Within the community of addiction recovery, there are a lot of terms that are used to describe healing from our substance use. For example, sobriety refers to our abstinence from substances. We go through detoxification to cleanse our bodies of substances. Our treatment refers to that process, as well as the therapeutic, physical and spiritual treatment for our substance use. Recovery can refer to our entire journey from substance use to healing. But what does wellness mean?
Wellness in Recovery
Within our recovery, wellness refers to a wholesale change that occurs as we seek not only to become sober, but to live a healthy life mentally, physically, and spiritually. Wellness includes our ability to maintain our recovery independently and with purpose.
Wellness is far more than sobriety, or even simply restoring our physical health. It is a way of living an authentic life where we are fearlessly capable of managing our emotions. We are practicing skills and techniques which prevent relapse and which empower us to live autonomously with mental and emotional strength.
Our minds are typically the most impacted by substance use, so they also become the cornerstone of our search for wellness. We take back the control by healing the brain and the reward pathway step by step, day by day. There are many physical things we can do to affect the physiological healing, such as yoga, acupuncture, exercise, and more. Many of these things also help reduce cravings to give us more peace of mind in our recovery.
There are many therapeutic methods to help heal the thought processes in our heads. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT,) Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT,) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are all examples of methods that help us to heal from old pain and trauma as well as process old ways of thinking. However, their larger purpose is to give us new skills and new ways of thinking and functioning that, as we practice them daily, will lead to mental wellness.
There are other tools to help elevate our minds from the scars of substance use to empowering wellness. Mindfulness meditation, for example, is a way of training our minds to be present and non-judgmental. The more we practice it, the more elasticity we develop in our brains of being able to control where our thoughts go at any given time. This is particularly helpful as we work toward wellness in the mind.
Substance use can have many negative side effects on our bodies. While some conditions and side effects are unfortunately irreversible and may require extended medical treatment, many people are able to return to physical health with good diet and exercise. This requires removing poor habits and replacing them with good habits.
A person with physical wellness is someone who actively chooses not just healthy foods, but foods which are nutritional. Our bodies are often severely lacking in nutrients following substance use, so all of our dietary choices need to be more than just healthy. Likewise, healing practices like massage, acupuncture, and meditation contribute to physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
Exercise is key. Whether it is a physically demanding but non-impact or cardio form of exercising like yoga, or anything from walking to running, swimming to bicycling, or participating in sports, our bodies need the physical movement. Exercise can help to reverse some of the negative side effects of substance abuse in our bodies, and also contribute to our mental and spiritual wellness.
Spiritual and Emotional Wellness
There is a certain degree of structure to healing our minds and bodies, but to achieve spiritual and emotional wellness, we must look in the mirrors of our souls and be willing to strip down our beliefs and values and rebuild the person that we are. We use some of the same tools as with our mental healing, such as the various forms of therapy, mindfulness meditation, and even yoga. But when it comes to spiritual wellness, that is something that only we can define for ourselves.
Learning to control our emotions is something we can definitely learn and practice. With CBT, DBT, and ACT therapies, we practice valuable skills that allow us to react differently than we have in the past and give us greater control over our emotional responses. These skills, combined with the spiritual empowerment we find individually help us to become not only stronger and independent in our recovery, but also empowered and authentic to our values and core beliefs.
Why Wellness is Important
Wellness is a comprehensive healing of our minds, bodies, and souls. Achieving wellness is incredibly valuable in preventing relapse. The more grounded that we are in our healing process, the more tools we have to cope with cravings and emotions, the stronger we become in our recovery, the more vigilant we are to prevent a relapse.
Wellness is the constant commitment we have to our overall health and well-being. Wellness encompasses our mental, physical, and spiritual and emotional healing. Wellness is not just being in recovery, it is living and becoming our recovery. We can find our purpose and live authentically as we commit to our overall health and well-being. Wellness is rebuilding our lives to be able to unlock our full potential.
Start your own journey to find wellness. Heal your body, mind, and soul. Call AToN Center at (888) 535-1516 to make wholesale changes in your life and live with purpose.