Why An Active Mind And Body Are Your Best Weapons Against Addiction
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Article Below By: Jackie Cortez
Ever heard the saying, “nature hates a vacuum?” It’s true. That’s why air rushes in to fill a sealed jar as soon as someone opens the lid. Your mind is like that jar, which is why exercise is essential to overcoming addiction. Here’s what we mean:
- People turn to drugs or alcohol because they feel empty inside. Their addictions promise to fill that awful, aching void with pleasure. Of course, the good feelings never last for long. So the person struggles to remove the addictive urges.
- The process of purging the mind, however, renews the sense of emptiness that led to the addiction in the first place. The temptation to repeat old behavior patterns starts to overwhelm the person, till he or she falls off the wagon.
- Achieving long-term sobriety requires filling the gap with something healthy and positive. That’s where physical activity come into the picture. Studies show regular exercise boosts self-esteem. These positive changes grow over time, like seeds in a garden blooming into flowers.
- This process creates a “virtuous cycle” in which the rewards of exercise become fixed in the mental landscape. The old addictive drives may struggle to regain control over the mind. But, when they do, they find there’s no room left for them to fill. The result is ongoing sobriety and a healthier, happier life for the person in recovery.
That’s an overall picture of how exercise helps those suffering from addiction. Here are some of the specific benefits physical activity offers these people:
- Increased strength and energy. Many persons become addicts because they feel weak or run-down. They find a substance that peps them up, but at a terrible cost. Exercise replaces their lethargy with vitality while avoiding the pitfalls of harmful stimulants.
- Reduced cravings. Studies show that exercise can lower the urge to abuse drugs or alcohol, making temptations easier to resist.
- Improved mood. Exercise releases brain chemicals called endorphins. These help to regulate feelings of well-being, providing a natural “high” that can last over the long term.
Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
Physical exercise is crucial for breaking the cycle of addiction. By itself, however, it can only do a limited amount of good. That’s why improving the mind as well as the body is important. This leads us to activities such as yoga, meditation, and other forms of mental training. Let’s take a look at what they offer.
Meditation: Being in the Moment
Mindfulness meditation teaches practitioners to pay attention to what’s happening all around them. You may think you’re already attentive to your environment; and, to some extent, you are. But most of us overlook hundreds of wonderful things during the course of an average day. When was the last time you watched the sun set, stared up into a star-filled evening sky, or savored the delightful crispness of an autumn breeze? Joy and beauty are all around us. Yet we close ourselves off to them. Meditation helps us attune our minds to the marvels we all too often ignore. It’s easy to see how this practice can benefit those in recovery.
Most westerners think of yoga as physical exercise. In reality, this ancient practice trains the mind as well as the body. It helps to reduce the harmful effects of stress, warding off sickness and promoting overall well-being.
Research shows that acupuncture helps to relieve the symptoms of addiction, especially in opiate addicts. It’s worth considering as a supplement to the other forms of therapy discussed in this article.
It’s All About the Journey
Recovering from addiction is a lifelong adventure. Achieving success takes hard work, discipline, and dedication. But the rewards outweigh the sacrifice; just ask anyone who has been in recovery for awhile. Best of luck as you strive towards a better you and a brighter tomorrow.
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