The road to recovery is a long one, and the withdrawal process makes it that much harder. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find joy in your life during recovery — this is often due to low levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, which both contribute to happiness and feeling good. While you’ll have plenty of help at a place like The Summit Wellness Group, it’s important to remember that you can support your own healthy brain chemistry with these five activities.
Studies across the board have shown that exercise works wonders for the mind and body, especially outdoors in the sun. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which are another chemical responsible for feelings of happiness; it also helps blood and oxygen flow more effectively through your body, which helps improve your energy and concentration. What’s more, exercise is a great way to improve your self confidence and break unhealthy habits, and there are plenty of fun ways to do it. Try going for a walk through the neighborhood, taking a dive at the community pool, throwing a ball around in the backyard or dancing along with a class on YouTube.
Humans are built to connect with one another, and doing so helps the brain eliminate feelings of isolation and distance. When you’re connecting with people to work for the common good, it’s much easier for your brain to release serotonin and dopamine. You can spend a day at your local animal shelter and help care for animals in need, visit your local soup kitchen or food pantry and offer donations or help with handouts or even visit a nursing home to spend time with the residents.
Connect with a Loved One
Surrounding yourself with people who care for and want what’s best for you means everything on the road to recovery. Connecting with familiar faces helps reduce your brain’s need for fight-or-flight hormones, which can ease anxiety and depression; it also encourages your brain to produce more ‘feel-good’ hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. If you’re not far from your family or friends, join or invite everyone over for a meal, a movie or a nice talk to catch up. Spend some time playing with your children, cuddle with your significant other and give your distant relatives and old friends a call, if you’re able to.
Get Back Into Your Hobbies
Almost everyone has activities they enjoy, and these various hobbies all stimulate different parts of the brain for different benefits. Painting, drawing, cooking, gardening, singing, playing instruments, reading, doing puzzles, building, working on cars and almost all forms of creativity activate and strengthen your frontal lobe, which helps encourage good brain health overall. If you had any hobbies that you enjoyed prior to your battle with addiction, recovery is a great time to rediscover them. If you’re staying in a rehabilitation facility, let your care providers know what you want to do. If you’re simply not interested in your old hobbies anymore, don’t be afraid to try something new.
Meditation and mindfulness do a lot of things for the body — they instruct your brain to be calm, which in turn encourages your tense muscles to relax and your respiratory system to use your oxygen more efficiently. They also help you connect with yourself, quietly reflect on what’s going on in your life and take a few moments to appreciate being alive. There are countless ways to meditate, all of which are completely customizable to your needs. Whether you close your eyes and take a few deep breaths right where you’re standing or allocate time in your day to chant and do breathing exercises in your safe space, meditation is great for the road to recovery.
While it can be hard to overcome negative feelings during recovery, it’s possible to give your brain what it needs to repair itself and help you feel better. No matter what brings you joy, do it safely and remember that you don’t have to force yourself to enjoy something simply because you feel obligated to. Building yourself back up takes a lot of time and care, so be patient and don’t be afraid to change things up if your current plan isn’t working.