Fitness and Self-care Enhance Addiction Recovery

For many recovering from addiction, fitness has become a vital aspect of their recovery. There has been a lot written about the benefits of exercise for those trying to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Exercising can be a great motivational force that brings structure and discipline into lives that were previously trapped in the unpredictable whir of addiction. Physical health can also reward us in a manner similar to drugs and alcohol. When the body undergoes sustained exertion, a chemical is released in the brain. These endorphins spread through our neuro-receptors and create a pleasant experience known to many as a runner’s high.

However,  great exercise can be for our minds, bodies and our recovery, it should be mentioned that too much exercise can start to be a bad thing. Sometimes our routines can become so intensive and time consuming that we put ourselves at risk for overexerting our energy. This can possibly lead to injury, or even more troublesome, ending up forming a responsive habit that ends up doing us more harm than good. Here are a couple things to keep in mind when balancing a fitness routine with recovery so that we never lose sight of our own self-care.

Knowing Your Limits

A lot of times, exercise is a way for us to push ourselves to achieve more. We want to jump higher, run faster, lift heavier weights, but how do we know where to draw the line? The answer is easier than you might think: do what’s safe. If you decided to start lifting weights, you wouldn’t begin with a 500-pound bench press. When pushing yourself, you need to build up to your goals incrementally. 

As a recovering addict, there may be a temptation for us to go harder and faster than we usually would. We equate our progression in fitness as our escape from the past, but if we’re not careful we can end up making the same mistakes in a different way. Pushing ourselves over what we can physically handle can lead to injury, which in many cases leaves us broken and defeated for a while. When we’re broken, it’s easier to fall back into bad habits such as turning to drugs to relieve pain. If we really want to recover from our addiction through fitness, we need to do it the right way with time, patience, dedication and discipline.

Focusing on Self-Care

When we work so hard to make our minds and bodies better, we sometimes neglect to give ourselves the kind of self-care we so desperately need. Self-care means that we are mindful enough to pull the brakes from time to time and let ourselves relax, enjoy and appreciate our bodies. If exercise is about pushing our bodies to achieve more, then self-care is about loving our bodies for what we have already achieved. Activities such as meditation, spa days, acupuncture and good old-fashioned sleep are just a few ways we can say thank you to our bodies and really evaluate how far we’ve come from our past addictive behaviors.

Self-care also means eating well. Nutrition plays an important role in making your workouts more effective by aiding in improved muscle mass. The right diet can also contribute to a healthier gut, which affects how you feel throughout the day. The connection between gut health and mood is becoming more apparent, as more research is indicating that most of the hormone called serotonin—which contributes to happiness—is produced in the gut. Eating more probiotics from foods like yogurt and supplements will help to restore the balance of your body’s microbiome, which in turn can improve your mood, digestive system, and immune system.

Finding the Right Balance 

While having a fitness routine is a great motivating tool, it cannot help us achieve our big-picture recovery goals alone. On the other hand, we cannot simply accept and appreciate who we are without ever working to overcome our negative actions and behaviors. We need to find a balance between the two, a way to love and care for ourselves, but also pushing to always achieve more and be better. We do this by dedicating time to both. If you’re already working within a workout regimen, then you already have the structure and organizational know-how to schedule a weekly massage, or to set aside some time to do some reflective reading. 

So, as we push our bodies and minds to be better, we have to take time to treat ourselves. By keeping a balance between fitness and self-care, we nurture our own ability to grow and learn. We can’t keep moving forward unless we take time to evaluate how far we’ve come.

June Lawerence

Photo Credit:Pixabay

The Mental Health Benefits of CBD

Everyone feels unwell sometimes, and that includes not just physical health, but mental health as well. It’s common for people to struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.

In fact, according to a world health report from the World Health Organization, one in four people worldwide are affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. About 450 million people currently suffering from such conditions. And unfortunately, nearly two thirds of people with a known mental disorder don’t seek help from a mental health professional.

Many treatments exist for mental health disorders, ranging from therapy to medication. One treatment is CBD. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a cannabinoid that has shown promise as a therapy for a variety of conditions, including mental health disorders.

What is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid, one of more than 100 sourced from the cannabis plant. It is generally extracted from industrial hemp, so it has at most trace amounts of THC. That means CBD doesn’t come with the psychoactive high of THC, and for some people, offers therapy without the high.

CBD is used to alleviate the symptoms of many conditions. These range from chronic pain to epilepsy. It offers an overall calming effect on the mind and body, and can offer mental health support for some patients.

What’s Known About CBD and Mental Health 

CBD is believed to be supportive of mental health, with the potential to treat mental health conditions including depression and anxiety. CBD has a positive effect on serotonin receptors in the brain. And serotonin supports emotional state and feelings of well being.

Research from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine indicates there is limited evidence cannabidiol can improve anxiety symptoms. A critical review of CBD from the World Health Organization indicates CBD can help with anxiety, as it can reduce muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue, and problems in concentration. It can also help with social anxiety and social interactions. Additionally, CBD can have an anti depressant effect.

CBD As An Alternative to Traditional Medication

For some people, CBD can offer a low risk alternative to anti depressants and other medication commonly prescribed for mental health conditions. The World Health Organization reports CBD has a good safety profile, with little risk of addiction or side effects, so it can be a good choice for patients who are considering more serious medications that could come with unwanted side effects. 

Some of the side effects of mental health medication can include mood swings, sleeplessness, and sexual dysfunction, but CBD does not come with the same potential side effects. Rather, CBD side effects are rare and typically mild, such as diarrhea or fatigue.

Using CBD for Mental Health

CBD can be an effective treatment for mental health. However, it’s always best to talk to your doctor about where it fits in with mental health treatment. It’s also important to consider which CBD products to use, as they can vary in potency, quality, and effectiveness. Generally, it’s best to stick with CBD products that carry third party testing with reports for quality, and look for products that can offer direct benefits for the condition treated. Patients who are already on mental health medications, but want to try CBD as an alternative, should discuss the transition with medical professionals.

Amelia Noble is a researcher with the CBD Awareness Project. When she’s not working, you can find her playing board games.