“Out with the old; in with the new.” This brilliant phrase has been apropos to many situations in life – especially for us in recovery from alcohol use disorder.
Think about it, what are we trying to accomplish with our recovery? We are saying “no” to the old way of life, and “yes” to a new vision and mission, a new path and journey… a journey that will lead us to a purposeful life full of promise and happiness where alcohol has no place. We do this by learning how to maintain balance through stress and uncertainty. By balance, I mean elevating our mood when we start to feel depressed and calming down when we feel overly excited or stressed. Therefore, let’s focus on spirit-lifting practices this week.
Spirit-lifting practices stimulate and ignite our energetic flow. Many of us already had some practices we used previously, but they aren’t practical in our current stay-at-home era. Things like going to our favorite women’s AA meeting, business meeting, class, book-club meeting and so on. While those will return eventually, we need to have alternatives for the here and now. That’s what we’re going to explore, and I want to separate them into three categories: physical, emotional and mental.
Physical: Stimulate the Body with Movement
Our mind, emotions and body function synergistically. In other words, if one part is lagging, it affects the others. Which is why it’s important that we start by stimulating the body with movement. Movement ignites our nervous system.
When we exercise, we change our brain chemistry, elevating mood. Endorphins are released, which attach to receptors in the brain that create a euphoric sense. Good news: it doesn’t have to be extremely strenuous, just consistent so scheduling a plan or routine for movement ensures it will get done.
For sure, it’s recommended to do both strength and cardio workouts throughout the week. Now, if you’ve not worked out in a while, it may feel overwhelming. Start small. There’s no hard-and-fast rule on WHAT you should do. Just do what you feel most comfortable with. For strength workouts, yoga is a great place to start using your own body weight. Otherwise, if you’re not sure how to start or what to do, Google search it, and order anything you might need such as exercise bands! You will find many wonderful video regimens for beginners that will be fun and help you feel great! For cardio workouts, go for a walk around the block. Increase the distance over time. Perhaps increase to an easy jog. Ride a bike, or, even better, dance! Put on your favorite music and enjoy the time with your family or loved one.
Emotional: Nurture the Heart with Self-Love and Connection
Like the endorphins in our body help with euphoria, how we feel about ourselves and any given situation also affects the physical. Typically, when we are content, our bodies reflect that. However, when we are sad, anxious or worried, it affects our sleep, appetite, immune system, and quite honestly most all body functions. This is why it’s important to help yourself with practices that will nurture your heart with self-love and connection.
My favorite way of doing this is by using daily self-affirmations. Self-affirmations will manifest what we say and believe, becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. I do this with “I AM…” statements, such as, “I AM strong. I AM a great mother…great wife…an awesome cook.” Start with “I AM…” and finish the statement in a positive way. Write down your statements and how they made you feel. Compounded over time, we reprogram our mind and emotions to think positively. It elevates self-esteem and self-worth and nurtures a mindset of success.
Avoid using an I AM statement with a negative descriptor. I’ve seen people posting in social media stating, “I AM a loser…weak…a failure.” While this might be how you feel, you can be honest from a positive perspective. Flip the negative to positive. Instead of saying, “I AM a loser,” say “I AM trying my best.” Instead of saying, “I AM weak,” say, “I AM getting stronger.” Instead of saying, “I AM a failure,” say “I AM not a quitter.” These statements will manifest into reality and before you know it, you will be saying, “I AM strong, a winner, successful, etc.”
Other ideas to elevate your emotional state are listen to music, sing your favorite songs, watch your favorite movies and laugh. Foster family connections with games, puzzles or movie night. Get a pet! We did. Animals bring so much love to a home.
Mental: Enrich the Mind
Ralph Waldo Emerson shares, “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, will never return to its original dimensions.” Our minds are powerful things. Our cognitive ability continues to grow based on how much we use it! What you feed it with will determine how it evolves. If you feed it with enlightening, wholesome, positive, encouraging information, it will become your best cheerleader. And there are so many podcasts, videos and articles to choose from, thanks to the Internet.
Some of my favorites include Brene Brown, Tara Brach, Malcolm Gladwell, Mark Hyman, Dissect Podcast and Ben Greenfield. Search for your favorite topic, genre, speaker or writer, and enrich your mind. Explore webinars and online summits.
During our addiction with alcohol use disorder, we often became numb and withdrawn blocking out years of intellectual stimulation. This is a perfect time to change course, and awaken our senses and mind with the richness of information available to us today.
Become Emotionally Fit
So, let’s take the time to create the emotional support we need and deserve. Let’s stimulate the body, cultivate self-love, and enrich our minds. In doing so, we will become stronger by the day, and more determined physically, emotionally and mentally, ensuring we will live a life that is purposeful, happy and alcohol free.