What Individuals in Recovery Need to Know About Wellness
When you think of the word wellness, you might simply think of it as the state of not being sick. However, the term wellness means so much more than that – it’s about taking care of yourself in sickness and in health to achieve and maintain the highest quality of life. From loving yourself and letting yourself feel your emotions to making sure you exercise and stay organized, there are many dimensions of wellness that can help you live your best life.
As someone who has experienced addiction and recovery myself, I know that when you’re navigating the bumpy road of addiction recovery, wellness is even more important.
The Many Dimensions of Wellness
Most of us know that eating healthy and working out can keep us well. Yet pursuing wellness goes beyond following the rules of a healthy lifestyle. It’s about being kind to yourself and patient as you work on growing and taking care of many dimensions of your life, from your professional life to how you communicate your emotions to those you love. All of these components are small pieces that make up the bigger, beautiful picture of personal wellness.
Emotions can often feel like an ocean – sometimes still, calm, and under control, and other times choppy and full of crashing waves. Wellness teaches us to be better swimmers! One of the toughest parts of life is getting more in touch with how we feel and navigating how to communicate this to those around us. Working on emotional wellness entails building up resilience and equilibrium, so you have more direct control over how you express your feelings. Although this is tough, it’s vital to have healthy relationships of all sorts and to maintain a positive, stress-free outlook.
Stress about money can weigh you down. No matter how much you make or what your financial history is, it’s never too late for you to start managing your financial resources. For example, you can use free online tools to create a budget, manage any debt you might have, and closely track your spending. If you work to achieve financial wellness, you are carving a path to a stable future for yourself and those you love.
Maintaining social relationships on top of everything else in life can be understandably draining, especially in recovery. Maybe you’ve had a falling out with friends or family fueled by your addiction or are struggling to meet people where you live. It can be easy to just want to retreat to being by yourself, but having a social support system can make recovery easier and full of much more joy. Seek out social opportunities and reach out to old ones to enhance communication, and you might just see your life brighten up. For example, a great way to make new friends is to find groups or free meet-ups for your hobbies.
You might think that spiritual wellness has to do with religion, and you’re not alone. Being spiritual is often confused with actively practicing a religion, but that’s not always the case. Your spirituality has more to do with your personal philosophy and your personal beliefs. Working on taking action that matches up with these beliefs can give you a sense of peace and stability in this chaotic world. For example, even if you just do a few minutes of meditation a day, you can start reflecting on your personal philosophy.
There’s no denying we live in a work-driven society. You might feel a lot of pressure to succeed at work, but you need to prioritize having a work-life balance to avoid burning out. Pursuing occupational wellness can also involve working toward a career suited to your needs and interests. For example, a remote job might help you spend more time with your kids, or an in-person job might help you make the social connections you need. Taking such needs into consideration when job hunting can help promote wellness.
Occupational wellness is also about doing work that you truly care about. Working toward a career you love or volunteering in a role you enjoy can help you feel fulfilled and connected to others with similar passions. To stay motivated in your career, it can help to have interests and activities you look forward to outside of work. That way, your work is just one aspect of your life you feel good about. For example, if you find yourself dreading waking up to go to work on Mondays, consider planning a weekly dinner with friends on Monday evenings or signing up for a class you’re interested in. This can help you focus less on what you’re not looking forward to and fill your life with things you’re excited about.
You can’t achieve any of the dimensions of wellness unless you are physically healthy enough to do so. Of course, life gets busy, and it can be easy to slip into not taking care of all parts of your body with things like adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and sufficient exercise. However, you’d be amazed at how much energy and motivation you have for all the other parts of your life when you are taking care of your body. Putting your physical health first lets you show up better for the people you love and sets you on a track for a long, eventful future. Starting your physical wellness journey might look like following an exercise plan or adding fruit to your diet, but it can also be as simple as setting a reminder on your phone to drink enough water today.
Your brain, like the rest of your body, needs exercise to stay healthy. Engaging in stimulating intellectual activities and learning new skills helps your brain continue to grow no matter how old you are. For example, playing word games with friends or practicing a new language are both small steps you can take to promote your intellectual wellness. Without even realizing it, you will be getting smarter and feel more fulfilled.
We can’t live a healthy life if our environment isn’t healthy too. When you contribute to protecting the planet, even in the smallest of ways, you create a cleaner, healthier world for yourself and those around you. Actions like recycling, composting, or growing a garden can help you get more in touch with your environment and help make it healthier. Protecting the environment is also an important part of contributing to your community, which can boost self-esteem and foster healthy social connections.
Another aspect of environmental wellness is as simple as curating a healthy environment in which to live every day. When your home is clean, tidy, and free from hazards, you can achieve wellness in other areas of life, as well. Similarly, ensuring your home is free from substances and unhealthy distractions can help you ensure you remain in recovery.
The Importance of Wellness
When you’re actively engaging in the productive, healthy choices that constitute wellness, you’re putting yourself on the path toward a more fruitful life in recovery. Seeking wellness can lead to professional success and personal fulfillment. It can also help you establish strong relationships that bring you joy and support as you begin your new life without substances.
Wellness is crucial for a well-rounded life and can help with the following:
- Reducing your stress
- Managing your anxiety
- Meeting new people
- Alleviating your physical pain
- Helping you maintain a healthy weight
- Making your life longer and healthier
- Resolving your social or familial conflicts
- Supporting you in adapting to change and life transitions
- Creating strong, fulfilling social connections
- Discovering new hobbies you love
- Improving your sleep quality and routines
- Fostering resilience in the face of challenges
- Minimizing your risk of cognitive decline
- Boosting your energy and motivation levels
- Maintaining an optimistic outlook on your future
Wellness and Addiction Recovery
Everyone can benefit from pursuing wellness, but if you’re recovering from substance use disorder (SUD), maintaining wellness is even more vital. SUD can take an intense toll on your physical and emotional health, as well as your social life and financial stability.
You might be overwhelmed addressing these things at first, but it will be okay. Seeking support and taking small steps in your wellness journey will help you in this tough period.
If you take part in wellness activities, you will work toward regulating emotions, managing stress, and repairing and creating strong social relationships. If you’re recovering from SUD, these actions are crucial for staying on a healthy physical and emotional path. For example, many wellness activities like meditation or taking an exercise class will require you to establish a clear daily routine and show up weekly for the same activity. Creating structure in your life is critical as you work to stay focused on recovery and all of the exciting aspects of life that lie ahead of you.
What Are Examples of Recovery Wellness Activities?
There’s no shortage of recovery wellness activities that you can start today. For example, you could take a tai chi class, which can help you improve your balance, lower your anxiety, and give you mental clarity. Other powerful recovery wellness activities include:
- Meditation – Practicing mindfulness through quiet moments of meditation can have an incredible impact on regulating your emotions, managing stress, and processing difficult memories.
- Art – Expressing yourself through artistic activities like watercolor painting, sketching, or sewing can be therapeutic and help you learn more about yourself.
- Journaling – Writing (or typing) about your day-to-day life and emotions can help you sort through complex emotions and may even help you realize aspects of your personal philosophy or emotional challenges you’re facing that you hadn’t realized.
- Getting outside – As simple as it may sound, getting in touch with nature can have healing effects. Whether you go on a long solo hike or have a picnic in a park with friends, shutting off technology and breathing in some fresh air can help reduce anxiety and foster personal reflection.
- Exercise – Physical activity is beneficial, particularly if you’re recovering from SUD. It can improve your sleep, lower your stress levels, and improve your self-esteem and outlook. Even just 30 quick minutes of exercise can boost your confidence if you’re feeling down!
- Acupuncture – There’s a reason people back in Ancient China loved acupuncture – as the needles prick your skin, they help you relax and reduce your pain. This can work wonders as you navigate the emotional and physical hardships involved in SUD recovery.
- Cooking – What you put in your body has a tremendous impact on your physical and, often, emotional health. Taking the time to learn how to cook and create nutritious meals to enjoy and share can be an incredibly enjoyable experience.
- Yoga – All kinds of exercise can be beneficial in recovery, but activities that focus on relaxation and breathing are some of the best. For example, holding tough yoga poses requires you to stay entirely in the moment and think about your breathing, which will help you practice mindfulness and make you more flexible.
- Reading – In today’s world, it’s harder than you may think to shut off your devices and simply focus on a book; doing this is so worth it, however, as it stimulates intellectual wellness and helps you dive into a creative escape from reality. Joining a book club or a reading group is also a great way to share in the joys of reading with others and meet new friends.
- Music and dance – Regardless of the genre, music provides relaxing, enjoyable moments in your day, as well as evoking powerful emotions, and helping you process and untangle some tough feelings. Getting in touch with music through going to concerts, music lessons, and moving your body by dancing to music can help maintain wellness and SUD recovery.
Maintaining Wellness in Recovery
Recovery can feel like an uphill battle at times, and you need to go easy on yourself. Healing isn’t linear, and wellness can be understandably tough to maintain. However, one or more of the above activities can help you maintain wellness, even if times get tough.
In tandem with doing some of the above activities regularly, you should make sure you have a support system. Having trustworthy individuals who respect and understand what you’re going through is crucial to maintaining wellness the best you can. One way you can create a strong support system is by going to a support group near you. There, you’ll find people going through a similar experience and people who have been navigating this winding road for a while.
You Can Achieve Wellness
No matter where you are in your recovery journey, wellness is possible. Approaches like our personalized addiction recovery treatment planning can help guide you through recovery and in achieving all the dimensions of wellness. Don’t forget – you are not alone. We’ll achieve this together.