If you’ve already gotten sober or tried to quit drugs or alcohol, you might scoff at the idea that a few lifestyle changes here and there could help you stay clean. After all, addiction is a serious disease, and kicking the habit may be the most difficult thing you ever do. Lifestyle remedies won’t cure you of your addiction on their own, but they can supplement the skills you learn in treatment while boosting your chances of staying sober for life.
Protect Your Health
Poor health can cause you to relapse, and protecting your body prepares it to overcome the challenges of drug or alcohol abuse. Consider the following steps:
- Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and work to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week; research suggest regular exercise can prevent depression and anxiety, two common side effects of drug withdrawal.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Excessive sugary snacks can lead to a mood crash that tempts you to use again.
- Get an annual physical, and be sure to tell your doctor about your history with addiction.
- Take all prescriptions your doctor recommends, but if any are potentially addictive, talk about these drugs with your doctor first.
Nurture Your Emotional Life
Painful emotions, a history of trauma, and daily stress can all tempt you to return to your addiction. By maintaining a balanced emotional life, you reduce your risk. Try these tips:
- Meditate each day; research suggests meditation can reduce stress, improve health, and even help you remain sober.
- Work to eliminate your automatic negative thoughts. Many addicts engage in self-defeating talk – “I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never succeed,” etc. Replace these thoughts with more positive ones, and you’ll find yourself feeling more hopeful about the future.
- Take an hour each day to do something you love.
- Maintain a regular daily schedule. Routine can protect you against the temptation to give back into your addiction.
- Congratulate yourself on your successes. Celebrate your sobriety at the six-month and one-year mark, and don’t be afraid to accept the congratulations of the people who love you most.
Deepen Your Relationships
Your loved ones are a powerful antidote to the pain of addiction. By nurturing healthy relationships, you give yourself a strong incentive never to return to the isolation of life as an addict. Try these suggestions:
- Consider family or couples therapy if your addiction has left your relationships in disarray.
- Take time each day to talk to someone you love.
- Work to cultivate mindfulness when spending time with loved ones. The stress of everyday life can tempt you to pick up your cell phone and find other distractions. By being fully present, though, you get the most out of these moments. You also help yourself re-learn how to pay attention without drugs or alcohol.
- Schedule a weekly date night with your spouse or partner.
- Make amends to the people you’ve hurt, but don’t expect them to forgive you right away. Sometimes healing takes time, and part of the healing process is recognizing that some people may not be ready to forgive on your timetable.