We all know that physical health and mental health go hand and hand in Recovery. Your energy level is a direct result of both your mental state and physical condition. In this article, I will cover how to improve your energy level, which will in turn improve your overall Recovery Program.
In the Daily Life Plan Journal your physical health is discussed in the Goal Setting Section. In the Journal portion of the workbook I ask you to assess purely, your “physical energy level” using the Energy Level Gauge. I want you to measure your ability to get off the couch and partake in physical activity. I suggest you monitor your energy level through out your day and to look for your personal peaks, valleys and trends in respect to your physical energy.
Set a long-term goal regarding your personal health.
Ask yourself, where do I want to be with my health in a year? Then break down month by month how you can achieve your goal. If you are pleased with your present condition, your goal may be to maintain your present health. A thing called “aging” may have something to say about that, however either way, have a goal.
Many of us have a goal to lose or gain weight. If that is the case you should create a plan that is attainable, measurable and time bound. Set up a monthly goal and a daily list that includes tasks that will keep you on track for your weight loss or gain objective. As always, I strongly suggest you write your goals and keep them where you will see them often. The items on your list will include the same exact items as I suggest for increasing your energy level.
The Three Amigos to Increasing Your Energy Level.
1) Nutrition 2) Exercise 3) Sleep
I know, you think you’ve heard this all before, however, are you aware of why these Amigos are important to reclaiming your brain from the damage of addiction? Alcoholism and addiction deregulates your brain’s normal electrical and chemical patterns. The activity level in your brain’s frontal lobe has been reduced. Your neuropathways are wired for addiction and that wiring is not going away.
Don’t panic, if you are reading this you have most likely reversed these damaging trends and are on the way to reclaiming a healthy brain. Here are some tips to expedite your brain recovery.
1) Nutrition: All active alcoholics and addicts are malnourished. Alcohol contains more calories per gram than everything other than fat. Drinkers take in loads of empty calories which tricks them into thinking they are full. Alcohol and drugs prevent the digestive system from breaking down nutrients and eliminating toxins and creates gastrointestinal disorders. The recovering person needs to eat foods high in nutrients in order to rebuild damaged tissues.
Alcohol and drugs prevent the body from properly processing the amino acids, tyrosine and tryptophan, which produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norephinephrine. These brain chemicals have a huge affect on emotional stability, mental clarity and maintaining a state of well-being. In addition to repairing organs, good nutrition will help with cravings, moods swings and sleep patterns. The following lists of high protein, high carbohydrate foods are helpful choices in early recovery: Fish, Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Red Meat, Eggs, Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Beans, Almonds, Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Whole grain foods with wheat and oats.
Of course, all diets should include fresh vegetables and raw fruits.
Also, research what supplements may help you with specific problems and always check with a medical professional before taking.
2) Exercise: As with everything in your recovery they key word is “moderation.” My first week out of treatment I went to the gym and thought I could jump in and start lifting weights with the body builders. The injury kept me from exercising for months.
Exercise will increase your metabolism so calories will burn more efficiently, even while you are at rest. This will help with weight control.
Exercise will decrease cholesterol and increase high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), the good fats. It will also reduce blood pressure and give you more energy.
Exercise creates more blood flow to the brain getting it more oxygen and in turn, the brain releases endorphins that make you feel good both mentally and physically.
Two types of exercise: Aerobic and Anaerobic
Aerobic exercise burns a lot of calories by increasing heart rate and oxygen intake. This type of movement uses large muscle groups.
Examples include, jogging, biking, swimming, rowing, and all active sports. Anaerobic exercise develops strength and flexibility. Examples include weight training and yoga. I highly recommend yoga for people in recovery.
Keep yourself hydrated, drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily. (i.e. if you weigh 160 pounds you should drink 80 ounces of water a day)
Exercise, especially when learning an unfamiliar physical activity creates new synaptic connections (neuropathways) so desperately needed in the brains of recovering people.
3) Sleep: Almost all people in early recovery experience problems sleeping. A good nights sleep is needed for the body to repair and detoxify itself. Sleep gives the brain time to replenish its’ neurotransmitters, endorphins and hormones. Lack of a good sleep causes depression, anxiety and restlessness, all triggers
for relapse. Also lack of good sleep weakens the immune system and impairs memory.
Tips for sleeping soundly:
-Don’t eat a large meal before going to bed. Wait at least two hours after eating.
-Have your room quiet, dark and the temperature cool.
-Develop a peaceful bedtime routine. Listen to soft music or read something light.
-Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex only. Drink chamomile tea or warm milk before going to bed.
-Take slow deep breaths and relax your body starting from the toes and work up. Close your eyes and visualize something peaceful and calming.
-If you can’t sleep or wake up in the middle of sleep, don’t stress about it, concentrate on relaxing as opposed to sleeping.
– Prescription drugs and supplements should only be taken with the advise of a medical doctor who is aware of any addiction problems you have.
Good nutrition and proper exercise will aid in a restful night of sleep. The three amigos: nutrition, exercise
and sleep all go together.
By Larry Smith