Taking care of your mental health is an important part of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. It is one of the most important items in bringing about long-term sobriety and living a full and happy life during the process. But it should not be confined to one solitary day.
Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Mental Health Status
Reasons you should be attentive to your mental health during recovery are:
- Helps prevent addiction relapse—It seems obvious, but this is the primary reason to take care of your mental health. The connection between mental health-substance use is irrefutable.
- Nurtures the relationships you repaired during your substance use disorder treatment.
- Reduces anxiety.
- Increases self-esteem.
- Reduces the risk of depression.
- Improves your overall mood.
The Absence of Mental Illness Does Not Equate to Good Mental Health
The lack of mental illness does not necessarily mean that you have good mental health. In this case, mental health refers to the condition of your emotional, psychological, and social frame of mind. It includes the thoughts, feelings, moods, and behaviors that influence your choices and the way you handle stress and relationships with other people.
3 Simple Tips for How You Can Work on Your Mental Health
Recovery from substance use disorders is a process of change by which people:
- Improve their health and wellness
- Live a self-directed life
- Aim to reach their full potential
To meet these goals, you must take care of yourself. When you have an active substance use disorder, the last thing you care about is your physical and mental well-being. In recovery, it is the first thing.
Taking care of your mental health is a lot more complicated than taking care of your physical health, like washing your hands or taking a vitamin. Here are some suggestions for taking care of your mental health when you’re in recovery:
Keep a Healthy Lifestyle
Maintain a healthy and nutritious diet. Get regular cardiovascular exercise, and try to sleep seven to eight hours each night.
Common sense advice can be difficult to practice while you are coping with the daily stressors of life. Results of research from addiction science have shown the connection to the advice and also revealed the remarkable extent that sleep, diet, and exercise have on mental health.
Harvard research has shown that lifestyle changes that make for better sleep can improve mental health considerably.
Deficiencies of certain nutrients like vitamin B1 can have a negative effect on mood and energy levels, which are basic indicators of mental health or lack of it.
The many mental health benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise have now been shown to be true in several studies. The American Psychological Association has encouraged incorporating exercise in corrective interventions.
Take Medications as Prescribed and Get Regular Checkups
Any co-occurring medical condition, whether it’s an injury or a chronic condition like diabetes or bipolar disorder, can trigger a relapse that can impede or interfere with your recovery.
The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 30% of Americans age 18 to 25 who had a substance use disorder in the previous year also had a co-occurring disorder such as anxiety or depression. One of the best ways to protect your recovery and mental health is to stick to your doctor-prescribed medication plan and get regular checkups.
Build Healthy Relationships
Arrange positive and meaningful connections with family, friends, and others in recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s definition of recovery, there are three other components to recovery: home, purpose, and community. Much of what qualifies as good mental health includes relationships. So, be sure to make it a priority!
Benefits of Improving Your Mental Health
The hippocampus is a part of the brain that is involved in forming new memories and is also associated with learning and emotions. It plays a critical role in the organization and storage of new memories as well as connecting certain sensations and emotions to these memories.
Stress also leads to a decrease in the ability to concentrate, confusion, loss of sense of humor, anger irritability, and fear. Improving your mental health can help reduce the risk. Other benefits include:
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves moods
- Sense of calm and inner peace
- Clearer thinking
- Reduced risk of depression
- Improved relationships
A Few Words About Exercise
Improved mental health has been well documented, along with the improved levels of physical fitness. Decades of research results show the benefits of intentionally taking special care of your body.
Recently, the approach to physical and mental well-being has been prevention. Exercise is a preventative activity for both physical and mental health. When you make your body stronger, there is less pain in aging. The same is true for strengthening your mental health.
Research shows that people who have depressive disorders or anxiety disorders benefit immensely from increased exercise activities. 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week is recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to reduce the risk of premature death. Not surprisingly, most of the population fails to meet these guidelines to improve overall well being.
Some benefits physical fitness on mental health include:
- Better sleep
- Sharper memory
- Clearer thinking
- Higher self-esteem
- Increased energy
- Greater resilience
- Improvement in neurotransmission (improvement in the ability of chemical messengers to send information between nerves in the brain).
The Benefits of Continuing Counseling
For a long time, counseling has had a stigma attached. The medical model was developed to fix what was “broken.” If you are in counseling, you are not broken. People are adaptable and can rewire themselves. Professional counselors can help with this resilience by allowing the release of painful or unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.
- Greater self-acceptance
- Increased self-esteem
- Improving interpersonal and communication skills
- Improved management of emotions and self-expression
- Relief of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions
- Clarity in thinking
Farming for Mental Health and Recovery
Although farming and agricultural activities may not be an alternative to rehab, sometimes rehab facilities integrate farming in their treatment programs. Some even have on-property farms. Other facilities encourage people to take care of animals such as horses or dogs as part of their treatment.
There is a belief that farming can bring about spirituality and provide help with addiction recovery by shifting your focus. Instead of focusing on your problems and addictions, you concentrate on your tasks such as working the soil or taking care of animals.
Seeing something through to the end can increase a sense of purpose, which might help with treatment and ongoing recovery. Physical exertion is beneficial, and the sense of accomplishment is a huge motivational influence.
Journaling for Your Health
Journaling is a powerful tool in many different areas of well being. It benefits not only mental health but also physical wellness. Some research even shows an improvement in breast cancer patient recovery through journaling.
The use of reflective journaling for adolescents shows increases in self-regulation, self-motivation, and self-effectiveness. It has also been used to benefit individuals working to overcome addiction. Journaling offers a place to let go of inner fears and stress. Reducing stress and negative thoughts are benefits that can be acquired through regular practice. It also improves critical thinking skills.
A study from Canada showed the benefits of journaling as a tool in counseling women with a gambling addiction. Members of the group were instructed on effective journaling in addition to group counseling. The results were fewer relapses and improved growth in areas of overcoming thoughts about the addiction.
10 Intentional Activities to Improve Mental Health
Engaging in these activities can help to improve mental health. How you approach it is an individual choice but helpful when intentionally focused.
- Enjoy life
- Express gratitude
- Commit to goals
- Practice kindness
- Cultivate optimism
- Practice forgiveness
- Develop coping strategies
- Cultivate social relationships
- Take care of your mind and body
- Avoid over-thinking and social comparison
The benefits of mental health outweigh the effort it takes to practice to improve it. All people face difficulties, but the ability to handle them can grow.
Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health Awareness Month (also called Mental Health Month) has been observed in the United States since 1949. It occurs every May, with local events and film screenings and other media.
It was started by Mental Health America, which was known as the National Association for Mental Health at that time. Each year, organizations interested in mental health sponsor a number of activities that are based on a different theme each year. The theme for 2020 was “Tools 2 Thrive.”
It was chosen because of the anxiety caused by the global pandemic and to focus on the mental health needs of everyone. For a person in recovery, every month should be mental health month.
You learned valuable skills to help you handle anxiety, stress, and depression while in treatment. Taking care of your mental health needs should become as natural as combing your hair and brushing your teeth.
Are You Taking Care of Yourself?
Are you in recovery and finding it difficult to stay abstinent? If the stresses of life have become too much for you, I have laid out some strategies for you to use. If you need help figuring it out, we can help at Coastal Detox.
Have the stresses of life in recovery gotten to be too much, and you had a relapse? You may need to go back to treatment and tweak your recovery plan. Have you never been to treatment, and made the difficult decision to try? In any case, you don’t have to do it alone.
We have an experienced, professional staff you can trust to help you with your condition. You can contact us here.