Finding the best ways to aid in addiction recovery can be difficult, and no one method works for everyone. Some find they feel better when they use a combination of daily exercise and therapy, while others prefer a support group so that they can share their ideas and feelings with a group.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can learn to cope with life in recovery that can be done alone or with others, and many of them involve a little workout, so you can get in some exercise at the same time. Working up a sweat is a great way to boost your mood and can help with depression, so if you enjoy getting fit, it’s a good idea to look for different ways you can exercise that won’t leave you feeling bored.
A few of the best alternative coping methods involve yoga, meditation, and swimming. This is because these activities allow you to focus your mind and can relieve stress and anxiety, both of which are triggers for relapse in many individuals who are in recovery.
Here are a few of the best reasons you should try one–or all–of these methods.
Swimming is one of the most relaxing exercises there is. The silky feeling of the water as you glide through it, the low rushing sound in your ears, the gentle way your body becomes weightless–these are all things most people experience once they get into the water, and to top it all off, swimming is fun, which means there’s a very small chance you’ll get tired of it. You can also do it alone or join a class at your local YMCA, which can help you get social and meet new people.
It also allows you a fuller range of motion than if you were exercising on land, which means if you have aches and pains, old injuries, or are trying to lose weight, being in the water can help you forget your physicality for a few minutes and just allow you to be.
Yoga and meditation often go hand-in-hand, but they can be done separately. The great thing about yoga is that it can be done at your own pace. There’s no need to feel as though you need to keep up with a class if that setting makes you uncomfortable; simply invest in a DVD or find a channel on YouTube and practice yoga from the comfort of your own home.
Many people in recovery who have tried yoga say they feel it helped them achieve an inner peace–and stop chasing external gratification from substances, food, and bad habits–that they never knew was there. Yoga encourages the user to look inward for balance and focus on tuning in to themselves, rather than the outside world. Nowadays, with everyone so connected to smartphones and social media, this is a good thing.
Some who have tried yoga also say they experienced an increased control over stress and anxiety, two known factors for triggering relapses in recovery.
Like yoga, meditation focuses on inner peace and strength and can allow the user to find new ways of coping when they are faced with a craving or temptation. The bonus is that meditation can be done anywhere, at any time, so when you feel out of control, it’s easy to step back, focus on your breathing, and go to the place in your mind that makes you feel calm.
One of the biggest benefits of meditation is that it allows you to narrow down your thoughts, which can help you block out the negative ones and quiet your mind. Sometimes, an overflow of thoughts and feelings can be overwhelming and can cause serious damage to recovery. Meditation can help you direct them and learn how to cope with them.
Of course, it’s never a good idea to start a new routine of any kind without consulting your doctor first. Talk to him about the benefits of swimming, yoga, or meditation and how you can use it in conjunction with your current treatment method.