Story contribution by Hailey Parks
Living a healthy lifestyle is something that can easily fall to the wayside in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven society. Health and wellness can easily become something that is taken for granted. For people in recovery from addiction or alcoholism, health and wellness can be a tool used to treat mental health and help maintain sobriety.
Addiction and Malnutrition
Those who suffer from addiction are likely to be malnourished, lacking the essential vitamins and nutrients to fuel their bodies for various reasons.
Opiate withdrawal can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting which can lead to a lack of nutrients and an electrolyte imbalance. However, eating balanced meals during detox, including foods high in fiber, whole grain carbohydrates, and lean protein, can actually help make the detox process go smoother.
Alcohol abuse is one of the top causes of nutrient deficiency in the U.S. as people who abuse alcohol tend to lack B vitamins. In addition, many people who abuse alcohol can cause damage to their liver and pancreas, leading to metabolism problems.
Stimulants typically reduce user’s appetites causing weight loss, poor nutrition, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances.
Although abusing drugs or alcohol can lead to nutrient deficiencies, eating a balanced diet and getting sober can help reverse many of these issues.
Nutrition in Recovery
Eating a nutritious diet in early recovery can benefit both physical and mental health. For those choosing to detox, a great way to jump-start the detox process is to eat raw foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Another essential aspect of making the detox process more bearable is by staying properly hydrated.
After detox is over, it is important to keep in mind that drug or alcohol abuse can take a toll on the heart, liver, and brain. To help keep these essential organs healthy, one should consume foods like:
Eating this type of diet in early recovery can be especially difficult because it is common for people in recovery to crave sugary foods. When drugs and alcohol are removed, levels of dopamine drop. Eating sugar, on the other hand, can cause a surge in dopamine levels similar to that of the effects of drugs and alcohol. However, sugar can become an addiction in itself and lead to weight gain. In addition, eating excess sugar can cause fluctuating blood sugar levels. When blood sugar fluctuates up and down, a person can become anxious or depressed, causing their mental health to become unstable. When it comes to sobriety, mental health is just as important as physical health.
Exercise for Mental Clarity
Along with nutrition, exercise can be beneficial in promoting mental health in sobriety. Exercise can help boost mental health in several ways.
As little as 1 hour of physical activity a week is related to less anxiety and fewer drug cravings.
Those who make exercise a regular part of their routine are less likely to suffer from depression, panic disorders, and anxiety.
Serotonin increases during exercise which helps regulate sleep, appetite, and mood.
GABA and Glutamate are responsible for processing emotions and thought patterns. These chemicals are released during exercise which can prevent depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mood disorders.
Exercise lowers stress and is a great outlet for mitigating negative emotions.
Keeping one’s mental health as a top priority during sobriety can help prevent relapse. After all, those who suffer from co-occurring mental illness and addiction typically have a difficult time maintaining sobriety due to the unique obstacles they face. By enjoying an active lifestyle, people in recovery can prevent their mental health symptoms from getting worse.
Mindfulness for Relaxation and Decision Making
It’s easy to let human instincts run the show when feeling anxious, but this can be a recipe for disaster in sobriety. Instead, it is important to learn how to relax in sobriety and to be mindful about making the right decisions. Mindfulness is a useful technique for relaxation and decision making that can be easily incorporated into daily routines
Mindfulness has been proven to help alleviate stress by improving emotion regulation. When individuals have an appropriate way of regulating and processing emotions, they will be able to think clearly about decisions that need to be made. Practicing mindfulness can be as easy as laying down in a comfortable position, closing the eyes, and focusing on breathing. Another way to practice mindfulness is through looking up free mindful meditation videos on the internet. This practice will raise a person’s awareness of their body, energy, feelings, and surroundings.
Practicing mindfulness is also attributed to:
Increased attention and focus
Higher brain function
Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
A shift in perception and mental clarity
Health & Wellness in Maintaining Long Term Sobriety
By eating a nutritious diet, getting adequate exercise, and participating in mindful relaxation exercises, individuals help keep their mind and body healthy in sobriety. After all, people don’t get sober to feel unhealthy and depressed - people get sober to change their lifestyles for the better. Taking care of mental and physical health is a key aspect of living healthy and maintaining long term sobriety
Hailey is a recovering alcoholic and addict who enjoys writing about addiction. After years of neglecting her physical and mental health in sobriety, she began to make dramatic changes in her lifestyle to be happier and healthier. Her passions include helping others, taking hikes with her dog, and spending time by the beach.
Hailey Parks hailey.parks01 @ g mail .com