The 4 Healthy Living Habits I Learned in My Addiction Recovery

“You don’t get over an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use. If you don’t create a new life, then all the factors that brought you to your addiction will catch up with you again.” – Anonymous

The first thing we do when we make a mistake is wish that we could go back and time and change it. I have many moments when I think back, and two words that pop in my head are “should have.”

I should have spent more time outside playing with my friends instead of trying to grow up before my time. I should have stayed away from trying alcohol at nine years old. I should have listened to my friends and family when they tried to tell me I was going downhill. I should have sought help, instead of free falling into drug and alcohol addiction.

We can’t change the past, but we can definitely learn from our mistakes. I needed that slap in the face from reality to pull me out of my abyss. Getting sent to prison on drug related charges at the age of 23 was enough of a shock to set me on the right track. Once I got out two years later, I went straight to rehab and found the help I needed.

Rehab teaches you lots of things about yourself, and the potential reason why you might have gotten into drugs or alcohol to begin with. You learn how to reconnect with your family and friends, while adopting new habits for a better life.

When I got out of rehab, my sponsor told me that my primary goal should be to counteract the damage I did to my body by living healthier. I set out to educate myself on the benefits of exercise, mindfulness and diet improvements. I also took up a new hobby and got some much needed sleep. I’d like to share these tips with you and tell you how they impacted my life.

1. Get Regular Exercise

Exercise has so many benefits for the human body, that I don’t even know where to begin. Based on a study, the L.A. Times reported that 30 minutes of daily exercise gives you 45% less chance of dying from cancer. It also lowers your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 61%. Those are strong numbers to consider

Working out was one of the top recommendations for me to start doing once out of rehab. When I started losing weight, I felt better about myself. My mood throughout the day improved, and I was more relaxed. Stress became easy to manage. For those of you who don’t know, stress is one of the top reasons for relapse in recovering addicts.

2. Practice Mindfulness

I didn’t even know what mindfulness was before I went to rehab. When it was first mentioned to me, it made perfect sense. Essentially, you place your attention on the present moment and appreciate it as it passes you by. This can be an internal or external experience, depending on how you practice it. Many people incorporate it into their lives in the form of yoga.

So, I decided to do the same. What I learned was that yoga could become a replacement “high” which was natural, instead of seeking artificial highs from substances. The way I felt and the euphoria that flooded through my body when I meditated was comparable to the drugs I spent so much money on.

More so, I found myself in much better control of my negative emotions. Stress, anxiety, depression and anger became much more manageable after I did yoga for some time, and it felt good to leave those emotions behind.

3. Tweak Your Diet

In my opinion, the biggest reason why people don’t stick with their diets is that they go all in right from the beginning. They try to make radical changes too fast, and in the end temptation gets a hold of them. They make excuses to momentarily forget they’re on a diet, and before long they abandon it altogether.

The secret lies in making gradual changes which are small, instead of major ones. Start by drinking a glass of water twenty minutes before a meal. It will make you feel more full and you won’t eat as much. Add a handful of vegetables to your lunch and dinner. They fill you up with valuable nutrients which promote good health. These are small steps that can be easily incorporated and make all the difference.

4. Practice A New Hobby

Known as major stress relievers, hobbies worked wonders for me in my recovery. Learning and practicing something new brought me joy, in a time where joy was necessary to avoid relapse. I’ve always been a fan of sports, so I picked up basketball. The results were amazing.

I combined exercise with an outdoor activity, and I was able to build new relationships and make new friends. At the same time, I was strengthening my existing friendships with those who I had previously neglected in my life. It quickly became my favorite activity of the day.

When I left rehab, I had a blank slate. I had an opportunity to tackle life again and start from zero. Not many people get that kind of chance. Once I became more aware of the present moment, I realized how important it was to accept my past instead of fighting it off in my head. I was able to release my stress buildup through exercise. My diet has improved, and so has my body. Playing basketball with friends is something I look forward to every day. Step by step, piece by piece, I was able to put my life back together. Hopefully, these tips have convinced you to do the same!

What other healthy living tips have made a huge impact on your life? Let me know in the comments!