Happiness tips while recovering from addiction
by Evelyn Flynn, who often writes about how to be happy
For people battling against addiction, the feelings of happiness, contentedness, and positivity are not emotions that they regularly feel. As their bodies go through the difficult (and often painful) changes that it needs to overcome addiction, their minds suffer too. Many recovering addicts feel anxiety, stress, and shame with their self-esteem at an all time low. This is natural but it can also be detrimental to the recovery process. Sociologists believe that there is a clear link between low self esteem/personal unhappiness and future problems with addiction. One study goes as far as to suggest that low self-esteem at age 11 leads to a strong likelihood of addiction issues by age 20. And as a recovering addict struggles to overcome their addiction, thus feeling miserable all over again, the chances of them relapsing can be particularly high.
This is why it is so important to try and maintain a positive mental attitude when battling addiction. Of course this is easier said than done, but here a few tips and lifestyle changes that you can make in order to give you the best possible chance of recovery.
Work on your self-esteem
As an addict comes to terms with the reality of their addiction, they can feel a great sense of shame at the way they may have behaved. One theory of addiction is that the compulsive desire for a particular substance is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain which can lead the sufferer to behave in all sorts of socially unacceptable ways. But dwelling on this will not help you to move forward—it will hinder your recovery process. Keep your self-esteem high by letting go of the past and focusing on the future.
Taking steps towards recovery is a huge achievement so congratulate yourself for it regularly and be sure to accept compliments from others too rather than immediately dismissing them. Set realistic goals for yourself and work through them at your own pace—as you achieve them, your confidence and self worth will grow. Some theorists believe that writing affirmations and repeating them daily can help you to stay on track and boost your self belief too.
Maintain a good diet
What you eat can have a direct impact on how you feel, so now is the time to start eating healthily. Ensure that you eat a nutritional and well balanced diet. Certain ‘superfoods’ are even thought to have antidepressant properties. For example, dark chocolate is full magnesium which reduces and anxiety and increases blood flow to the brain, improving concentration and mood. Similarly, avocado contains serotonin, a natural feel-good neurotransmitter. Obviously these should be consumed in moderation but you may find that a little here and there can help lift your mood.
Do not rely on the ‘fake highs’ of food or drinks that are high in caffeine or sugar. These may give you an initial energy boost but the effects wear off quickly and can lead to a massive come-down.
Like healthy eating, regular exercise can be great for the mind as well as the body. A study carried out by Penn State University indicated that people who exercise regularly feel a greater sense of excitement and enthusiasm than those who don’t. It also showed that these people reported particular happiness on the days that they took part in physical activity. This is thought to be down to the endorphins that are released in the body during exercise—these promote greater feelings of optimism and leave you pumped up and feeling positive while suppressing the hormones that may be responsible for causing stress and anxiety. This doesn’t have to involve vigorous exercise—yoga and meditation promote self-calming techniques that alleviate stress too.
Along with the mental benefits of regular exercise, you will also find that your body is in better shape, which means that you’ll have a more positive self-image which will help your self-esteem too.
Hiding yourself away from people can lead to you becoming isolated and lonely. Try, where possible, to surround yourself with positive influences. Even if you don’t speak to anyone, putting yourself amongst other people in a public setting can give you a new perspective. The support of friends and family during this difficult time can be invaluable. They can offer you comfort and help you to stay on track. But choose your friends wisely—anyone who competes with you, derides you or tries to interrupt your progress will have an impact on your self esteem and recovery.
Don’t be ashamed to ask for help
Sometimes you may find yourself struggling under the pressure of the task that you have set yourself. Overcoming addiction is a huge lifestyle change that will affect your mind and body in a number of ways. Don’t be ashamed to seek advice from a healthcare provider, counselor, or rehabilitation cenetr that specializes in addiction treatment. You may be offered medication, counseling, or be linked up with people who have been in similar situations that may be able to offer you support, advice, and reassurance.
Being honest and open with the troubles that you are experiencing is the key to success. Keeping your feelings bottled up will only lead to more anxiety and prevent you from getting the help that you need to succeed. Often, this can be as easy as making a simple appointment with your doctor who can outline the options available to you and let you know that you are not alone. Take a friend or family member along for support.