This blog post is going to focus on the importance of self care to the recovering addict or alcoholic who is making an attempt at long-term sober living and recovery. What do I mean by self care? Self care is the steps a recovering addict or alcoholic can take on a daily basis to make sure they are getting their needs met with particular emphasis on diet, exercise, sleep and making sure they are feeding their spiritual and social life through AA, NA or whatever program of recovery they are engaged in.
There are several research studies by physicians, psychologists and other mental health and medical professionals on the importance of diet and exercise to the addict or alcoholic striving for long term recovery and sober living. The reason that diet is so important is because certain foods such as foods high in fat or sugar can have a negative effect on a persons mood. For example, if you normally ate healthy, then were to go to your local fast food restaurant and eat a double bacon cheeseburger, fries and a large soda, you would likely feel sluggish and bloated for the remainder of the day. Many addicts and alcoholics get stuck in a cycle of poor eating habits before making their way into a substance abuse treatment or drug rehab program and these habits continue into their recovery.
Exercise is another important aspect of attaining long-term recovery and being successful at sober living. The health benefits of 30 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular exercise are apparent to everyone, alcoholic, addict or not. However, exercise is particularly important for the addict or alcoholic in recovery. Regular exercise in the form of brisk walking, jogging, elliptical trainer and resistance training helps to burn off excess anger and anxiety and helps the recovering addict or alcoholic to feel more confident and have greater self esteem. In addition, it is good for your physical health!
A good outline for a healthy diet is to eat mostly complex carbohydrates and minimally processed foods such as yams, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, oatmeal etc. For proteins, fish, chicken and lean cuts of steak or ground beef are excellent options. Fats should come mostly from olive oil, nuts, nut butter, avocado and the fat naturally occurring in meat. Some people find supplementation with omega fish oil helpful. Meals should ideally be about 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% healthy fat. Eating smaller meals throughout the day will help to regulate blood sugar levels which effect mood and energy levels. Of course, consult your physician before beginning a new diet and exercise plan.
A guide for a healthy exercise routine would be to get in at least 30 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular exercise five times per week and to do some resistance training at least three times per week. Common wisdom would be to perform resistance training before cardio training as resistance training depletes the body’s stored carbohydrates and therefore the post resistance training cardio will burn more fat than merely using energy from stored carbohydrates. Make sure to eat a full meal 1-2 hours prior to training so you have plenty of energy for your work out.
Following these guidelines for healthy sober living will help to build confidence, self-esteem, increased cognitive functioning, elevated mood and good physical health so that the recovering addict or alcoholic can have the best chance at attaining long-term sustained recovery.
At NorthStar Transitions, we provide the clients in our Boulder substance abuse treatment aftercare program, Boulder sober living apartments and Denver and Boulder drug and alcohol rehab program with guidance and direction on healthy diet and exercise habits vital to their recovery. Additionally, we introduce many of the clients in our Boulder sober living program and Denver sober living program to Phoenix Multisport which is a local Boulder non-profit organization that fosters a supportive sober active environment with activities such as rock climbing, weight lifting, yoga etc.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this blog by NorthStar Transitions, a Denver substance abuse treatment aftercare and Boulder substance abuse treatment aftercare program dedicated to helping clients live sober through our Boulder drug rehab program and Denver drug rehab program. If you or a loved one are in need of substance abuse treatment or sober living, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-787-9377.