FIVE REASONS TO STAY IN SHAPE DURING RECOVERY
- It is fulfilling. For those in recovery, it is often a struggle to find something rewarding that can fill the hole left by giving up drugs and alcohol. Walking away from an addiction means freeing up a lot of time in your life, and for many this can be one of the most difficult parts of early sobriety. By introducing some sort of physical activity into your life, you are replacing an unhealthy habit with a healthy one. Though getting out and moving your body may not come naturally in early sobriety, more often than not you’ll be glad you did it. It feels good to fill time with an activity that benefits you physically and mentally rather than one that is harmful.
- It boosts your serotonin levels. Many people who struggle with addiction also struggle with depression. For them, using drugs or alcohol may have been a coping mechanism. In sobriety it can be difficult to figure out how to confront depression when you can’t use a substance to self-medicate. Though working out is not a cure for depression, it has been shown to increase the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that is responsible for regulating mood, among other things. If the level is too low, the result can be depression. So, when the amount of serotonin is increased, mood will also be elevated. If you are having a difficult day and feeling depressed, try going for a simple walk or a run and pay attention to how you feel afterwards. Chances are you’ll feel at least a little more centered and hopeful.
- It is often a great outlet.It’s no secret that sobriety isn’t easy. There are many emotions involved in getting sober, and drinking to cope with those emotions is no longer an option. Instead, you have to find a new outlet, a healthy one. For some this may be listening to music, or writing, or reading. The list goes on. But exercise can also be great because it allows you to push your body to its limits and take out your frustration or confusion in a healthy manner that benefits you. There is something so refreshing about being able to walk into the gym after a difficult day and just focus on moving your body and overcoming your mental barriers. It often puts the rest of your life in perspective.
- It can help you gain back your confidence. When you get sober, there can be a lot of shame and guilt present in your life. You may also feel down on yourself if you’ve let yourself go physically while in active addiction. I know these were both the case for me. And while getting sober can do wonders for your confidence on its own, adding physical activity to your daily routine brings that to a whole other level. There is so much satisfaction and reward in seeing your body change in a positive way because of the work you’ve put in. Channeling your energy into something positive and seeing changes as a result increases confidence in yourself and your abilities, in terms of physical activity and in recovery.
- It opens the doors to create connections.In recovery, especially early recovery, it’s not unusual to feel lonely. Often when you make a big lifestyle change, such as sobriety, the people you spend your time with shifts. This may mean that you are left with fewer people in your life because you no longer hang out with the people you did when you drank. It’s not always easy to meet new people and connect right away, but joining a workout program gives you common ground immediately. There is something about going through a difficult workout with a group of people that bonds you to one another right away. Even if your lives are different outside the gym, being physically active together gives you the foundation on which to build a solid relationship.