Recovery is a fragile time of transformation. As someone slowly heals from their addiction to drugs or alcohol and as the body finds its homeostasis, it’s easy for someone to become depressed or anxious. However, one’s mental health doesn’t have to go to diagnosable levels in order to feel the weight of not feeling well inside. The changes that recovery brings can stir things up emotionally and psychologically. Exercise can help prevent the difficulties and discomforts of depression and anxiety.
When someone has learned to rely upon drugs and alcohol for a period of time, it may be hard on that person to face life’s challenges without the use of substances as a coping tool. For instance, it’s common for men and women to turn to drugs or alcohol when they are experiencing stress, tension, pressure, anger, sadness, disappointment, loss, or another type of feeling. When they are feeling an emotion that they do not want to feel, it’s easy to turn to substances as an escape. Then, once that person has decided to get treatment and is moving through their recovery, those cravings for substances may reappear, especially when they are feeling those challenging emotions. For this reason, when a person continues through their recovery, he or she is vulnerable to anxiety and depression because they can no longer reach for substances to escape how they are feeling.
Exercise as a Preventative Tool
However, exercise is a great preventative tool. In fact, research shows that exercise can be just as effective for treating mild to moderate depression as an anti-depressant! And exercise does not come with a whole list of side effects. Instead, by moving the body on a regular basis, you can do the following for yourself:
- Increase neural growth in the brain
- Reduce inflammation
- Promote feelings of calm and well being
- Release endorphins and feel good
- Relieves tension
- Serves as a break from negative thinking
- Boosts physical and mental energy
- Improve concentration
- Increase memory
- Builds self esteem
- Improves sleep
- Strengthens resilience
Benefits of Exercise
These are some of the emotional and psychological benefits of exercise. With all of these benefits, you might see why doctors, therapists, and drug counselors are beginning to recommend exercise more and more. Furthermore, to get these benefits out of exercise, you don’t need to become a professional athlete. Just 30 minutes per day for five days a week can bring about these changes for someone. And if a person can’t find 30 minutes in their day, he or she might be able to exercise for two periods of 15 minutes or 3 periods of 10 minutes. Getting in at least 30 minutes, however, is the ideal amount of time for accessing these beneficial changes.
In 2010, the American Psychiatric Association recognized exercise as a viable form of treating depression. And it’s not only depression that exercise can help heal. Anxiety, emotional discomfort, and physical ailments are also relieved by exercise.
If you can find the time to move for 30 minutes a day, you’ll notice how better you will feel!