Being in recovery from addiction requires you to make major changes to your life if you want to remain recovered. Building an entirely new mindset is much easier said than done.
Changing your mindset can be made easier by becoming more mindful – that is, learning not to associate so heavily with your thoughts and staying aware and present in each moment. The foundation for practicing mindfulness is building a daily meditation practice.
Mindfulness has proven to bring many therapeutic effects to those who practice it in their daily lives. Some of the benefits that are particularly relevant to those in recovery from an addiction include:
- Reducing feelings of anxiety, depression, helplessness, and stress
- A clearer mind and increased ability to focus
- Enhanced ability to regulate emotions and increase self-compassion
The benefits are strongest when you’re able to incorporate elements of being mindful into your daily life. Below are a few ideas of how you can do this:
Pray and/or Meditate
Especially if you’ve completed a twelve-step recovery program, you know how important it is to connect to a higher power through prayer. Meditation is similar in a lot of ways and is a great complementary tool to allow you to connect more deeply to yourself.
Set aside a few minutes each day to pray or meditate (or ideally do both). If you’re new to meditation and need a bit of help getting started, download a smartphone app like Headspace or Calm or look for mindfulness meditations on YouTube. Just ten minutes a day is all you need to start seeing progress.
Move Your Body
Yoga is a great choice as many yoga classes have a bit of a meditation aspect built in, but it’s not your only option. You can head to the gym or simply take a walk or jog around the neighborhood – your options are endless.
While you’re exercising, though, pay attention to your body and the way it feels. If you’re going for a walk or a run, take the headphones out of your ears and listen to the rhythm of your breath and the feeling of your feet as they hit the ground. If you’re lifting weights, place your attention on the muscles you’re working and the feeling of them contracting with each exercise.
Practicing mindfulness during a workout can make it more effective and decrease your chances of injury.
Each meal is another opportunity for you to practice bringing your attention into the present and fully enjoying the moment. By eating mindfully – paying attention to the flavors and the nutrition in each bite you take – you can also experience weight loss, absorb more vitamins, and enjoy your food a bit more.
Check out this exercise for practicing mindful eating.