The end of rehab is a time to celebrate: you’ve made it through the first few weeks of recovery, and you’re not only still standing, you’re empowered to create a new life without drugs or alcohol.
You know that you need to continuing working with a therapist and that if you’re receiving treatment for co-occurring mental health issues, you should continue with your care. Additionally, 12-step meetings and ongoing engagement with therapies that were working for you in rehab are recommended after you return home as well.
But what else can you do to amp up your ability to avoid relapse and increase your chances of being successful in recovery for the long-term?.
It sounds like a small thing, but making changes in how you eat to prioritize wellness can improve your mood, help you sleep better at night, and improve your mental health as well as your physical health. Talking to a nutritionist can help you to get started if you feel completely at a loss when it comes to proper meal planning and preparation, but you can also make a few little changes at a time in order to start looking and feeling better:
- Plan out your meals in advance.
- Create a grocery list before you head to the store that includes everything you need for a few days’ worth of meals.
- Make double batches of your favorite meals and store them in single-serving containers in the freezer for easy use later when you don’t have time to cook.
- Eat multiple small meals each day.
- Always have healthy quick snacks on hand or in your bag if you’re not home a lot (e.g., fresh fruit, homemade energy bars, etc.).
- Bulk up on fruits and vegetables at every meal.
- Cut back on sugars, saturated fats, fried foods, processed foods, and trans fats.
Make Good Friends
Spending time with people you genuinely like and respect who feel the same about you is a great way to improve your outlook, decrease stress, and better your health. When you’re in recovery, it is especially important to build a strong network of people who support you in your efforts to avoid drugs and alcohol as well as support you in other goals that strengthen your recovery (e.g., making other healthful choices that improve your overall health).
Positive people can increase your level of positivity, provide you with connections to others who can help you achieve your goals, and generally lend a helping hand or a sympathetic ear when you need it.
Lower Your Stress
Lowering your overall level of stress makes it easier when something unexpectedly stressful arises – and it will. It can be something small like spilling hot coffee all over yourself when you’re already late for work, or it can be something big like getting into a car accident, getting fired, or going through a breakup. Any of these can trigger a relapse if you are already at your limit stress-wise, so continually working to maintain calm can help improve your everyday quality of life, improve your mental and physical health, and provide you with coping mechanisms to implement in the event of an acute stressor. Some options include:
- Taking yoga classes
- Practicing a countdown to a place of mental calm (e.g., counting backwards from 10 and imagining you are in a place where you feel happy and safe like the beach, a favorite house, etc.)
- Scheduling a regular massage
- Getting acupuncture, acupressure, or aromatherapy
- Going for walks
- Prioritizing downtime that is physically and mentally rejuvenating
Consider Talking to a Life Coach
- Assistance in managing details of getting set up in recovery
- Assistance in identifying new goals in life or specific to recovery(e.g., enrolling in school, finding work that matters)
- Assistance in mapping out an executable plan to achieve a specific goal
- Assistance in creating a recovery plan and/or connecting to medical and therapeutic providers.
- Sober companionship at a specific event where you may feel that your sobriety is threatened
A life coach can help you identify areas of need in your life that may be threatening your recovery, then assist you in creating – and following through on – a plan to address them before they throw you off track.
Choosing goals and following through on those goals are great ways to focus on recovery and avoid relapse. These can be specific to recovery, or they can be specific to your personal desire for your life. As long as they are positive, harm no one, and help you to avoid relapse, pretty much anything goes. You can choose to:
- Increase the number of meetings or therapeutic sessions you attend each week.
- Set and achieve specific financial goals.
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
- Learn a new skill.
- Get a new job or move into a new industry.
What will you do to increase your ability to stay sober in recovery? Leave a comment and share your plans.