In today’s crazy world, stress seems to be the norm in terms of our internal “baseline”. Alcoholism and addiction only exacerbate an already hectic societal pace. As alcoholics and addicts, we thought we had found the magic potion to ease our self-consciousness and awkward social behaviors. And perhaps at the beginning, it worked. But, as we know, over time, our “Easy Bake Oven” becomes a meth lab. The chemistry experiment goes haywire, and our Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde.
Once you’ve been on that hamster wheel of drinking and using drugs for a good chunk of your life, you come to the point where it stops doing what you needed it to do. In fact, it turns on us and becomes the only thing we seek to help us navigate the world without falling to pieces. And it betrays us in the end. It not only stops working but the stress of acquiring and using becomes our only focus on life, and the insane part is it no longer helps us. We fall apart and hit the wall. At that point of no return (hopefully) we are on our knees asking for help from “the universe”. Lucky for us, there is help in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Once we admit we are powerless over alcohol and drugs and our lives have become unmanageable, we are ready to begin the journey of recovery. It’s simple, but not easy! Once we start to feel like a human again, we will likely feel the things we used to drink and use over. This is not always fun and often it throws us back into old habits. The way forward can be mapped out in ways to ease the transition into your authentic self.
It is now a known fact that physical exercise is not only good for the body, but it helps with depression and anxiety as well. In fact, during light aerobic exercise, as the heartrate increases, your body produces endorphins that give you a “high” of sorts. A hit of “well-being” and an increased sense of hope and optimism will surely lower anyone’s stress. Bringing exercise into a daily practice can reduce a person’s fear and help them get stronger and healthier on the physiological side as well as the emotional side. This is a great idea for a person making huge life changes that may require some soul searching and rigorous honesty to help them feel positive about their future.
Another stress reliever is yoga and meditation. Yoga is something I have some real experience in and know how much it can help in all the ways mentioned about exercise. However, yoga is different from a cardio workout in that it feels quieter and more of a body-mind meld. In the beginning, especially for people not used to it, it may be a little bit intimidating to see people who are much more flexible than we are. But ya gotta start at the beginning! Nobody can twist themselves into a pretzel in the first class! The point is, you begin where you are, and give yourself a few weeks perhaps 2 or 3 times a week, and then you start to see and feel how your body becomes stronger and you can stretch a bit more than before. Using your body weight in the yoga poses is sort of perfect in terms of having a practice you can pretty much do anywhere anytime - all you need is a yoga mat and a towel to wipe your brow! The breathing that goes with most styles of yoga is a wonderful stress reliever that you will find helps you to push yourself a bit further each time you do it. All in all, yoga is a great habit to add to your recovery pathway as you get and stay sober.
Many find meditation much easier when they incorporate some simple breathing techniques that will bring you into the moment and help you clear the channel in your head. Even 5 minutes of sitting still and counting your inhales and exhales will help recalibrate your nervous system and quiet the noise in your head.