Healthy lifestyle changes are crucial for preventing a lapse or relapse in early recovery. Changing your habits to strengthen your recovery means making healthier choices across all domains of your life.
Forming New Habits to Strengthen Your Recovery: Take It Slow
Changing too many habits at once or trying to make big lifestyle changes in early recovery can backfire, eroding your self-confidence and adding extra stress to your life. Instead, start small. For example, instead of making radical changes to your diet, simply eat more fruits and vegetables for a couple of weeks, and once you’ve got that down, make other small, sustainable changes.
Remember that forming new habits takes time. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. Just keep practicing your new habits regularly, and soon they’ll become routine.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse stresses that personal vigilance against relapse is paramount to successful recovery.1 This makes mindfulness one of the most important habits to strengthen your recovery. Staying mindful means being aware of your moods, attitudes, thought patterns and behaviors.
But mindfulness takes practice, and meditation is one of the best ways to achieve it. Strive to meditate for at least 15 minutes a day, and work your way up to a half hour. With regular practice, you’ll quickly notice a difference in your stress and anxiety levels, your general self-awareness and your mindfulness in recovery.
- Reduces stress
- Reduces cravings
- Decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Improves overall physical health
- Improves self-esteem and self-confidence
- Helps you sleep better
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight
3. Pick up a new hobby
Staying busy in recovery can help ward off cravings and negative thoughts, and hobbies in recovery are shown to have numerous benefits. Whether you’re athletic, artistic, musical, a good writer or have other interests and talents, you can find a hobby that suits you. Picking up a hobby and making a habit of it is one of the best habits to strengthen your recovery because of it:
- Gives you opportunities to meet new people and bond over a shared interest
- Reduces stress
- Gives your life purpose and meaning
- Helps you express yourself in new ways
- Wards off boredom, feelings of isolation and other negative emotions
4. Take excellent care of yourself
Self-care is a critical factor for successful recovery. Developing a self-care routine and forming new self-care habits to strengthen your recovery can improve your mood and the way you feel about yourself. Good self-care has a profound impact on your view of the world and your attitude toward recovery. Some good self-care habits to get into in early recovery include:
- Getting adequate sleep each night
- Eating healthy food
- Reducing your stress
- Getting sufficient relaxation time
- Paying attention to grooming so you feel your best
- Setting boundaries
- Laughing every day
- Enjoying yourself with friends and family