10 Ways to Improve Your Ability to Fight Relapse in Recovery
You’ve endured the detox process and completed treatment. But when you leave drug rehab, your recovery is not over – in fact, it’s only just beginning.
Before you leave, you will likely work together with your therapeutic team to connect with the medical and therapeutic referrals you will need to continue the work you started in treatment. That is a great first step toward solidifying your foundation in recovery after you transition out of treatment.
But there are a lot of little changes you can make in your life – little things you can do that will empower you to feel stronger in your ability to avoid relapse. Some of the simplest include:
Take a nap. Easy, right? Getting a good amount of restful sleep every day can give your body time to repair itself, rejuvenate you, help you to fight off illness, and improve your mood. All of these can also serve to lower your overall stress levels and improve your ability to handle any issue that may unexpectedly arise, so you can stay calm and think things through in an effort to make the best possible decision for yourself and your continued recovery.
Eat something. It sounds like a small thing, but hungry people are cranky people, and cranky people are irritable. Irritability means that even the littlest stressors may seem overwhelming in the moment. These moments can contribute to relapse and/or be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in terms of your ability to avoid drinking or getting high.
Take a deep breath. Never feel pressured to respond instantly to someone’s request or to a situation that demands a choice if you are not entirely sure what will be the most positive and healthy route for you. No matter how urgent the situation may seem in the moment, it is never so urgent that you can’t take a moment to breathe, think, and then respond in a way that doesn’t make the situation worse.
Spend time with positive people. When you fill your life with people who are happy, positive, driven, and grounded, you will be more likely to have those traits yourself. All of these traits will contribute to your ability to see things in your life in a more positive light, which in turn will increase your ability to avoid relapse.
Cut out negative relationships. On the other hand, surrounding yourself with people who are negative, condescending, and diminishing of everything around them may contribute to your tendency to view things in a negative way. Constantly seeing the glass as half full, noting the one “bad” thing or flaw in an otherwise beautiful experience, and assuming that things aren’t going to go well, may contribute to the attitude of “oh, forget it; it’s not worth trying to stay sober, anyway” that may lead to relapse.
Replace negative thinking patterns. Similarly, learning how to reframe your experiences so you are not viewing them in a negative light can help you to avoid relapse. For example, rather than wallowing in the breakup of a romance, instead, see it as an opportunity to do more of the things that you like to do and perhaps to eventually connect with someone who is better suited to you.
Do something new. As long as it doesn’t threaten your recovery, a new hobby or interest is a great way to keep yourself active, engaged, and thriving in recovery. Obviously, learning the art of beer brewing isn’t the best choice, but enrolling in an art history course or learning how to take black and white pictures with a 35mm camera might be a good idea.
Work out. Exercise not only produces endorphins when you get your heart rate up and work up a sweat – natural feel-good chemicals – but continued exercise that improves your heart health and bone health, and that helps you to drop unhealthy weight can all increase your self-confidence, your quality of sleep, your mood, and your ability to process nutrients in food effectively – all things that can increase your ability to avoid relapse.
Improve yourself. Bettering yourself is a lifelong process, and making small goals that you can easily accomplish within a few months gives you a sense of forward and positive progress in your life that can help prevent relapse. For example, you may choose to volunteer at a food bank, run a coat drive for underprivileged kids, read some great literature, learn more about the history and culture of your local area, learn a new language, or learn how to cook healthy foods – anything that improves your life, stimulates your intellect, and gets you engaged.
Get a dog. Or a cat or a bird or any animal that draws you in and makes you feel emotionally connected and bonded. There is nothing like a relationship with an animal to help you learn how to be loved unconditionally, be trusted by another creature, and take an active role in a positive relationship in recovery. Just make sure you’re ready for the commitment and fully understand what it will take to care for your animal of choice.
What do you find helps you to feel stronger in recovery? What improves your mood, your health, and your ability to keep going even if you feel like drinking or getting high? Leave a comment and share your tips.