Guest Blog by Michelle Peterson, RecoveryPride

Published: April 22nd, 2018

Healthy Habits to Maintaining Sobriety

Getting sober is one of the most difficult undertakings you can go through. Not only does it require tremendous honesty, but you also endure the anguish of detox and often emerge feeling remorse after the years you spent on drugs. Perhaps even more distressing, only about one-third of people who are abstinent for one year stay clean. (Meanwhile, if you can make it to five years, the chance that you’ll relapse drops to about 15 percent, according to certain studies.) As people in AA say, “One day at a time.” Here are some healthy habits you can incorporate to beat the odds and maintain your sobriety.

Regular Exercise
A steady exercise regimen is one of the best things you can do for your body, especially if you’re in recovery. Some of the benefits that exercise provides include calming inflammation, regulating blood sugar, rebuilding bone and muscle, and lowering risks for cancer and heart disease. Researchers have even found that staying active promotes the growth of fresh cells and wards off the likelihood of Alzheimer’s. But the full list of the upsides of exercise could go on for pages: treating depression, improving balance, helping prevent ulcers, preserving lean tissue, and, yes, combating substance abuse.

The Great Outdoors
The effect that getting outdoors has on you is similar to exercise. Hiking along leaved forest paths, you’re easing your anxiety, breathing pine air, and soaking up vitamin D. Additionally, being active also helps counteract seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which plagues people in the fall and winter. A study from Stanford University found that people who walk through nature for 90 minutes had significantly less stress than those who walked for the same time in a city. Plus, the activity in the part of their brain associated with depression was also reduced. Since many people who do drugs report symptoms of depression, getting outdoors seems like a natural remedy.

Starting Up a Hobby
A good strategy for maintaining sobriety is to take up a hobby that will help you phase out your addiction for an obsession that’s healthy. To start, make a list of the things you’ve been putting off while you were addicted to drugs. Hiking, writing, cooking, gardening, doing yoga, playing the guitar – whatever they are, rank your interests so that you have an idea of what you’d like to try most. The important thing is that you’re passionate about this hobby, so that you do it over and over, as a form of therapy that revitalizes you.

Support Network
The road to sobriety is difficult, but with the help of others, you can get through it. Creating a support network is imperative. Surround yourself with people who are sober, and who you can rely on to be honest with you when you’re veering away from your recovery goals. Avoid dating someone for at least a year, so that you can focus on your recovery and not someone else’s needs. Pick up the phone and make amends with people you cut off while you were on drugs. And be patient. Maintaining sobriety is a huge commitment, and you don’t want to jeopardize your progress by taking on too much.

The full list of strategies that people use to stay sober is endless. They include deciding on a quit date and being mindful of the pain that drugs caused. In the end, pick and choose which ones work for you to find your way onto the road to recovery and stay the course.

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