When I was 20 years old I started to develop an alcohol dependency. At first, I was deep in denial and didn’t think it was a big deal. Little did I know it would end up affecting my life in ways I had never imagined. Fortunately, there came a time when I realized how serious my situation was and decided to stop.
As you probably know, alcohol addiction recovery isn’t an easy road. At the beginning of my journey to sobriety I used to feel weak and had no energy most of the time, plus, I was dealing with emotional instability and low self-esteem. My counselor advised me to start exercising (or take up any physical activity) since it would help me both physically and mentally. Even though working out felt like the last thing I wanted to do at the time, I decided to give it a try, and it wasn’t long before I noticed the positive effects on my mind and body.
When we work out our brain releases endorphins, which create a natural high similar to the one I got from substances. Besides, research has shown that exercise can mitigate the side effects of withdrawal, such as depression, anxiety, and troubled sleep.
Since I’ve never been a very sporty person, taking up on exercise was a little tough at the beginning.
These 5 things really helped me push through and ultimately, they helped me in my alcohol recovery process:
1. Find the best fit for you
Before starting to work out I figured the best choice was to sign up to a gym, but I lasted less than a week. I didn’t like it, I felt like it wasn’t the place for me. I quit the gym but didn’t give up on exercising. I tried out yoga, pilates, and other types of workouts, but jogging was the one that I stuck with.
The most important thing when you work out is that you feel happy while doing it, so if at first it doesn’t feel right, you can try other types of workouts such as practicing a sport, dancing, or hiking, until you find the one that best suits you.
2. Do prep work
You should always start any type of workout with a warm-up in order to avoid getting injured. If you’re training with a coach or an instructor, they will let you know what you should do to warm-up. If you’re exercising by yourself, you should try warming up with 5-10 minutes of cardio (a brisk walk or a light run). Then, depending on the muscles you will work out that day, you should try warm-up exercises such as squats, jumping jacks, lunges or pushups.
It is very important to inform yourself before taking up a sport or workout. For example, before I started running, I didn’t know how to do it properly in order to avoid injuries, or that I had to think about things like proper stretching or the type of shoes I should wear. Thankfully, I never got injured, but I should’ve looked it up beforehand.
3. Set realistic goals
When it comes to exercising, you should never strive for perfection or to be the best at your first try. You probably want your muscles to be toned or be able to run a 5k right away, but the truth is it takes time and you shouldn’t get frustrated if you don’t achieve it after your first session.
Set small goals at first, and as you meet them you’ll be able to set and achieve bigger objectives over time.
4. Make it a habit
One of the most important yet most difficult things when starting to work out is constancy. Sometimes you may feel tempted to sleep in or do something else instead of exercising, but you need to push through it. Making exercise a habit can be easier than you think and it is essential to obtain all the benefits that come from working out.
In order to stay motivated, you should focus on the good things that exercising regularly will bring. You’ll feel happier and more energetic, your body will start looking better and your overall health will improve significantly.
5. Work out with a friend
Perseverance has always been an issue for me, and something that has really helped me is having someone who pushes me to keep going. When I started jogging I asked a friend to do it with me; we now jog together three times a week, and whenever I’m feeling lazy she encourages me to get off the couch and get moving, and I do the same for her.
Working out with a friend is a great and healthy opportunity to spend time with them and strengthen your relationship. Besides, it’s better this way!
Exercise has really made the road to sobriety much easier for me. It has made me feel more confident and at peace. Remember that consistency is key and you should find ways to stay motivated. Working out can really help you during your alcohol addiction recovery process, but it is only one of many healthy habits you can develop in order to stay happily sober.
Do you have any other tips on working out? If you have any suggestions, leave a comment below.