Consider Some Situations
You have arrived at a busy shopping center. You have been driving up and down the parking lanes for 15 minutes looking for a “good” spot. There are quite a few spots at the far end of the rows—furthest from the door to the building—but you keep thinking you can find something closer.
You are in the lobby of an office building and your meeting is on the third floor. You see the door to the stairs, but you also hear the ping of the elevator as the door opens and a mechanical voice intones “going up.”
You and a friend have decided to meet for a coffee at a charming little shop less than a mile from your home. It is a beautiful day and you aren’t in any hurry, but you decide to drive there anyway.
Little Changes Can Have Big Benefits
We all make little decisions like these all of the time, usually without really thinking about them at all. And they might seem of very little consequence.
But in truth, making little changes when faced with choices like these can have some big benefits—for both your recovery and your overall mental well-being.
All Exercise Is Good Exercise
For many people, the word “exercise” conjures up images of great exertion in a gym or long miles of running or biking or some other vigorous activity. And don’t get us wrong. Those sorts of exercise are great, and they can result in real benefits for your physical and mental health.
Plenty of people aren’t up for anything like that, and so they end up believing that exercise just isn’t for them. But what if we were able to shift that way of thinking to a more inclusive idea about exercise?
What if we reminded ourselves that all exercise is good exercise (as long as it is not likely to lead to injury)?
Now the decision to park a little farther away or to take the elevator or to walk to the coffee shop is a decision to exercise. And given how often we have the chance to make these small decisions, choosing the exercise option more often than not can really add up to a significant increase in physical activity.
The Link to Your Recovery
That may all sound well and good to you, but you may also be wondering what any of this has to do with your recovery from a substance use disorder. It’s a fair question.
Here are some of the benefits of exercise and how they relate to your recovery:
- Reduction in chronic pain: Exercise can help alleviate ongoing pain, which can be very important to a person in recovery who should not be taking painkillers.
- Boost to energy levels and mood: It might seem like exercise does nothing but take up your energy, but it turns out that exercise is actually associated with increased energy levels. And exercise is also known to support your overall mood. More energy and a better mood can help relieve symptoms of depression or anxiety—which is important for maintaining your sobriety.
- Strengthening the immune system: The misuse of alcohol or drugs can have an extremely negative impact on your immune system. Exercise can help undue that damage and strengthen your body’s ability to fight off illness. Feelings of wellness support your recovery.
- Supporting restful sleep: Getting enough sleep is a key way to support your sobriety and overall mental and physical wellness. Exercise during the day supports sleep at night.
- Overcoming boredom: We admit that adding a bit of walking to your parking lot routine is probably not a substantial solution to boredom. But as you start to feel better, you may find that you are interested in getting more exercise, more often. No matter what activity you might choose (and the options are practically endless), you will be staving off boredom. And that’s a good thing, because the feelings of restlessness and discontent that come with boredom are a threat to your sobriety.
First Things First: Reclaim Your Sobriety
At French Creek Recovery Center, we combine expertise and compassion, evidence-based practices and personalized treatment plans, and optimism and rigor to help individuals regain and maintain their sobriety. For us, it is far from an empty exercise. Instead, it is our passion and our privilege to help people restart their lives in ways that are positive, healthy, and drug and alcohol-free. If you are struggling, we can help.