August is national wellness month. This year’s celebration will emphasize the importance of self-care.
Self-care and wellness can take many forms and mean different things to many people. From having a scheduled skincare routine to working out on a constant basis, self-care works to preserve or improve one’s own health both physically and mentally.
In our case, we are going to be talking about wellness in addiction recovery.
We understand that no two people go through substance abuse the same way. There are a lot of circumstances and situations that caused their addiction. Their addiction might also have put them in different experiences in life.
One thing is for sure, finding a routine that works for you is important during recovery and as you leave a recovery center. Especially as you transition back to life.
A holistic approach in recovery is flexible, manageable, and works around your schedule. You can do many holistic practices discreetly anywhere. Some of them can even be done with just a few moments of privacy.
Read on to find out about all the holistic techniques you can apply to your recovery. This wellness month, put you and your health first.
If you’re wondering how to get sober, and you’ve tried traditional methods, holistic therapy may be for you.
Holistic therapy is different from other forms of therapy. It considers all aspects of the person during the therapeutic process. This includes mind, body, spirit, and emotions.
This practice believes that a person is made up of all their interdependent parts. Therefore, if one part is out of sync all the other parts will also be affected. If one part is out of balance then their health will also be out of balance.
A holistic doctor also considers forms of treatment beyond that of just traditional medications. While they may utilize medications or prescriptions, they also take a look at outside factors that may be affecting someone.
This can include things like sleep behavior, personal problem, stress factors, habits, diet, and lifestyle choices. So a holistic doctor may suggest or prescribe that you modify any of those outside factors as part of your treatment.
Holistic treatment believes that the most powerful and effective healing for someone is unconditional love and support. Also that the person is ultimately responsible for their health and well-being.
Twelve-step programs have long been a standard treatment to help patients fight addiction. A holistic approach to addiction may help the patient consider areas and approaches that other programs miss or don’t consider.
Addiction is a disease that affects the mind, body, and soul. Addiction has the ability to disrupt and create a disassociation between these parts of the self. That’s why holistic medicine or therapy may be the treatment you’ve been looking for.
Holistic therapy takes into consideration all these parts and their interconnectedness.
That’s why this form of therapy may be more effective for some than the 12 step programs.
Holistic therapies focus on that mind-body-spirit connection that is often ravaged by addiction.
Forty-five percent of Americans suffer from a mental health disorder and substance abuse, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. People who are diagnosed with both of these are categorized as having a dual diagnosis.
Patients with a dual diagnosis are more likely to treat their own mental health disorder with self-medication. This self-medication can sometimes come in the form of using alcohol or drugs to alleviate the symptoms of the mental health disorder.
This can then lead to an unhealthy cycle of addiction, which then also makes the mental health symptoms worse. On top of that, there is so much stigma surrounding mental health and seeking treatment for it.
Holistic medicine can help. This form of treatment addresses mental and physical abuse disorders at the same time.
There is a wide variety of holistic approaches to try, so where one may not suit you, another might be helpful.
A holistic approach is also useful when you consider that recovery is a lifelong commitment. Most of these practices you can do on your own time, wherever you choose, so you can utilize them whenever you need them.
Best of all, most come at a low cost or are free. Some can even be done with a trusted partner or friend.
Some of these practices can include mindfulness, yoga, breathwork, meditation, a sound bath, exercise, acupuncture, behavioral therapy, dance movement therapy, starting a diet, and massage therapy.
It can be easy to get lost in the daily routines of planning, organizing, problem-solving, and taking part in negative or draining thoughts. All of these can trigger feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety.
Practicing being present and in the moment is the practice of mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness helps you remain in the present moment while simultaneously being aware of your surroundings and inner reality, without judgment.
Mindfulness can help you modify your brain’s old ways of thinking in a way that promotes your well-being and rebuilding connections.
Mindfulness can also be considered a form of meditation. It can involve breathing techniques, guided imagery, and other techniques to help your mind and body relax.
There are simple ways to practice mindfulness that you can do throughout the day, no matter where you are.
Choosing to simply pay attention is one way to try this. Remind yourself to slow down, take in your surroundings, and notice the small things that we often overlook. Take in the colors of the trees outside, the sound of birds overhead, the flavor of your food. Be here, now.
You can also practice being kind and forgiving of yourself. Be as gentle and accepting with yourself as you would be with a friend or loved one. You’d be understanding with a loved one and you deserve that same level of understanding.
Another mindfulness technique to consider is “riding the wave.” That means acknowledging when you’re having a craving while also knowing that feeling this craving does not mean you have to give in to it.
It is just as important to recognize when you’re able to “ride the wave” alone, and when you need to reach out for help to get through that craving.
Yoga has long been a holistic approach to a healthy body, mind, and spirit. Yoga is such an old practice that its origins can be traced as far back as 5,000 years ago in India.
Yoga focuses on flexibility, posture, breathing, and strength to help boost your mental and physical wellbeing.
Yoga is known to reduce stress and have a calming effect on those who practice it. When it comes to addiction, it has the potential to provide relief. It can teach you the tools to manage your stress responses and see your experience with a greater sense of calm.
Whether you choose to do it alone, with a friend, or with a group, yoga can help you center yourself and get in touch with what matters to you, like your health and wellbeing.
There are groups that practice yoga specifically for the purpose of recovery if you don’t want to try it alone. Or you can grab a trusted friend or partner if you feel you need some support but don’t want to try yoga in front of a whole group of people.
However you choose to go about it, yoga is a safe, calm tool to help you through your journey to wellness and recovery.
Taking part in breathwork will teach you to experience and learn the art and benefits of controlled, conscious breathing. You can combine breathwork with yoga as well for maximum stress-relieving benefits.
Breathwork can help you on your road to recovery from addiction in that it can help you become more aware of your mind-body connection. It can also help you reach a heightened and healthier level of self-awareness.
It can help you calm your mind. It can lower anxiety levels, bring emotional empowerment, and facilitate harmony between the body and mind.
So what is breathwork exactly? It’s the practice of rhythmic breathing to manipulate your breathing rate and move energy through the body.
The feeling you get from breathwork may feel like a variety of things. This includes tingling sensations through the body, alertness, and increased mind-body connection. Also a sense of clarity or an emotional purging of sorts.
There are different types of breathing techniques, but here are some simple ones.
Box breathing is a technique that involves envisioning a square. Focus on the square, then breathe in deeply for four seconds. Hold your breath for four seconds, then slowly exhale for another four seconds. Hold your breath for another four before you start again.
First, plug your right nostril with your right hand. Take a deep breath through your left nostril, then plug your left nostril with another finger from your right hand. Now, unplug your right nostril and exhale through that one. Repeat this again, starting with the right side.
Diaphragmatic breathing can help you reach deeper, expansive breathing.
Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent with one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale from your diaphragm, which is between your chest and abdomen. Hold your breath, then exhale.
Meditation is one of the most popular wellness techniques. So much so that people of all religions, beliefs, and from all walks of life partake in it.
This is because the practice of meditation seeks to harmonize and bring together the mind and spirit for an improved quality of life.
There are many types of meditation you can engage in.
Zen meditation can provide insight into how the mind works. This mediation involves observing and letting go of thoughts or insights that arise as you practice it. Zen meditation, in particular, focuses on deep-rooted issues.
To practice this, sit upright in a comfortable position and focus on your breath and the way it moves in and out of your body. Allow yourself to just be, just exist. Practicing this allows you to observe what thoughts come and simply let them be.
Transcendental meditation is another method of meditation that can help your mind-body connection. This type of meditation aims to help you transcend beyond the surface level of your awareness. It helps you avoid distracting thoughts and promoted relaxed awareness.
During this kind of meditation, it is the goal for the practicer to go beyond ordinary thinking and replace this with a state of pure consciousness. By doing this it is thought that you can achieve stillness, stability, rest, and an absence of mental boundaries.
Unlike other forms of meditation, transcendental meditation is best when practiced with instruction from a teacher or instructor.
Partaking in these various forms of meditation can help improve your mood, increase emotional stability, reduce depression and anxiety, decrease your insomnia, reduce the risk of relapse, and reduce post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
Sound baths are a form of sound therapy. Sound therapy is a range of therapies using musical or sound-based techniques to treat mental and physical conditions. It applies harmonic vibrations and sound waves made through instruments or the human voice.
Sound baths are designed to draw people into a deep meditative state through instruments that create vibrational healing sounds.
The bath uses sounds to clear discordance from the participant’s energy fields that result in a higher sense of harmony.
Participating in these can help reduce physical and emotional stress, bring a sense of balance and calm, promote self-esteem, and heighten your sense of connection.
During a sound bath, you can lay on your back while the sound bath practitioner facilitates the sound to “bathe” you in. During this time, you can also choose to participate in chants or mantras. A sound bath can last anywhere between 15 to 60 minutes.
You may seek to create your own sound bath at home, but it may just be easier to try this technique with the help of a guide or teacher.
Exercise has long been known to help with everything from weight loss to clearing your mind to help alleviate ailments of all kinds.
Stress can sometimes lead to relapse if it isn’t addressed or properly handled. Exercise is proven to help maintain lower stress levels. Exercising also releases endorphins, those feel-good, mood-enhancing chemicals that your body releases.
Even just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help improve your mood for the rest of the day. An improved mood can make steering through recovery that much easier.
Because regular exercise can improve and stabilize your mood and manage anxiety and depression, it can help in your recovery. Regular movement, or a routine of movement, can help prevent you from returning to an addiction habit or relapsing.
Exercising also releases dopamine, another neurotransmitter that is important during exercise.
The brain uses dopamine for many types of functions, but when the dopamine neurotransmitter is released in the reward pathway, which is also known as the mesolimbic pathway, it facilitates the prediction and anticipation of rewards.
The reason people feel very strongly compelled to take another shot of alcohol or drug after taking one shot is that they already enjoyed the initial rush, which primes their brain to crave even more.
Drunkenness or drug abuse doesn’t always lead to an increase in dopamine. You can get it from eating cookies, engaging in sexual activity, listening to music, or thousands of other healthy and innocent sources.
All forms of addiction cause damaging changes to the mesolimbic pathway in the brain. Any substance abused excessively will warp the reward pathways to the point where innocent sources of reward or pleasure no longer trigger the same chemical reactions in the brain.
Acupuncture is an ancient practice that originated in China and has been around since 2500 BC. You may have seen this practice in movies or on TV already, but what isn’t often shown are the healing qualities it has.
Acupuncture involves sticking thin needles into the body at specific points to bring physical and mental relief. Auricular acupuncture, or ear acupuncture, is a popular practice to help treat addiction. This type of acupuncture targets five different points on the ear.
This type of practice can help in addiction recovery by reducing cravings, increasing sleep, and reducing physical pain. It also reduces stress and anxiety, helps to regulate emotions, eases withdrawal symptoms, and can help patient retention in rehab programs.
Sometimes, talking with someone is the difference between returning to old habits and feeling stable and more secure.
During recovery, this will help you find connections between your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Being aware of how these connections will also help increase awareness of how they may impact your recovery. This kind of therapy may shed light on how feelings and behaviors that come from harmful choices may come from past experiences or an old environment.
It can also help you identify your “automatic thoughts.” These thoughts are impulsive and may come from buried feelings of fear or self-doubt.
During this type of therapy, recoverees can learn how to reduce pain caused by their past by revisiting the painful memories. You can then learn how to utilize positive behaviors and responses to replace old addiction habits.
Instead of returning to addictive habits that were once used to self-medicate, you will learn how to turn to constructive methods of coping.
This form of therapy can also help in strengthening communication, getting comfortable with vulnerability, and teaching self-help tools that will be useful in recovery.
The skills learned during behavioral therapy can remain helpful even after the therapy has come to an end.
This is because it’s designed to help develop strategies to cope with cravings and harmful behaviors. It’s also meant to help identify and avoid high-risk situations. Learning processes play an important role in this kind of therapy.
Similar to exercise, dance movement therapy uses physical movement and endorphins to help uplift your mood.
Dance movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote cognitive, emotional, social, and physical assimilation of an individual. It is a form of expression that considers the correlation between movement and emotion.
Practicing this form of therapy could include most forms of dance, like ballet or ballroom. For recovery-specific purposes, it may be more beneficial to seek a dance session with a therapeutic focus.
In movement therapy, movements are interpreted by the guide or teacher to recognize conscious and unconscious feelings. They can assess body language to develop intervention techniques and address specific needs.
Massage therapy can increase dopamine and serotonin in the body, which can help in recovery. A massage will increase relaxation by stimulating pressure receptors and the vagus nerve.
Stimulating this nerve can decrease your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and decrease stress hormones. The results afterward can include improved sleep quality and feeling less anxious.
The less anxious and stressed you are, the better your recovery.
Food is such an important part of anyone’s day. What you put in your body, and how often you do it, can affect your health, mood, and overall wellness. Maintaining a healthy diet helps promote a healthy lifestyle for addiction recovery.
Addiction can lead to unhealthy habits like skipping meals, eating unhealthy foods, and even overeating at times.
Having a balanced diet will help your body heal from the inside out and you will feel a difference. A balanced diet can improve your mood, increase your energy, improve your memory, and reduce the risk of sickness and disease.
Celebrate National Wellness Month this August by choosing to invest in your recovery. After all, you’re worth it.
Practicing wellness in addiction recovery is crucial for your journey to health and wellbeing. It’s time to consider holistic therapy techniques as part of your recovery practice.
Contact No Matter What Recovery today to find out more about how their holistic therapies can help you.
Explore The Ancient Roots of Yoga – Google Arts & Culture. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://artsandculture.google.com/story/explore-the-ancient-roots-of-yoga/rAKCRDl92CPuJ