February 14, 2012

Beefing Up Recovery with Exercise

kris_2Exercise can be crucial for recovery. Exercising daily has not only strengthened my body and given me confidence, but by adding a vigorous activity to my daily routine, it has also served as a valuable tool to release my mind from destructive thoughts. For me, exercise can mean many different things. Hiking, biking, walking, bowling, taking the dogs to the park or anything else that involves an activity where I am in motion is especially critical for me to maintain a healthy form of recovery.

While in rehab, we were shuttled to the gym five days a week. There is something magical and powerful about having healthy endorphins—which drugs could never provide—rush through your body as you strengthen and sculpt your muscles and work out your mind. The fact that the treatment center provided every opportunity for us to heal and thrive only proved to me that someone somewhere must have done some sort of study proving the benefits of exercise toward a lasting recovery.
Boredom is a very powerful stressor and stress is what often led me to drug use. Working out changed all that. I have found the gym to be a healthy and social environment. Social interaction is crucial for me. The gym is where I build relationships without the help of drugs or alcohol.
I had to separate from so many of my previous friends because they fueled my addiction. I was conditioned in a way that whenever I would see the people I used to use with, my brain seemed to release an endorphin that brought on an intense desire to use drugs. But at the gym, it is a whole different ball game. Being surrounded by health-conscious people is a supportive environment for my recovery and has become a very valuable tool in maintaining my recovery to this day.
Exercise provides an emotional sense of enjoyment for me; a personal satisfaction. I have gained a sense of self-worth and a better self-image that is reinforced by team encouragement and leadership while working and training with others. Exercise unites the mind, body and spirit by activating my will-power, motivation, desire, self-reliance and self-awareness. Gaining coordination over my thoughts, emotions and body generates a rewarding sense of self-satisfaction and mental strength. These are all the things needed to strengthen the foundations of my recovery.
I wish I had known earlier on in my life how fun and rewarding working out could be. How exercising and moving not only makes me smile and stay fit but can extend my life as well. I had no clue that so many of my life’s struggles could have been avoided had I just followed the lead of other healthier individuals. I chose not to because I thought I was invincible. But I guess that was to be my lesson. My body is not one to be challenged any further with toxic substance use. My mind is no longer to be wasted within clouds of smoke. Life is to be celebrated. My body represents life and my life is definitely worth living.

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