Developing Good Health Habits in Recovery
Last week, in Part II of this series, we looked at finding a healthy balance between momentary and long-term satisfactions. Below, we’ll look at one more component of building a new life in recovery – developing good health habits.
Whether you’re in recovery from addiction or not, good health habits are the cornerstone of overall well-being. In such a fast-paced society, with so much to do and so many distractions, it is more important than ever to remember to take care of ourselves and our bodies. Below are the 7 essential health habits Dr. Tom Horvath discusses in chapter 12 of his book, “Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate.”
1. Get Enough Sleep
It’s likely that when you were actively pursuing your addiction, sleep fell to the wayside. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This could be slightly higher or lower, depending on your needs. If you’re finding it difficult to ignore all the after-hours activity going on around you, spending some time on a quiet activity before you go to bed may help you fall asleep.
2. Eat Well, But Not Too Much
Just as with sleep, you probably didn’t value nutrition as much when you were drinking or using. It’s never too late to start eating well. Find nutritious, whole foods that your body is designed to digest. Eat only when you’re hungry and just until you’re full. It’s ok to indulge in a not-so-healthy food every once in a while, but do so in moderation. If you find you’re having a hard time regulating your eating, consult a nutritionist that can help you recognize and respond to your body’s cues. If you’re unsure what you should be eating, you might want to consult a dietician that can help you come up with a meal plan that works for you.
3. Wash Your Hands Frequently
Germs are everywhere and the more we interact with each other, the more likely we are to come into contact with germs that can, and will, attack our immune system.
4. Take Care of Your Teeth
Extended use of alcohol and drugs can wreak havoc on teeth, even with the best of hygiene. Studies have shown that poor dental health is associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, pancreatic cancer and heart disease. Brush at least twice a day, floss daily and visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings and check-ups!
5. Exercise and Stretch
Exercise has several benefits. In addition to making you stronger and helping you prevent injuries, exercise is known to improve mood, boost energy and improve your sleep. The CDC recommends adults get 2.5 hours of quality physical activity each week and exercise that strengthens all the muscle groups at least 2 days a week. Of course, your mileage may vary. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
6. Get Rest and Relaxation
This is different than getting enough sleep. You need to find time to wind down and get away from work and stimulating activities. As Dr. Horvath points out, “if you regularly overwork or get over-stimulated, you may turn outside yourself for help to calm down …” By turning to an external source, such as an addictive behavior, you will reduce your natural ability to relax. Break the cycle and schedule down-time for yourself.
7. Stay Connected to Others and to Nature
As Dr. Horvath points out, modern science is finding that connections to others and to nature are vital to our well-being, even though scientists are not exactly sure why. Be sure to nurture your relationships with others and maintain contact with nature.
These 7 tips will get you on your way to developing healthy habits. Together with Part I and Part II of this series you now have a complete guide to building a new life in recovery. You can read more about Dr. Horvath’s book here.
For a complete, personalized treatment plan that will help get you on your way to building a new life, call us today. We can help!