By David Joel Miller
Would you like to adopt some healthy habits?
One sign of mental illness or substance use disorders is living an unhealthy lifestyle. People with depression do not have the energy to take care of themselves. People who are ill do not have the strength to maintain healthy habits.
Even those who don’t consider themselves “in recovery” find that adopting healthier habits can increase the happiness of their life and reduce the risk of becoming emotionally unhealthy.
One thing I have noticed from my time around the tables and the therapy rooms is that illnesses and diseases take a back seat to discussions of healthy habits. People who are really struggling talk about how hard, impossible it is to take care of themselves. As people recover then begin to talk increasingly about self-care.
Some will say that better self-care promotes recovery and others say that as you recover you begin to pay more attention to your self-care. I suspect there is some of both.
So what things are you doing to take better care of yourself?
Some people feel so responsible for others that they find it hard to spend time, money or effort on self-care.
Taking good care of yourself is not being selfish!
Here are some major areas of self-care that I see client’s engaging in as their recovery progresses.
A better, healthier diet is part of self-care.
When you are in your disorder preparing food and eating can be a chore. Depressed people either eat nothing or they eat most everything. Often their food choices are unhealthy. Substance abusers have similar disruptions in their eating. As people begin to recover they pay more attention to what they are eating and how this is affecting them. How is your diet supporting your emotional health and recovery?
Exercise and health maintenance are parts of recovery.
Recovering people often begin an exercise program. They think about seeing a doctor. They get their physical health problems treated.
After years of failure to take care of your body, working on your health can become a priority. Recovering people need to balance their physical recovery with their emotional and spiritual recoveries. It is easy to turn an exercise program or being health conscious into a new addiction. This may be a “better addiction” but it can take you down a wrong path and away from real lasting recovery.
It is important to tell yourself that no matter how much damage to your body you old lifestyle has caused, you are worth taking care of. Depression and inactivity take their toll. So do anxiety and addiction. See to it that you get the health part of your recovery in balance with the other portions.
Setting boundaries with others safeguards recovery.
Part of recovery is learning to say no, set healthy boundaries. As you treat yourself better you will no longer be able to abide others treating you poorly.
You will also find that you are more able to treat others as they should be treated. You will begin to recognize and respect others boundaries.
Safe and comfortable housing promotes recovery.
When you are down and discouraged you stay where you can. Once in recovery, you home becomes important.
You may need help finding a safe place to stay, do not hesitate to use public programs and private resources. Be sure that you make your nest in a place that is supportive of your recovery, not a place of settling for something less than you deserve.
Do what you can to make where ever you stay “your place.”
Improving relationships promotes recovery.
Recovering people want a healthy relationship with their children, parents and significant others. They also may need to reexamine friendships and try to strengthen healthy supportive relationships, mending breaches where possible and sometimes they find that there are former associates that need to be let go.
Even if you do not think of yourself as a recovering person, adopting healthy lifestyle practices can improve the quality of your life.
What healthy lifestyle practices are you ready to adopt and take home?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books