When travelling the path of addiction, recovery is the longest part of the journey. Recovery is an ongoing process of staying healthy and free from substance use for many of those battling through recovery. It’s an important aspect of sobriety to realize that whether or not you are actively sober or not, you are an addict. This is an important realization so that staying sober and focusing on recovery is always something to stay on track with and work towards. In order to stay focused on staying healthy in addiction recovery, there are some healthy activities to utilize in order to keep a healthy body and mind that stays focused on recovery.
Yoga is an exercise that focuses on strengthening the body but also strengthening the mind, which is an extremely important aspect of choosing an activity to help aid in addiction recovery. Yoga is an activity that is great for beginners because it focuses on balance and utilizing your own body weight and movement in order to gain muscle and increase heart rate. On the other hand, it’s also great for those that are already more physical because it is a great way to utilize muscles that are already formed in order to build them up and utilize them further. [Read: 4 Ways to Increase and Maintain Your Muscle Gains]
Of course there are a ton of activities you can do to focus on staying physically healthy; what yoga has that many others don’t is an emphasis on the mental side of relaxation and stress release as well. Yoga encourages meditation, clearing the mind, and focusing on performing each pose successfully. This activity’s ability to focus on keeping the mind healthy as well as the body makes it a popular choice among those in addiction recovery.
There’s nothing like reaching the top of the mountain you are climbing and taking in the view. Hiking is a great workout with a fantastic reward at the end. You have the ability to go at your own pace and a tangible destination to get to which can help with the motivation to keep going. Instead of walking on a treadmill at the gym staring at the clock on your machine, there is new and beautiful scenery all around. The terrain changes, the view changes, and the workout is done when you reach the top and then get back to the bottom, not when the machine says you reached your time or destination goal.
Mentally, hiking is a great activity for addiction recovery. You are doing something active which is great for the mind and you also have a ton of time to yourself. This activity, along with the beautiful scenery is great for introspection and self-reflection. The act of working so hard and reaching your goal at the summit is also a great task for the mind and the realization of being able to conquer something difficult. Having the confidence to complete difficult tasks is something incredibly important for those in recovery and making your way to the top is a great metaphor for the climb to sobriety.
Equine assisted therapy is a popular form of therapy in many rehabilitation settings because of the high response rate when using animals, and specifically horses, for addiction recovery. The benefits of working with horses are physical as well as mental with decreased blood pressure and reduced feelings of tension and anxiety. Horse therapy is used with addiction recovery as well as autism, PTSD, depression, among others. Working with horses is great for working with behavioral issues in patients, encouraging a trusting relationship with the horse, and emotionally connecting to an animal that relies on them.
In a setting outside of rehab for those in recovery, utilizing horseback riding as an activity is still extremely useful. It can help those in recovery cope with a number of different issues that can stem from drug use and recovery. It can help with feelings of mistrust since the rider must have a level of trust with the horse, it can help with feelings of guilt and worth when the horse trusts the rider, and feelings of loneliness by connecting to an animal that is so sensitive to emotions.
Utilizing cooking as an activity isn’t quite as physical or strenuous as some of the other options, but it can immensely aid in addiction recovery. Working on cooking meals, meal prep, and planning out a weekly menu will help to be mindful of the types of food you are putting in your body. For some people in addiction recovery, cooking meals can be a new experience when addiction can cause a loss in appetite or a disinterest in the idea of cooking altogether.
Being aware of what certain foods can do for our body and minds promotes an awareness of healthy choices and an interest in utilizing healthy substances instead of harmful ones. Being interested and concerned about maintaining a healthy diet crosses over into understanding the negative health effects of drug use. Chances are if you’re concerned about the negative health effects of eating food with too many preservatives, you are also concerned with the makeup and negative effects that drugs have on our bodies as well. Finding activities that go hand in hand with healthy eating like growing your own herbs or produce or taking cooking classes are welcomed additions to cooking that will further the understanding of healthy food and the importance of keeping your body healthy.
Marathon running is not a casual hobby; it involves a lot of preparation and personal sacrifice. Similar to utilizing cooking as an activity to help aid in addiction recovery, running marathons will have a similar effect on the way you think about your body and what goes into it. Running a lot, preparing for marathons, and seeing how much your body can change and what you can will it to do is a great realization for recovering addicts that may have never cared about the ability that their body has since addiction causes many physical issues.
Whether or not addiction is linked more to biology or our surroundings, it’s definitely true that it’s a lot safer in recovery to spend time away from an environment that promotes substance use. Keeping yourself in a mindset and environment that promotes healthy activities is the best bet for maintaining recovery from addiction. Running a marathon promotes healthy choices, fitness accountability, and the pleasure of completing a goal that you’ve trained hard to complete. Succeeding in completing a marathon is similar to the mental positivity that you get from reaching the top of a mountain that you are hiking and many addicts find it extremely helpful to watch themselves succeed in these feats while maintaining their own feat of recovery; it inspires confidence.
It’s a long road to travel, but an extremely important one for addicts everywhere. Recovery is ongoing, but there are ways to help make the road a little smoother. A focus on healthy activities is a great tool to utilize in order to keep your body and mind on the right track to maintain sobriety and recovery. Whether it’s yoga, hiking, horseback riding, cooking, or running marathons, or any other healthy activity, it’s just one more tool in making the journey easier for recovery.
Ranard Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She is passionate about addiction recovery advocacy, talk radio, and iced coffee. Follow her on Twitter!