Sobriety means more than just abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
In order to embrace all the possibilities of a life in recovery, you need to nurture your mind, body, and spirit. Taking care of your mental health should be just as much of a priority as repairing the physical damage caused by substance abuse.
Strengthen Social Ties
Strong social ties have been linked to improved mental health in several studies.
Your relationships with friends and family may be somewhat strained due to your actions while you were actively abusing drugs or alcohol, but reconnecting is often possible if you’re willing to be held accountable for your actions and work to rebuild the trust that has been lost. Those who care about your health and well-being will be happy to see that you are making a sincere effort to improve your life.
You may also wish to expand your social circle to better reflect your new priorities. The friends you make in residential treatment or in 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous can be a key part of your sober support network.
Find a New Hobby
When you’re no longer abusing drugs or alcohol, you’ll find that you suddenly have lots of free time to fill. Hobbies help alleviate boredom while giving you a chance to explore passions that had previously taken a backseat to your substance abuse.
If you’re not sure what interests you, think back to what activities you enjoyed as a child. Or, you can ask friends and family to tell you about their hobbies to see what sparks your curiosity. You may need to try several different activities along the way, but you’ll eventually find one that is a good fit with the sober life you’re building for yourself.
Regular exercise does more than just keep your body fit. Physical activity naturally lowers stress and anxiety while enhancing your mental well-being by releasing endorphins.
If you’ve previously lived a very sedentary lifestyle, keep in mind that you don’t suddenly need to become a world-class athlete to reap the benefits of physical activity. Even making a habit to go for a walk after dinner or ride bikes with your kids on the weekends will offer benefits. Slowly increase your activity level over time until you find a balance that works for you.
Spend Time Outdoors
Humans were not made to spend their lives indoors. Time in nature helps to lower stress and boost mood. Gardening, camping, hiking, or taking up nature photography are all ways to make spending time outdoors a part of your new sober lifestyle.
Scientists hypothesize one of the reasons spending time outdoors helps boost mental health is because it increases vitamin D levels. Since vitamin D is difficult to absorb from food, most of our intake comes from sun exposure. Deficiencies in vitamin D are commonly found in people suffering from depression and anxiety.
Nurture Your Sense of Humor
Laughing lowers the body’s levels of stress hormones, naturally boosts the immune system, and enhances your overall mood. Nurture your sense of humor by:
- Watching a funny movie or TV show
- Going to a live comedy show with friends
- Visiting your favorite humor blog
- Learning some kid-friendly jokes to tell a special child in your life
As you become more accustomed to adding laughter to your life, you’ll start to naturally look for the humor in everyday situations. This can help you protect your newfound sobriety by promoting a positive attitude in the face of adversity.
Get in Touch with Your Spiritual Side
Turning to your faith can be a tremendous source of comfort as you work towards a lasting recovery. Attending a faith-based self-help group such as Celebrate Recovery can help you adjust to life after residential treatment with confidence, as can becoming more involved with activities at your place of worship.
However, spirituality doesn’t necessarily need to involve organized religion. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can all be ways to explore your spiritual side on a more personal level.
Consider Getting a Pet
Pets help ease loneliness by providing a companion who offers unconditional love. Spending time with your pet can also help encourage you to stay physically active and spend more time outdoors, since many pets need regular exercise.
If your present circumstances won’t allow for a pet, volunteering at a local animal shelter can offer many of the same benefits. Another good option would be to offer to serve as a dog walker or pet sitter for a friend with a busy work schedule.
Find Work-Life Balance
Often, people who are in recovery decide that now is the perfect time to investigate a new career path. They may opt to leave a high-stress profession in favor of one that will allow more time to focus on their sobriety, go back to school to pursue training for a new career, or start their own business.
Taking the time to think about your professional goals and how your current employment situation is affecting your personal life can help you decide how to best proceed. There’s no one path that works for everyone, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you really want your sober life to look like.
Know When to Ask for Help
Our society may prize self-reliance, but it’s not realistic to expect to be able to solve all your problems on your own. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. Knowing when to rely on others shows self-awareness and a willingness to continue to grow.
If you’re struggling to manage your cravings, feeling as though stress could lead you to relapse, or worried that you’re not cut out for a sober lifestyle, Waypoint Recovery Center in South Carolina is here to help. We provide a full continuum of care for our clients, including alumni services designed to connect you to the recovery community while providing the ongoing support you need to be successful in maintaining your sobriety.