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Changing Bad Habits – Thriving in Recovery, One Day at a Time (by Adam Cook)

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Your addiction may have cost you your job, your friends and family, or your health. But here you are today. You’ve gone through the detox process, and you’re on a path to recovery. While this new path may have its share of challenges, life will become easier. Here are proven tips to help you get or keep your life on track so you can truly thrive in 2018!

Eliminate Triggers From Your Home

First, ask a friend, relative, or professional to assist you in removing everything that you associate with your previous lifestyle. This includes any remaining drugs or alcohol, as well as any paraphernalia. Then, give the space a good cleaning. Scent can be a powerful trigger, so wash all linens, window coverings and clothes in a new laundry detergent with a different scent than you’re used to. Take a moment to identify any of these triggers and eliminate them. If you wore a particular fragrance while you were using, it’s time to head for your nearest fragrance counter for a new scent! If you find that the smell of cigarette smoke triggers your cravings, make an effort to steer clear.

Avoid Triggers Outside of Your Home

Just as you removed everything from your home that you associate with your previous lifestyle, you’ll want to stay away from those people, places and things that might trigger you to use as well. It could be that pub you frequented or that one friend’s house where you’d go to get high. Identify all the places that make you think of using drugs and avoid them as well as you can.

Focus on Self Care

  • A rubric that helps in recovery is A.L.T. Don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Lonely, Angry, or Tired.
  • Studies abound on the effects of exercise on addiction. Experts say it provides a “high” that can be important for addicts trying to combat cravings. Because it increases levels of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin in the brain, it decreases anxiety and stress and helps to regulate sleep, a common problem for addicts in early recovery. Exercise can also improve cognitive function, which is often impaired by chronic substance abuse.
  • How you eat dramatically affects your well-being. You’ll want to eat a balanced diet low in refined sugar and high in protein and complex carbohydrates.
  • Get your daily dose of zzz’s. During deep and REM sleep, the brain regulates all of its chemicals and resets the neurotransmitter systems.
  • Take time to relax. Yoga and meditation are becoming increasingly popular tools for helping people deal with addictions, and many substance abuse treatment centres are incorporating these practices into their programs. Studies abound on all the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of yoga and meditation. Both greatly reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Treat yourself with positive distractions. Revisit or pick up a new hobby. Experiencing boredom is like a classic rite of passage in recovery, so go ahead and give yourself permission to finally sign up for salsa classes, mosaics, the violin, welding, or whatever makes your heart sing.
  • Spend time with a positive support system such as a support group for those in recovery. Just as you may have had to cut ties with those in your past who had an unhealthy influence on you, you will want to welcome those who support you in staying clean and sober. Surrounding yourself with others who choose sobriety will help you avoid triggers and remain focused on your recovery. Because they understand your challenges, they offer a safe place for voicing your struggles. They’re also in a position to offer insights and ideas on how to overcome them.

Find Inspiration

Discover what inspires you, be it self-help books, art, or time spent in nature. Research has shown that spiritual practices help the brain regenerate and heal itself. Explore the teachings of spiritual leaders or alternative health advocates such as Deepak Chopra who once said, “Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask yourself if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.”

If you relapsed last week or even yesterday, it’s now in the past. Today is a new day for you to upgrade your life. Don’t let setbacks defeat you. You have so much to look forward to. As you embrace your recovery and focus on using the tips and tools above, you will transform your life and thrive one day at a time. Extraordinary days are ahead for you.

By Adam Cook

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