Avoiding relapse in recovery is all about staying healthy, actively engaged with treatment, recognizing when it’s time to step things up or change things up, and getting some help staying on track.
Sometimes it’s the little thing that can have the most impact. While making lots of little changes may not be feasible all at once, if you feel like you need a little help regaining focus, pick just one of the following to get started.
- Get some sleep.
Getting enough sleep can have a huge impact on your ability to function throughout the day and your ability to manage stress. When you don’t sleep enough or get good sleep, your frustration levels will automatically be higher, which will render you less able to handle difficulties when and if they arise. As a result, you may be more prone to turn to drugs or drinking if the opportunity presents itself. Try making sure that you not only get enough sleep each night but that you also get quality sleep by winding down before bed, going to bed at the same time each night, and getting up at the same time each morning.
- Eat your vegetables.
And fruits and whole grains and, while you’re at it, try to limit your intake of sugar, trans fats, and sodium. The healthier you eat – fresh foods and vegetables instead of processed foods, heavy on the produce and light on the pastries – the better your body will function and the more energy you will have. When you feel better physically and mentally, you are better prepared to avoid relapse.
- Hang out with your friends.
Sober friends can be a huge boost to your recovery, but spending time with people who are using can trigger a relapse. Don’t isolate even if you feel like you haven’t had time to build up any solid friendships in recovery. There are numerous people in the same boat as you are and also in need of sober companionship. Seek them out and connect.
- Take a walk.
Or a swim or a run. Try a new sport or one that you used to love. Whatever you do, make sure you do something active every day for at least 30 minutes to get your heart rate up. If you have any medical ailments, talk to your doctor about it first and take it slow. Walking and swimming are often recommended as good starting points for those who are just starting out.
- Try yoga.
Yogais unique in that is promotes physical wellness through stretching and strength poses, but it is also meditative. It focuses on the breath and clearing the mind. All these practices together add up to a reduction in overall stress levels. For those lucky enough to practice every day, the benefits can be physical as well as mental, which in turn can contribute to the ability to avoid relapse.
Seeing firsthand what it’s like to live in poverty, without a home, with a chronic illness, or without a family can be a jarring reminder of just how much you have to be grateful for in life. Give back to the community, and give yourself a constant reminder of how lucky you are and all that you have to be thankful for, getting the support you need to stay sober through supporting others.
- Learn something new.
Take a class and learn a new language. Watch YouTube videos and learn how to build cabinets, do your hair in new and interesting ways, start a nonprofit, or research your ancestry. Engaging in something mentally interesting that is interesting to you can give you something positive to focus on and a way to meet other people who have similar interests – and it may even turn into a new focal point for your life.
- Work with a life coach.
If you’re not sure which direction you should be headed or if you’re feeling bogged down and stagnant in your recovery, working with a life coach or a sober coach can help you to isolate the things that may be contributing to your malaise and help you re-energize. A life coach can often help you devise a new nutrition plan, a workout regimen, or a class schedule for a new career direction. A life coach can also connect you with people who can give you tools to hone in on what you need right now to move forward.
Changing up the scenery can help you to take a break from your routine and shift your perspective for a few days. You don’t have to travel across the globe – though if you can, why not? – to experience the benefits of taking a break. Bring a couple sober buddies and go camping for the weekend, or head to a nearby city to explore the sites. Pick a travel path that hits all the roller skating rinks, drive-in movie theaters, or historical sites within a 100-mile radius and hit the road. Taking a break can help you connect with your travel mates and get away from the grind. That time allows you to reconnect with fun, nature, or whatever interests you, rejuvenating your sobriety.
- Change up your recovery.
Going to meetings can get old. Support groups and talking to your therapist can start to feel routine. While it’s often recommended to hit the same meetings, build a rapport with others, and forge a strong bond with your therapist, sometimes you need to add a little pizzazz to your aftercare options. If you usually run at the gym, change it up and try a kickboxing class. If you take yoga classes, try tai chi. If you want to meet new people at the same time, ask your therapist for a referral to an outdoor adventure therapy group or art therapy group. Trying new things keeps you on your toes, awake in your recovery, and always learning. This can help you manage the urge to relapse.