5 Healthy Habits the Improve Mental Health and Encourage Sobriety
Addiction is hard on your body, mind, and spirit. The consequences of prolonged substance abuse can be profound and long-lasting. Deciding to seek treatment can be life-changing–or even life-saving.
But life in recovery isn’t always easy. Many people find the challenges after finishing treatment may be more difficult than expected.
Addiction forces people to stop thinking about anything else. In recovery, people must find ways to do the opposite. They must turn inward and tend to their bodies and minds. They must nurture their mental health and care for themselves in new ways.
If you live with addiction, you know it is a whole-person disease. Since it impacts every aspect of your life, you must engage in whole-person treatment and recovery. Small choices throughout the day can significantly impact how you feel about yourself and can help you stay committed to sobriety.
Here are five healthy habits for mental health that you can adopt to support your recovery.
Change Your Perspective
Many people have a mix of emotions after completing addiction treatment. Some feel proud and excited about recovery, while others may feel hesitant or unsure if they are ready to embrace sobriety. Others may feel guilt, shame, anger, or embarrassment because of their past behaviors or addiction’s stigma.
One of the most meaningful healthy habits in recovery is changing your perspective. Remind yourself that you are more than the addiction. Make a list of strengths–sometimes called a moral inventory–that will help you stay focused on what you are capable of. This may include things like:
- A good leader
Think about what traits you value in yourself and what you bring to the world. Write them down and remind yourself often that you are more than your addiction.
Make Real Connections
One of the most valuable healthy habits for mental health support is finding real, non-judgmental support. This is even more important for people in recovery since you may need to find a new group of friends to replace those who may still be using.
Staying active in new hobbies, reaching out to people in support groups, or renewing old friendships can help you find the connection you need in recovery.
Making new, meaningful relationships can take some time. It is essential to have at least one person you can call if you feel down or are triggered. This could be a supportive family member, counselor, or sponsor.
Keep reaching out to people who will support your sobriety. In time, you will make lasting connections that can help you find new purpose and meaning in life in recovery.
Develop New Coping Skills
To stay sober for life, you will need to use healthy coping skills to manage stress and deal with life’s challenges. You will begin working on developing these coping skills during treatment so that you can practice them in recovery.
Many coping skills involve keeping stress levels low and working through challenges without relapsing. When you are feeling overwhelmed, you might try:
- Talking to a friend
- Spending time outside
- Practicing a hobby
- Volunteering your time to a worthwhile cause
When you can manage stress without engaging in destructive behaviors, you have a better chance of staying sober.
Practice Real Self-Care
The way you treat your body and mind matters in recovery. That’s why one of the best healthy habits in recovery is practicing real self-care. Meaningful self-care is much more than just taking bubble baths or lighting a scented candle. It involves adopting small habits that can add up to big changes in your mental and physical health.
Some good self-care habits include:
- Eating regular, nourishing meals
- Moving your body in a way you enjoy every day
- Taking breaks to rest
- Prioritizing sleep–going to bed and waking up at the same time, keeping your room dark and quiet at night, and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon
- Socializing with supportive friends and family regularly
Finding a good balance between work, rest, and fun is essential. In time, minor adjustments to the way you treat yourself will show up as improved health, wellbeing, and self-esteem.
Rediscover What Makes You Feel Good
It is essential to find fun and satisfaction in your life in recovery. This means that you will need to find new ways to feel good. Unlike substance abuse, finding meaningful joy and wellness can bring you lifelong health, connection, and satisfaction. Many healthy habits for mental health and wellness can lead you to more fun and contentment in your everyday life–and this can make sobriety more appealing.
But redefining your idea of fun and pleasure may feel like an overwhelming task, especially if you haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about this in the past. You do not have to spend a lot of money exploring new hobbies. The key is to keep trying new things until you find something that sparks your interest.
It’s a good idea to start small. To begin with, make a small change to your daily routine. Take a walk in the morning or evening and explore a different part of your neighborhood. Think about a hobby you’d like to try and give it a shot. This could mean:
- Learning a new instrument or language
- Taking a dance or art class
- Starting a small garden
- Joining a book club
- Trying a new restaurant
- Cooking a new food
Socializing is important, too. Try to spend time with friends or family regularly and invest yourself in these relationships.
Finding a new way of living life in recovery may take some time and effort. But after a while, you will find real, long-lasting joy in these new relationships and experiences.
Get Help Now
If you or someone you love requires addiction treatment or support in recovery, reach out to the Carolina Center for Recovery specialists today.
Medically Reviewed: June 29, 2022
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.