sore muscles. A nice bath also helps to relieve stress and can make falling asleep at bedtime easier.
Self-care plays an important role in recovery because an active addiction can lead to self-neglect– lack of exercise, poor diet, increased stress, etc. Many people who are struggling with addiction turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with stress, boredom, or strong negative emotions. It’s a maladaptive coping mechanism, in that the drugs or alcohol helped- until they didn’t. An important part of recovery is finding healthy ways to cope with negative emotions, as well as healthier ways to celebrate. Making time to take care of yourself isn’t selfish; it is akin to putting on your own oxygen mask first when the cabin pressure drops in the aircraft before you help other people with their oxygen masks. Taking care of yourself helps you in your recovery and in maintaining sobriety.
Many people begin their journey of recovery because they want to start living to their fullest potential. Part of that involves taking care of your body and paying attention to your diet, your sleep, and exercise.
Eat nutritious food. Most people who are struggling with a serious addiction either make poor food choices from a nutritional standpoint or lose interest in eating and fail to consume enough calories. Avoid or reduce your intake of processed food, refined grains, sugary beverages, and artificial sweeteners. Instead, nutritionists recommend that whenever possible you eat whole foods, which is defined as foods that are “not processed or modified from its original form” (U.S. News and World Report, “You’re In Recovery, What Should You Eat,” December 3, 2018), organic food, or locally grown foods.
Playwright William Shakespeare was right when he wrote about the importance of sleep in Macbeth, calling sleep “sore labour’s bath, Balm of hurt minds.” Drug and alcohol abuse interferes with good sleep which is problematic because sleep restores your brain and your body. Adequate rest (seven or eight hours for most adults) helps with learning and recalling new information, solving problems, focusing on tasks, making decisions, and creating. While you are asleep, your heart and blood vessels are repaired. Sleep problems have been connected with heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity. Enlightened Solutions’ blog on Beating Insomnia During Addiction Recovery offers helpful tips to improve sleep. Avoid blue light (light emitted from television and computer screens) an hour before bedtime. If you have trouble sleeping, reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex. Keep your bedroom tidy. Set the temperature between 60 and 70 degrees. According to the National Sleep Foundation, that temperature range is the most conducive to sleep. Consider wearing an eye mask and earplugs to eliminate distractions. Reduce stress at night by writing in a journal, practicing mindful breathing, or meditating. If you need additional help to get to sleep, try natural sleep aids like melatonin, tryptophan, or GABA.
Regular exercise is good for everyone (assuming there are no medical issues that would preclude exercise) and especially for those in recovery. Regular exercise can reduce the incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, and other health problems. In terms of the mental and emotional benefits, spending 30 minutes engaged in aerobic exercise (like walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing) will improve sleep, reduce stress, increase mental alertness, and improve mood overall. Exercise also leads to greater self-confidence and more social interaction.
For people in recovery, participating in a fitness program of some sort is very important for a number of reasons. A regular exercise program can provide structure for the day and fills some of the time that used to be spent drinking or using drugs. Exercise can distract you from cravings and can alleviate boredom. For these reasons and others, many treatment centers include exercise and fitness as part of their programs.
Proper nutrition, restful sleep, and exercise (and bubble baths) are all examples of self-care and are important to you in your journey of recovery.
At Enlightened Solutions, we do far more than help our clients reach sobriety–we equip them with the life skills and self-care techniques they need to maintain sobriety as part of the healthy lifestyle they have embraced. Our clients have the opportunity to learn to prepare organic meals from produce that they have helped to grow on our farm. Here at Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients a variety of fitness options and teach relaxation techniques that will lead to more restful sleep. We are located on the New Jersey shore and we offer alternative therapies to complement the one-on-one and group counseling that we provide. The therapies that we offer include art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, and family constellation therapy. Every client has a treatment program developed specifically for them. If you or a family member are tired of addiction and are ready to break free, call us at (833) 801-5483.
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