As the end of 2018 approaches, now is a time of reflection for many. It’s a time to take stock of your accomplishments and struggles over the last year. If you suffer from addiction or mental health issues, this time of the year may be especially bittersweet. The extreme highs and lows can be difficult to process and leave you unsure of your next steps.
As we head into the new year, now is the time to set goals for your future. If you feel the past year could have been better, this is your opportunity to change the narrative. If you’re proud of the progress you’ve made, make a commitment to continue and find ways to expand on your improvements. To get you started, we’re bringing you a list of five habits to help 2019 be a year of health and wellness.
1. Establish an Exercise Routine
Exercise has a variety of proven health benefits, but you may not realize the impact it has on fighting addiction or coping with mental illness. Along with improved cardiovascular health and physical fitness, here are a few advantages exercise has to offer.
Exercise stimulates your brain to release certain chemicals, such as endorphins, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which are responsible for the happiness and euphoria feelings after a workout. If you have issues with drug addiction, these chemicals have been depleted through drug stimulation and your brain must re-learn how to release them naturally. These chemicals are also helpful when battling depression and anxiety.
The amount of focus needed for exercise is directly related to its intensity. This focus can serve as a useful distraction for people struggling with mental illness and addiction. Taking the time to exercise can allow you to focus on something other than your cravings or the troubling thoughts in your head. Sometimes, this is enough to get you to the other side of the cycle.
2. Improve Your Diet
Your body needs nutrients to run efficiently, so it’s important to stick to a well-rounded diet to provide what it needs. Deficiencies in certain nutrients can prevent your body from healing and worsen mental illness symptoms. Studies have shown that over 40 percent of adults get less than the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals through diet. This means it is crucial to consider the nutritional impact of the food you eat. When planning your meals or choosing supplements, make sure you’re getting enough of these vitamins and minerals:
- Magnesium is a macro-mineral needed for several bodily functions. Deficiency can cause anxiety symptoms and migraine headaches.
- B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins that help boost energy levels and promote a healthy metabolism. Deficiencies have been linked to depression, fatigue and mood disturbances.
- Vitamin D is created in your body in response to sunlight exposure. It’s needed for your brain to produce serotonin and contributes to a healthy immune system. Deficiency can cause depression, fatigue and a lowered immune response.
- Vitamin C is commonly found in citrus fruits and known to boost the immune system. It’s believed to aid in mood stabilization. Deficiencies cause loss of appetite, irritability and fatigue.
- Zinc is a trace element that regulates immune function and improves memory formation. It has also been studied as a natural treatment for ADHD. Deficiency symptoms include loss of appetite, impaired cognitive function and depression.
3. Get the Sleep You Need
Adequate sleep is one of the kindest things you can give to your body and should be one of the easiest. For those battling mental illness and addiction, however, getting enough sleep can be a struggle. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three adults in America don’t get enough regular sleep. Although it can be difficult, allowing your body and brain the rest they need offers numerous benefits, including:
- Higher pain threshold
- Weight regulation
- Improved heart health
- Stronger immune system
- Improved cognitive function
- Improved mood
If you find that getting to sleep each night is a struggle, there are steps you can take to promote a healthier sleep schedule. Set a bedtime routine and incorporate relaxing activities, such as taking a warm bath or reading soothing book. Make sure to end any screen time at least an hour before bed. Drinking chamomile tea can also help you wind down. If you still need help, melatonin is a natural supplement that may help, and there are a few non-addictive sleep aids available over the counter. If all else fails, talk to your doctor about prescription options to ensure you get the sleep you need.
4. Start Journaling
Journaling is a simple tool that offers several benefits. It helps you cope with any confusion you may experience and can also lower your stress levels. The act of writing your feelings and experiences on paper signals to your brain that a record has been made. This allows it to stop focusing on the things you’ve written, promoting better rest and relaxation.
Journaling can also serve as detailed documentation of your recovery. When changes are gradual, it can be easy to forget how far you’ve come overall. Your journal can give you a better idea of your total progress, showing you how the little changes add up. It may even help your doctor optimize your treatment plan by using it as a record of your tolerance to the actions being taken.
5. Talk to Someone Regularly
Finally, make sure to stay socially engaged. Humans are social creatures, and we need interaction with one another to process the world around us. Whether you choose to engage with trusted family members or friends, make time to spend time with people who make you feel comfortable. If you prefer, you can even seek out a therapist or counselor. Your interactions can be online or on the phone, but remember that face-to-face meetings offer the most benefit.
If you’re struggling with addiction or mental illness and you’re ready to make a change, please contact the Florida House Experience to help you take your life back. Our caring, professional counselors are available anytime to explain your options and help you choose the best treatment plan for your situation. Make 2019 the year you begin your recovery.