When people talk about getting sober, they often use the term “clean.” We’re clean if we’ve managed to stay away from drugs or alcohol, but to maintain longterm sobriety it’s important to integrate clean, healthy living into all areas of your life. That doesn’t just mean avoiding substances that can do you harm. It also means actively engaging in practices that can help you live a cleaner, healthier life.
Focusing on holistic health can help you integrate healthy living into all areas of your life. This is important not just in early recovery, but over the course of a lifetime. Here’s everything you should know about using holistic health to maintain your sobriety.
What Is Holistic Health?
The term “holistic” gets thrown around often these days because it has become a buzzword. However, it’s important to pause and consider what these words actually mean. Holistic health means caring for the whole person, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components of the self. Oftentimes, this is seen as a contrast to western medicine, which is often solely preoccupied with physical health.
Taking a look at holistic health is important for recovery. Substance use disorder erodes your health on all these levels. In order to really thrive in recovery you must restore your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health to live as a wholly healthy individual.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is another buzzword that is often tossed around. However, it’s an incredibly powerful practice, especially for people who are in recovery. Mindfulness means being present in the moment. People who practice mindfulness are conscious and aware of their feelings, and accept them without judgement. An important part of mindfulness is being present in the current moment, without worrying about the past or future.
Long before mindfulness was a trend in America, recovery communities and 12-step programs taught this concept through the mantra, “One day at a time.” This shows how well the idea of mindfulness fits into recovery. By learning to live mindfully you can focus on where you currently are in recovery, without feeling overwhelmed by the mistakes you have made in the past of what you will need to do in the future.
Starting a Mindfulness Practice
Today, many addiction treatment professionals and rehab centers recognize that holistic health strategies can help people stay sober. Because of this, many treatment centers begin teaching people clients about mindfulness, meditation and other practices in treatment.
However, if you didn’t learn these skills in treatment it’s not too soon to start. Meditation is a basic mindfulness practice that involves clearing your mind and centering yourself. Today, there are an array of apps that can help you begin a meditation practice. At the beginning you can benefit from meditating just a few minutes each day. Over time, you can meditate for longer periods if you’d like. Just like regularly attending meetings, regularly meditating can help keep you focused on sobriety.
Other Mindfulness Practices
Meditation is at the root of mindfulness practice. However, there are many other activities that can cultivate mindfulness in your day. Journaling, music and art all incorporate mindfulness if they are done with that intention. Taking a walk or exercising can also help you practice mindfulness, while enhancing your physical health.
There are many practices that integrate holistic wellness of the mind, body and spirit. These are particularly well-suited for people in recovery because they build the connection between the different aspects of your self. Yoga is extremely popular because it benefits physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Some people prefer martial arts like Qigong or Tai Chi. There are many options for mindfulness practices, and finding the one that you enjoy the most will help you stick with your new healthy habits.
The Importance of Breath Work
Your breath is what sustains you throughout each day, and it’s also a powerful tool for calming and healing. That’s why so many holistic health practices, from meditation to yoga to martial arts, integrate breath work. As a child, you were probably told to take a deep breath when you were upset. As an adult, this simple practice can help you stay on track with sobriety. Taking a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth can help you reconnect and center yourself. This is a powerful tool because it can be done anywhere, in just a moment’s time.
Maintain sobriety in the long term is a life-long challenge. Having more tools to help you stay healthy will increase your changes of success. Holistic health strategies can be used on their own, or alongside other treatment modalities like therapy or medication-assisted treatment. This makes them especially powerful and important for people in recovery.