Cutting out drugs and alcohol is a good first step towards leading a healthier lifestyle. After detoxing and having some sober time, you will likely feel much better physically (barring any sort of chronic pain disorder). As you work through the steps and build connections with other sober addicts/alcoholics, your mental health will likely improve as well.
In this article, we will discuss ways to form healthy habits in recovery.
How to Start a Healthy Habit
As with sobriety, starting a healthy habit should be taken day by day. If you are trying to get in good physical shape, try to schedule some exercise time during your day, be it in the morning, in the evening after work, or during your lunch break. You could even work out at 3 am if that fits your work schedule. At first, it might be difficult to motivate yourself to begin working out, but if you keep up the habit, it can become just another part of your routine the same way meetings become just another part of your routine.
For a healthier diet, try doing the same thing, taking it day by day. Get in the routine of cooking and eating healthy foods. You don’t have to cut out all fried food, desserts or candy, just don’t eat those foods as often. Like exercise, a healthy diet can become just another part of your routine and can get easier over time.
6 Healthy Habits to Start
There are several easy healthy habits you can start with, they include the following.
1. Meetings and work with a sponsor
Humans are social animals, building a sober community around you can satisfy your need for human interaction and companionship and act as insurance against the first drink. Attending meetings, staying afterward to talk to people, and getting a service position are great ways to come out of your shell and get to know other people who understand how your mind works. Working through the steps with a sponsor can help you:
- Accept that you’re powerless over drugs/alcohol
- Work through lingering resentments
- Gain self-awareness by looking at your character defects and your role in your resentments
- Ease the tremendous guilt you feel by making amends to those you have harmed (unless to make amends would injure them or others)
- Perform estimable acts by being of service to other alcoholics/addicts.
2. Cardio workouts
I am an avid long-distance runner, so this is the first habit that comes to mind. To me, running is like meditation, and I try to carve out time for a long run every day. If you’re just beginning to get into running, start small. Try running one mile for a few days. When that becomes easier, try moving up to two miles, when that gets easy, move up to three miles, and I think you get the picture. Portland has an abundance of running trails, so you won’t be bored.
Easier on the knees than running, biking can be a great cardio workout. Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, and in the metro area alone there is an endless amount of trails/potential routes. You can even try biking to work in the morning (or afternoon, or evening, whenever you work).
Swimming is another fantastic low-impact workout. It does require access to a pool, but swimming is a great way to get a full-body workout. Jump into the pool and start swimming, forgetting about the rest of the world.
For all these activities, start small and get bigger. As addicts and alcoholics, we love having immediate results, but that’s not how most things work.
3. Weight Workouts
If cardio isn’t your thing, lifting weights is another great way to get in shape and blow off steam. For most, this does require access to a gym. Lifting weights can help with your self-confidence and raise your metabolism, as muscles burn calories much faster than fat. There are plenty of gyms in the Portland area to start your new healthy habit. As was said above with running, you’re going to need to start small and work your way up to bigger weights.
In a state as beautiful as Oregon, you better believe there are plenty of great hiking trails. From the Cascades to the coast, to the high desert to the far east of Oregon, our state is loaded with gorgeous hiking trails. If solitude is your thing and you’re in Central Oregon, the fire roads are great off the beaten path trail (don’t let the name fool you, they don’t involve fires, they’re essentially just US Forest Service roads with a cool name). You can hike for hours and not see a single person (however, it’s not possible to overstate the importance of bringing a phone and some form of GPS with you if you choose to go on the fire roads.)
There are literally too many hiking spots in Oregon to list in under 1200 words, so here are a few links to good hikes
- Thrillist – Best Hikes Within 2 Hours of Portland
- Hikes In and Near Portland
- The Oregonian – The 15 most iconic hikes on the Oregon coast
- The Best Hikes in Bend and Central Oregon You Can’t-Miss
When you first hear the word “meditation”, you may picture Buddhist monks, sitting in the lotus position high on the Tibetan plateau or that crazy monastery in Bhutan that’s basically carved into a cliff (seriously, go Google “Tiger’s Nest Monastery”, it’s a crazy feat of engineering). While that is one way to meditate, that is far from the only way to do it. Any activity you can focus on one thought, object, or activity can be considered meditation. You can meditate immediately after waking up, while exercising, even right before going to bed.
6. If needed, work with professional counselors and therapists
Many addicts and alcoholics have some form of mental health disorder on top of their addiction, be it depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. While a 12-step program can help, these conditions often require help from a medical professional. There is absolutely no shame in working with a therapist (and possibly a psychiatrist as well) to work through mental health issues, and the benefits can be immeasurable.
PCTD Can Help!
Pacific Crest Trail Detox can give you a good foothold in sobriety and allow you to form healthy habits. Our programs give you access to trained counselors and housing, new sober friends, and help you gain a foothold in recovery, the first step of a healthier lifestyle.