Posts

Supportive Environments: Growth Occurs in a Fertile Garden

A rose grows best in a healthy garden. Provided with adequate, yet not overbearing, amounts of sunlight and water and fertile soil, a rose can blossom to its full potential. In a similar manner, when we are in recovery, we grow to our full potential within a supportive environment. We can become our best selves when we are nurtured with a sense of community and belonging. We thrive within stable and predictable structures. Much like a healthy garden, our environment can determine our potential for growth and change in recovery. Some of us may not have the proper resources for recovery in our current or past home environments. You may have attended short-term recovery programs for only a week or two, then returned prematurely to an unstable home life. The instability, lack of support and structure, and overall feeling of chaos may have led you right back to engaging in your past addictive behaviors.

The Revolving Doors of Treatment

Short-term recovery programs sometimes operate as if they have “revolving doors.” People go into treatment, live a sober life for a few days, feel confident in their recovery, go home, and then find themselves seeking help again only a few weeks later. What happens? Often, we do not have the resources at home to maintain our recovery. We might live with loved ones, who care for us but enable our behaviors. We could live in an area where access to our means of addiction—such as living near a local bar—is readily available. Living in unhealthy environments can lead to us feeling triggered and we can relapse. Then, the cycle of the revolving door treatment begins.

While short-term treatment programs have the best intentions, they may not always provide the adequate length of time necessary for us to change our behaviors. Humans are considered by many people to be “creatures of habit.” We thrive on routines and tend to resist change. Change, for many people, may seem scary. Even change for the better can open the door for more challenges that we may not be ready for. Short-term care may help us find some coping skills or tools to help us manage our addictions. However, if we are returning to an environment that triggers our unhealthy habits before we have had time to develop a truly healthy mindset, we may be doomed to fail and find ourselves going back into the revolving door treatment.

Healthy Environments for Recovery: The 5 Pillars of Recovery

What constitutes a healthy environment for recovery? Mainly, a safe and comfortable home that encompasses these five pillars of recovery:

  • Accountability
    • We need to be held accountable for our actions in order to change for the better. Sometimes, in our homes, we are not held accountable by our loved ones. Though they care for us, they may unintentionally enable our unhealthy habits.
  • Support
    • A healthy environment is made of both the place and the people. Finding support among peers, who are struggling with similar issues, will help you recover. They will understand what you are going through in a way that other individuals in your life may not.
  • Structure
    • Some of us may live in chaotic environments with a lack of routine or structure. We may not have the skills to build a routine and find ourselves lost throughout the day. Healthy environments are structured and predictable. We may struggle at first with healthy routines. However, as time passes, we can adjust and learn how to put more structure into our lives.
  • Community
    • A sense of having a connection with others who are striving toward common goals can help us feel a sense of belonging. Healthy environments help us feel like we are accepted for who we are. Having common goals with those in our immediate environment can help us find support in achieving our goals.
  • Purpose
    • Being in an environment that encourages us to find or to live out our purpose in life can set us on the right track to recovery. When we are surrounded by positive and encouraging people for adequate lengths of time, we can find a new way of looking at life.

Time For Change

Learning new behaviors takes time. A healthy environment for recovery treatment will allow for longer exposure to a supportive and structured space. Often, short-term recovery programs do not provide us with enough time to learn new skills or build resilience. Without building resilience and taking the necessary time to change our mindset, we may be unprepared to face our unhealthy environments and become tempted to utilize our negative coping skills. By spending time at a long-term treatment program or a sober living home, we will likely have an adequate amount of time to acclimate to our newly found sense of hope in recovery.

 

Have you been struggling with relapse due to “revolving door” treatment programs? Is your home environment enabling your unhealthy habits and behaviors? Have you learned healthy ways of living during a week-long recovery program only to find yourself falling back to your unhealthy habits? You may not have had enough time to learn new habits and skills. Learning how to recover from addictions and how to live a healthy lifestyle takes time. You are unlikely to master the skills necessary to maintain sobriety for a lifetime in a short-term treatment program. Camelback Recovery believes that recovery habits need to be fostered in a safe and supportive environment over a long period of time. We use the five pillars of recovery to teach you how to cope with life outside of treatment. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 for more information on how we can you or a loved one recover from addictions.

How Can Going to the Gym Help My Recovery from Addiction?

Many treatment facilities and sober living homes have been emphasizing the importance of physical health in sobriety. Some, like Camelback Recovery, even offer gym memberships to those attending their programs. What does exercise and going to the gym have to do with recovery from addictions? If addiction is rooted in the brain, how can physical activities help? Why are so many programs encouraging fitness in treatment? 

Addiction can be treated with holistic approaches, which involve both our physical and mental health. Holistic approaches are treatment methods and health habits that include strengthening the mind-body connection. We can help our minds recover by focusing on our physical health as well. During addiction, we may have allowed our physical health needs to fall by the wayside. We may have neglected healthy eating and exercise habits. Our physical health can impact how we feel and can play an essential role in our emotional regulation. 

Releasing “Feel Good” Chemicals

Exercise can help us manage anxiety and depression by burning off excess energy and releasing “feel good” chemicals in our brains. These chemicals are released in our minds when we do any physically exerting task. The “feel good” chemicals help us get through challenging physical exercise by rewarding us with good feelings in our minds. We may have used alcohol or other substances to release these chemicals artificially. However, alcohol, substances, or other addictions only provide temporary relief at a substantial cost to our overall physical health. The root cause of addiction may be an underlying issue with anxiety or depression (or both). By exercising or going to the gym during recovery, we can help to address this underlying issue by introducing a healthy habit into our lives.

Building Self-Esteem and Confidence

Exercising can provide us with challenges that we can use to boost our self-esteem and confidence. We can set goals in the gym and see the results as we watch our bodies change and grow stronger. When we accomplish goals or other physical achievements, we can notice a change to our mindset as we begin to believe in ourselves. We may be surprised at what we can accomplish in the gym! This confidence can carry over into other areas of our lives. If we can regularly tackle a challenge in the gym, we may feel more confident dealing with other obstacles on our path to recovery. 

Tips for Success in Exercise and Gyms

When we go to the gym, we may jump into the activity quickly and burn out within a few weeks. This can happen to a lot of people both in and out of recovery treatment. Gym memberships and attendance tend to spike following the New Year’s holiday, as people make vague health resolutions. As weeks go on, attendance drops as people fail to commit to their resolutions and new-found goals. Often, these people are unprepared for the commitment of building a weekly routine for their exercise goals. They also may not be prepared for the length of time required to form new habits and give up before giving themselves an appropriate amount of time to change. Here are some tips that we can use to be more successful in maintaining our exercise and gym routines:

  • Create a playlist of songs we enjoy. Music can help us focus on our exercise routines by cutting out other background noises that can be distracting. Music can also boost our mood or make us feel good or powerful! We might even find that we enjoy going to the gym as a time to listen to our favorite songs.
  • Pick the right time. Many people think that we have to work out in the mornings to get the best results. The truth is that the best time to exercise is whenever we are exercising! Finding a time that will work best for ourselves will help us stick to our new habits. For some people, this is before or after work. Others may have extended lunch breaks and can exercise at this time.
  • Go with a partner. Starting a new workout routine can be challenging to do alone. We might know someone else interested in our new goal. Our gym partner can help to support us and keep us motivated. They can also help to hold us accountable.
  • Set a goal. Our goals to exercise can be simple. We may want to keep a number in mind to help us stick to the plan. Our goal can be something like, “I will run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, three times per week.” Another goal may be, “I will complete a weight lifting routine four times per week.” (Bonus tip: when starting with exercise, set a goal around building the routine and not losing a specific amount of body weight, running a certain speed or benching pressing a set amount of weight.) As we build the habit of going to the gym or routine exercise, we can then start to work towards those other goals. Keep it simple at first!)

 

Physical health and wellness can go a long way in our recovery. We can open the door to forming new healthy habits, building new friendships, and building our self-confidence by exercising regularly. Many recovery treatment facilities and sober living homes emphasize the importance of maintaining our physical health needs as we form healthy habits during recovery. Addiction can take a tremendous toll on our physical selves. We may have gained weight or lost strength due to our bad habits. We may get winded easily and struggle to get through the day. By building up our physical selves, we can be strong to face the daily challenges of recovery! Camelback Recovery understands the critical role that healthy eating and exercise can play in addiction treatment. Call us at (602) 466-9880 to discuss how our sober living programs can help you with your whole-health needs!

Discovering Purpose: Why Are We Here?

An important aspect of being successful in your recovery experience is discovering your purpose. Your purpose drives you toward your life goals and can help to push you through challenging times. When we live a life of purpose, we feel connected to something beyond ourselves. “Purpose” is one of the pillars of recovery in many treatment programs. Without having a purpose in life, we may feel lost or we may easily stray from our recovery pathway. Having a purpose can give us a reason to wake each morning and face the challenges of the day. Some of us in recovery may have never thought about our life purpose in life. We may not know what we are looking for in life, as we may have been living day by day while dealing with our addictions. Working on discovering your purpose can take some time, as you need to think deeply about your life and what you truly value.

6 Tips for Discovering Your Purpose

If finding a purpose is new to you, here are some tips to help you discover your purpose in life:

  • Help Others: Volunteering can help you find your purpose in life. You may have a unique skill that can benefit others. You can even help your peers in recovery. Volunteering regularly can help you build relationships and connections with others. You may then discover a purpose as people come to value your help and your contributions.


  • Spend Time with Uplifting and Positive People: Start spending more time with people who inspire you or who make you feel good. If you find yourself spending a lot of time with negative people, who often weigh you down with their troubles or tell you that you cannot achieve your goals, you may want to spend less time with them. Uplifting and positive people can help you maintain the positive mindset needed to discover your passions and your purpose.


  • Explore Your Interests: How do you spend your free time? Do you watch specific types of television shows that might indicate an interest of yours? What things do you like to learn about? Start to explore the things that interest you. These could be new hobbies or new places to travel. Maybe you want to learn an instrument or take up yoga. Try something new to expose yourself to new experiences.


  • Thinking Back to Our Childhood: When we were children, most of us had an idea of what we wanted to be when we grew up. Your childhood dreams might still be attainable. Try to think back on those times and see if those things still excite you.


  • List Your Heroes: Who do you admire? These could be fictional characters or real people. They could be people you know or they could be people you have only heard about in the media. Think about who you admire and why you admire them. We often admire people who have characteristics we would like to have ourselves. Knowing these characteristics might help you understand what you value and can direct you toward your purpose.


Making Sense of Your Purpose

Sometimes, we get caught up in specific details when we look for purpose in life. We may have the idea that only one or two specific things will make us happy and fulfilled. You may find it helpful to simplify your life’s purpose into one or two sentences. To simplify your purpose, you need to look at the underlying motivation for your actions. For example, if you wanted to be a fireman when you grew up, you might consider connecting with a local fire company to volunteer. If your community may not have any opportunities available, you can consider your fundamental motivations. Why did you want to be a fireman? Did you want to help people? Did you like the sense of adventure? Figuring out why you are passionate about something can help guide you to your life’s purpose. Understanding what you truly love about a hobby or an interest can point you in the direction of more things that you may find fulfilling. Knowing what you care about—or who you care about—can also help you focus on being the best version of yourself. Keep in mind that finding purpose is a process. Be flexible and open to the multitude of avenues presented to you as you discover your purpose. Overall, having a purpose will help you in recovery because you will contribute to something greater than yourself. 

 

Discovering your life’s purpose can be a rewarding exercise unto itself. Open yourself up to the process of understanding your passions and the things you care about. Engage in this process as you work on your recovery. Once you know your purpose, you will have something to strive toward to make the world a better place. You will be able to focus on your recovery, as you will best serve others when you have first helped yourself. At Camelback Recovery, we believe that having purpose is one of the pillars of recovery. We teach our clients about our five pillars of recovery: accountability, support, structure, community, and purpose. We believe these pillars are fundamental to the recovery process. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 to begin your recovery journey!

How Is Technology Helping Those in Addiction Recovery?

Advances in technology have impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. For those of us struggling with addiction, technology has helped us in many ways, like providing assessments, finding services, gaining information, and maintaining support. While many of these advances are helpful, some negative consequences, like cell phone addiction, have been commonplace. The key is to find a balance to gain benefits and minimize unintended consequences. We need to be cautious and verify information found on the internet. We also could become addicted to cell phones or other devices.

Access to Self-Assessments

Some people may be unsure of what their underlying issues may be. They may feel confused or misinformed about their behaviors and thoughts. Online, there are hundreds of mental health and addiction assessments available for people to take. Self-assessments are relatively quick and easy to complete. While they may not provide a comprehensive evaluation, self-assessments can help people narrow down some of their issues and can point people in the right direction towards getting help. We must also be sure to verify with our doctor or a medical professional about any problems uncovered during an online self-assessment. A self-assessment is not a diagnosis; however, self-assessments can help us open up a conversation with professionals to begin finding appropriate help.

Finding Services and Treatment Facilities

The internet has provided an easy way for people to search for services when they need help. Searching the web can help us find treatment facilities or out-patient clinics in our area. We can also find support groups in our community by completing an online search. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have a substantial online presence, which can help us find 12-Step programs in our communities. Treatment facilities and sober living homes, like Camelback Recovery, have been using technology and social media to spread their message of recovery and hope to those in need.

Access to Knowledge and Information

When in recovery, we may struggle with a specific issue and can benefit from more knowledge on the topic. Online magazines and blogs can provide a wealth of information ranging from tips on remaining sober to information on treatment facilities. We might find information on cooking healthy meals, exercise routines, yoga practices, mindfulness exercises, and other activities that we can engage in to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some apps offer entire exercise plans and even meal plans to help us. Unfortunately, we also have to be mindful of misinformation. Due to the ease of posting information online, people may post things that are not true or even harmful. Be sure to review the source of your information carefully to see if the information is valid. Sources from trusted publications or government websites are often more reputable than online forums, where anyone can freely post whatever they want–accurate or not!

Maintain Support During Lockdowns and Restrictions

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in our world. The disruption in our lives and routines has left many of us struggling with our mental health. While under lockdowns or other social restrictions, many of us felt alone and had a difficult time maintaining a support system. Technology has helped many people continue getting the support they needed during lockdowns. Apps, like Zoom and Facetime, allowed for people to continue meeting with their counselors or engaging in group therapy sessions. They also helped people maintain contact with family members and other supports. Telehealth sessions have become popular for medical appointments and screenings to provide help while minimizing contact in public spaces.

Issues Arising from Technology

Technology also has some negative consequences. Some people find themselves addicted to their phones or feel anxious to stay up to date with social media continually. Push notifications can be intrusive and disruptive to our daily lives. When entering treatment, cell phones might be a distraction to those who need to focus on their recovery. Many apps have been developed to help people curb their cell phone usage by limiting the number of times social media apps are opened or limiting our daily screen time. We can look at our phone usage in our setting menu to get an idea of which apps dominate our time on cell phones. People in recovery from addiction are also prone to cell phone addiction. They may replace their drinking or drug habits with excessive phone usage. Finding healthy habits, like exercise and healthy eating, can replace our bad habits more effectively. When we engage in recovery, we find healthy ways of living that can help us resist replacing our practices with other addictive behaviors.

 

Technology can be a handy tool for those in recovery. We can find services, information, support systems, or self-assessments online. We can also use technology to maintain contact with our support system and medical professionals when direct connection is not an option. Some issues can arise from the use of technology, like cell phone addiction or misinformation. We must be careful to find information from trustworthy sources. We also should be mindful of our usage on devices, as they may distract us from sobriety and from living our lives. Camelback Recovery has been using technology and social media to provide information for those suffering from addiction. We have a social media presence to spread our message to others in need. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 for more information about our sober living homes!

Structure and Routine: Pillars of Recovery

Building a routine is a key component of many recovery programs, and establishing structure is considered an important pillar in the recovery process. For some of us at the beginning stages of our recovery, we may be missing structure in our lives. When we lack structure, we may feel that life is chaotic and unpredictable. If we feel this way, our recovery may take a backseat, as we are merely trying to navigate through the chaos of our daily lives. We may feel that we have little control over our daily lives if we are not adhering to a structure or a routine. Many recovery treatment programs and sober living homes can help you build a routine outside of treatment. These treatment programs often have structured activities and expectations to help get you on the right path and regain control of your day.

Routines: We Are Creatures of Habit

Most of us follow some sort of habitual routine. Human beings tend to be “creatures of habit.” Our bodies function optimally when we fall asleep and wake up around the same time each day. We generally eat three meals a day, and many of us have days that are structured similarly by going to work. Establishing routines help us to accomplish our daily tasks with less resistance. When we have a routine, we know what to expect each day and feel more in control of our lives. We can benefit from re-examining our daily structure every once in a while to form healthier and more efficient daily routines. We can learn how to be more proactive in our planning and scheduling; this enables us to find more time for fulfilling activities. Some of our addictive behaviors may be triggered by boredom; structure helps us to stay focused and occupied.

Scheduling for Mental Health and Stability

We may fantasize about having no obligations: free days with no expectations or things to do; days with no schedule to maintain, where we can do as we please. While this may be a pleasant thought when we feel overwhelmed, creating a schedule can help us find the structure we need to overcome the chaos in our lives. When we are in a daily routine of only going to work, coming home to watch TV, and then going to bed, we get lost in the humdrum of our lives. We may feel unfulfilled, yet feel unable to make any changes. Creating a schedule can help you build a healthy lifestyle for recovery. Some of our unhealthy habits occur due to a lack of preparedness to fulfill some of our basic needs. 

Some of us may want to eat healthier meals, yet we feel like we do not have the time to prepare meals. We then microwave frozen foods or eat fast food, because we need to eat. We then feel like eating healthy is impossible. If we create a schedule to structure our eating habits, we can replace our unhealthy habits with healthy ones. We can start by scheduling a specific day of the week and a time to go grocery shopping. We can start planning meals weekly or by setting time aside to learn healthy recipes. Once we build these activities into our routine, we will be less tempted to make unhealthy choices at the last minute.

What about planning for fun? Some of us who are new to recovery, may resort to our addictive behaviors out of boredom. We may engage in unhealthy behaviors when we have nothing else planned during our free time. Structuring fun and fulfilling activities into our day can help us resist the temptation to go to the bar or to visit old friends, who trigger our old behaviors. By allocating time to engage in a new hobby or spending time with healthy people, we can curb our temptations to make unhealthy choices out of boredom or loneliness.

Structure for Recovery

Many recovery treatment programs may require that you schedule your day around activities and sessions conducive to your wellness. Often, long-term treatment programs and sober living programs have expectations that you maintain a routine during your stay. Having a structure will hold you accountable for participating in your recovery, and will make keeping appointments easier for you. By building a healthy and structured daily routine, you will find that the pathway to wellness will become easier. By having structure, you are being proactive and getting out ahead of your triggers before letting your day control you. By planning your daily routine, you are taking charge of your life and are taking a healthy step on the pathway to recovery. 

 

Many recovery programs and sober living homes have a daily structure, which you will be expected to adapt to. While this structure may feel restricting as you first engage in the program, you will likely find that having structure rids you of the uncertainty and anxiety that affects your day-to-day life. Structure is one of the key aspects of recovery. Learning to build a routine is a healthy habit that will help you minimize your temptations to engage in addictive behaviors. Camelback Recovery emphasizes building a routine and having structure during our recovery treatment program. We can teach you how to build a routine and alleviate the feeling of a chaotic lifestyle. Call us at (602) 466-9880 to get started with your recovery today.

Does the Food I Eat Affect My Mental Wellness?

We have often heard the phrase “you are what you eat,” but does the food we eat actually have that much of an impact on us? The short answer is “yes.” Eating healthy meals and choosing nutritional foods can have an impact on both our physical and mental health.

The mind and the body are connected and many wellness recovery programs emphasize the importance of the mind-body connection. The “mind-body connection” refers to the idea that our physical health can affect our mental health and that our mental health can affect our physical health.

The mind and the body relay messages to one another about how we feel. When we feel sick or ill, we tend to also feel “down” or “blue.” During physical exercise, our minds release a rush of “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins that improve our mood. The foods we eat impact our physical well-being, and, by the mind-body connection, impact our mental wellness.

Replacing Unhealthy Diets with Healthier Options

A large part of recovery is replacing our unhealthy habits with newer, healthier habits. While we may think of recovery as a means of just controlling or changing our addictions, recovery is more accurately described as the process of making healthy life changes.

For most of us in recovery, we may not have learned the best ways to care for ourselves. We may have neglected our physical health and mental well-being while engaging in self-destructive, addictive behaviors. Most 12-step programs and recovery treatment may only focus on addressing our addictions.

Programs like these can be incredibly beneficial components of our recovery treatment. However, recovery involves much more than addressing our addictions. Recovery is about changing our way of life to develop healthy habits that we can utilize for a lifetime.

Holistic approaches that incorporate ideas from the “mind-body connection” can greatly enhance your current treatment. Your diet is one of these areas that you might be overlooking.

What We Eat Can Affect How We Feel

Anything that we put into our bodies will have some effect on our minds and our moods. Some foods will make us feel hyper and lead to a crash, like foods that are high in sugar. A “sugar crash” can make us feel moody and depressed for a short time.

Foods with high amounts of calories can leave us feeling tired as our bodies digest the food. We might feel like we have less energy as our body needs to divert its attention to the process of digestion. Other foods can affect our gastrointestinal systems, giving us heartburn or leaving us feeling bloated.

Those of us who experience heartburn may have a difficult time sleeping due to the painful sensations in our bodies. When our sleep is affected, our moods can become negatively impacted. We may feel tired and irritable throughout the next day.

Some foods, while leaving us feeling full and satiated, may not provide the nutritional content that we need to feel our best. Many people have deficiencies in certain minerals or vitamins that can alter the way that they feel. If we are experiencing any co-occurring mental health disorders while in recovery, we might benefit from checking with our doctors about any underlying medical issues that may be increasing our symptoms.

Some doctors might recommend blood work to verify whether or not a vitamin deficiency can be affecting our moods and mental health. Our doctors may even refer us to a nutrition specialist or dietician for ideas on how we can improve our eating habits. Doctors might also recommend dietary supplements to improve your mental health.

Making Small Improvements to Change Our Eating Habits

Healthy eating habits may be overwhelming for some of us to start. We may not know how to cook or what kinds of foods to eat. We can start by making some small improvements. For example, if someone is experiencing difficulty sleeping and they drink sugary sodas before going to bed, they might benefit from drinking water or some other sugarless, decaffeinated beverage later at night.

If someone eats a lot of fast foods because they feel rushed, they can ask for water instead of soda and resist the urge to “super-size” their meal. Sometimes, we do not eat enough during our busy days and then overeat later at night with unhealthy snacks.

We can plan for our day by packing healthy snacks, like dried fruits or nuts, to keep us from getting too hungry throughout the day. Overall, making some small changes with our eating habits can have a big impact on our daily lives. Take time today to consider your eating habits and how they might be affecting your mental health and well-being.

New research is coming out to highlight the effects of nutrition on our mental health. During our busy lives, we may feel too pressed for time to plan for healthy meals. We may be overlooking our eating habits and not prioritizing meal planning. When we are not planning or considering the importance of our diets on our overall health, we may eat fast foods with low nutritional content. We might also neglect to eat well throughout the day, which can lead to overeating at the end of the day. When we feel hungry, yet rushed to eat, we might be consuming whatever is immediately available with little regard for the impact the food will have on us. Camelback Recovery understands the importance of replacing unhealthy eating habits with healthy ones to improve our overall health. We provide healthy foods for our participants and even help with cooking meals. We believe that healthy eating habits are just one of the many ways to achieve the healthy lifestyle you may be seeking in recovery from addictive behaviors. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 to speak with our staff about our treatment program.

 

What Are Some Self-Care Activities That I Can Do for Recovery?

Self-care in recovery refers to activities that can help you improve your mental and physical health. Self-care activities are completed with the sole intention of doing something for yourself. For many in recovery from addictive behaviors, you may not know the value of scheduling activities that are meant to decrease your anxiety or just do things to make you feel good.

While you may be using your addictive behaviors as a way of treating yourself, self-care activities do not take away from your recovery. While you might engage in addictive behaviors thinking that they will help you feel good, addictions have detrimental short-term and long-term effects on you.

Addictive behaviors, like sexual addiction or drug and alcohol addictions, may have been a negative coping skill that you used to manage stress or relieve feelings of depression. However, your addictions may have left you feeling guilty or shameful afterward. They also may have been negatively impacting your physical well-being.

Self-care activities are activities that are rewarding and meaningful to you. Unlike addictive behaviors, self-care activities are completed to leave you feeling positive and healthy afterward. Self-care involves doing things that will not negatively impact your mental and physical health.

You may have never learned to do healthy activities for the sole benefit of helping yourself. Self-care activities can range from simple acts of maintaining your hygiene to learning new activities. The purpose of self-care is to act with intention and to be aware that you are completing a task or engaging in activity to do something just for your happiness.

When thinking of self-care activities keep the following three tips in mind:

  1. Plan the Activity: You may resort to negative coping skills when you do not plan an activity for your health and well-being. You might fall back to bad habits when you have not scheduled time for yourself. Put the activity on a calendar or set a reminder on your phone.
  2. Do Something You Enjoy: You may be tempted to try something new that is challenging or something you feel others would want you to do. Although some of your goals may be in line with self-activities, self-care is primarily meant for your enjoyment. You do not need to set a goal or an expectation. The point is to do something that just makes you feel good.
  3. Keep It Simple: You do not need to invest a huge amount of time in your self-care activities. To give an idea of how much time you can spend, some recovery treatment programs encourage you to engage in self-care activities for at least five hours per week; this is less than one hour per day. Remember that you are the only person responsible for self-care. Just giving yourself a little bit of time each day can be a huge improvement in your overall wellness!

Common Self-Care Activities

Here is a list of examples of self-care to give you an idea of where to start. This list is by no means comprehensive. However, this can help you brainstorm to discover your activities:

  • Spending time outdoors
  • Spending time with a pet
  • Journaling
  • Reading a book or magazine
  • Yoga
  • Taking a short walk
  • Listening to music
  • Drawing
  • Completing hygiene tasks, like combing your hair or dressing well
  • Making your bed
  • Cooking a healthy meal for yourself
  • Gardening
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Meditation
  • Taking a nap
  • Taking a bath
  • Exercise
  • Adult coloring books
  • Cleaning your personal space

Forming Healthy Self-Care Habits in Recovery

The sole purpose of self-care is to take time for yourself and engage in a healthy activity. You may have formed the habit of engaging in negative and unhealthy activities to feel good in the past. Now is the time to replace those habits. Thinking of scheduling time for yourself as a way of being your own self-care coach.

You are telling yourself that you deserve to do something fun that makes you happy. You may feel like self-care is selfish or you may feel guilty taking time out of your day for your own benefit, but it is okay to take a break for yourself.

By scheduling this time for yourself, you are reinforcing the notion that you are important and deserve recovery. You are valuing yourself and caring for yourself in a way that only you can do. Remember that you are the best expert on what you need to do to be happy and healthy.

You alone know what best makes you feel good. You may have never learned the value of setting aside a few minutes to an hour each day just to do something you love. Permit yourself to engage in a self-care activity by starting today.

You are the best advocate for yourself. If you do not speak up for yourself, who else will? You may not have learned how to care for yourself. You may feel burdened by the needs of others or bogged down by the requirements of each day. Sometimes you might feel like you have no control at all over what you do every day. By scheduling a self-care activity for just a short amount of time each day, you can learn to value yourself and improve your mental health and well-being. Take time to engage in a healthy activity that makes you happy! At Camelback Recovery we encourage our participants to engage in self-care activities for at least five hours each week. Call us to begin your path to health and wellness today at (602) 466-9880.

 

How Can Making My Bed Impact My Day?

Having a sense of structure is one of the pillars of recovery that many treatment programs can teach you. Structure means that you know what to expect from your daily schedule, your relationships, and your environment. Your daily routine can set up the structure of your day and give you a sense of stability.

Routines can help you alleviate anxiety, since you will know what to expect during your day. For many of us, our routine begins in the morning with the simple act of making our bed. Can making your bed each morning have a profound impact on your day?

Building Positive Momentum

You have most likely heard the famous Chinese proverb along the lines of “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” How you start your day can build positive momentum to push you through the day’s tasks and challenges. Making your bed each morning can be the first item that you cross off your daily “to-do” list.

You can start each morning with one accomplishment before moving on to other tasks. Building momentum always begins with taking the initial step in a positive direction. Starting your day by creating a comfortable and neat personal space can set you up to make more positive decisions throughout your day.

When you are trying to build positive habits, you may find that starting small is the pathway to success. You might be overwhelmed when beginning recovery. Making changes can be hard for anyone. Many people find that they build momentum to achieving greater long term goals by starting off with completing smaller, simpler tasks.

If you feel that you are struggling with finding motivation, begin with setting a goal to make your bed each morning this week. You might be surprised how this one task can improve your motivation.

The Two-Minute Rule

The principle of the “two-minute rule” is similar to making your bed each morning. You are minimizing your expectations to finish one simple task with ease and without a huge time commitment. Making your bed tricks your brain because your expectations are not demanding.

Often, once you make your bed, you will feel better completing this task and will carry this momentum into your day. You start your day off with a positive chain reaction. Let’s explain the “two-minute rule” in more detail. When beginning a new habit or goal, some of us use the “two-minute rule.”

This rule can help you manage your expectations while setting new goals. When setting new goals, people often set their expectations too high and set themselves up for failure. To incorporate the “two-minute rule” into your routine, set the expectation that you will work on each of your goals for only two minutes at a time.

Similar to making your bed, this can set off a positive chain reaction to propel you forward in achieving new goals. For example, let’s say you want to work out each day. If you set your expectations too high, like working out for one hour each day, you might set yourself up for failure.

However, if you set your expectations lower, like exercising each day for at least two minutes, you trick your brain into starting because the demands are low. Often, getting started is the hardest part of any new habit and the “two-minute rule” tricks us into getting started with ease. Once you start engaging in a task, you will most likely find that you exceed your goal of two minutes.

The Importance of a Neat and Clean Environment

Making your bed is also one way that you can have control over the neatness of your immediate environment. When you begin recovery, you may feel like your life is chaotic and out of control. By making your bed, you have improved at least one thing in your home that can make you feel refreshed and in control.

Keeping a neat and clean home can also help you feel more relaxed. If you are looking around at a messy room or a disorganized home, you may feel anxious. You may find relaxing to be difficult, which will have a negative impact on your overall wellness.

Being able to come home to a nice, restful home is a gift that you can give yourself. Start today by simply making your bed. You will be surprised at the impact it has on your day.

Accountability is one of the pillars of recovery used by many treatment programs. By holding ourselves accountable, we put hard work into making ourselves better through the recovery process. Sometimes, we may feel like the work involved is insurmountable. Often, this is because we have set our expectations too high. By completing simple tasks like making our bed each morning and using the “two-minute rule,” we can build up the positive momentum we need to get through the rest of the day. Beginning your morning by completing one simple chore can have a profound and immediate impact on your mood and overall well-being. Setting up a welcoming and comfortable home environment will help you feel more relaxed and in control. At Camelback Recovery, we ask our participants to make their beds each morning as they begin a structured routine in daily recovery. We emphasize the importance of setting realistic expectations for positive growth and change. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 to begin your first steps to recovery!

 

Can Yoga Help Me Stay Sober?

Exercise is an excellent way for us to continue coping with our conditions during early recovery. Exercise can incorporate so many different things and take various forms. All of them can give you a health benefit and boost your mental health when you indulge in it. The kind of exercise we want to look at today is yoga, which has been a popular form of exercise for many years.

Yoga is an exercise of the mind and body, promoting physical posture, breathing techniques, and meditation/relaxation to help you control your body’s processes. There are many different kinds of yoga you can do. Some of them are more focused on relaxation and meditation, while others are more strenuous and challenging.

The most popular form of yoga in the United States is Hatha yoga, which is focused on three elements: physical poses, breathing techniques, and short periods of deep relaxation or meditation. But for those of us who deal with mental illnesses like anxiety or depression, yoga can be a great outlet. This activity can help calm our nerves and get our minds clear from whatever is plaguing them.

It has been widely known that yoga can help lower anxiety. Yoga appears to modulate stress responses in our bodies, which will decrease physiological arousal. This includes reducing a person’s heart rate, lowering their blood pressure, and easing respiration. All of these things can influence how a person is processing anxiety.

If our stress is causing us to struggle with early recovery, yoga can be a great way to get rid of those symptoms. Some studies also show that yoga can help increase heart rate variability, which is an indicator of how the body responds to different kinds of stress.

Beyond the Physical Benefits of Yoga

These are all physical benefits you can get from yoga, and they are incredibly valuable. But there are mental benefits as well. People who have experienced trauma can become introverted and develop bad habits. We may develop certain repetitive behaviors and thoughts and even experience a complete shutdown of our minds and bodies.

Because of the mentally interactive part of yoga, we can access the deeper parts of our brain, the more primitive parts, where we house these traumatic experiences. Yoga provides us with a way to face this emotional turmoil, and ultimately let it go. When done in the right environment with the right people, it can be a completely liberating experience for many of us.

Furthermore, it helps reduce stress in our brain overall. Because of the way that yoga changes and interacts with our stress response system, it can decrease the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in our bodies. Just as we let go of trauma, we also let go of the smaller stressors we have been holding. We let go of the assignment due tomorrow. We let go of the coworker who snapped at us today.

We allow ourselves to breathe and see the better parts of ourselves and life. Thus, we start to encourage our bodies to begin to recover. Many of the longer-held poses in yoga help us dial down the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response. This response is engaged when we are met with a stressful situation and begin to feel overwhelmed or like we can’t cope with it.

Space is created to allow a transition from fight-or-flight into relaxation. The parasympathetic nervous system – which is responsible for activating the relaxation response – can thrive and work the way it needs to.

Freedom Through Mental & Spiritual Wellness

The number of mental health benefits that come with yoga is vast and varied. It has become so popular around the world for a good reason, especially when you look at how many people deal with anxiety or depression. In our stressful world, it is crucial to find ways to exercise ourselves physically and mentally.

Yoga can teach you how to control your breathing, so that in those moments when your body begins to take off, you can use your breathing techniques to calm it down. Overall, it can provide you with a sensation of freedom, one that makes you feel rid of the burdens and weight you have been carrying for so long, or for so little.

It opens your mind and body to bliss and a feeling of freedom that can be hard to come by. For those of you who may not indulge because you want a more strenuous exercise, that’s fine. Still, we encourage you to try it as a form of meditation. You may find that it changes everything.

Recovery is a multi-faceted process and needs to incorporate every element of the human experience. Yoga is an excellent way to combine physical exercise with self-care and spirituality. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Sobriety is not as uncharted as it may seem. Through a holistic recovery program, you can heal spiritually, mentally, and physically – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober isn’t easy, but it can be an exciting period of your life, filled with transformational experiences and incredible growth.

If You’re in Recovery, You Need Sleep

We could all use more sleep — but for people in recovery, it’s especially important. Getting enough sleep is crucial to addiction recovery because it helps improve your overall physical and mental well-being. It does this by keeping your energy rate up, regulating blood pressure and blood sugar, combatting depression and anxiety, increasing motivation, and more. Maintaining a structured sleep schedule can help you stay committed to recovery.

The Effects of Poor Sleep on Recovery

Studies have found that sleep disturbances and a higher risk of relapse are linked among persons suffering from alcohol addiction. Being drunk before bed means you are less likely to have rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which helps the body recover from the previous day. Not having enough REM sleep puts you at risk for drinking or using more.

Not sleeping enough can actually shorten your lifespan. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night is recommended to maintain healthy sleeping habits. Sleep also affects your circadian rhythm, a process that helps your brain modify neurological activity at night so you can sleep more soundly and for longer periods of time. Substance abuse throws off this rhythm, even after you stop using.

For those who have just started recovery, insomnia — or difficulty sleeping — is frequently reported. Studies show that sleep disorders are five times more common in people who are in addiction recovery compared to the general population. This is especially true for alcoholics, as they tend to have more trouble sleeping than anyone.

Lack of sleep can cause emotional distress and instability, which could lead to relapse if not treated and cared for properly in a swift manner.

Sleep Disorders & Addiction Go Hand-In-Hand

Sleep disturbances caused by substance abuse (especially alcohol or opioids) are common. These disturbances can include trouble staying asleep, trouble falling asleep, and more. Yet it is recommended that sleep medications be avoided by addicts since they can be addictive.

Contraindications can also occur between the drugs or alcohol an individual may already be using. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a better solution for addicts in recovery, as it can help people get better sleep in place of sleep medication.

Sleep Heals the Body

The damage that addiction has on the body can be ruthless. Sleep helps heal this damage, giving you the proper tools for sobriety when you are awake. This is because sleep reduces stress, gives you the energy to stay motivated, stabilizes your mood, and helps you think rationally.

Sleep also heals the physical body. Tissue, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and sometimes even organs are able to heal when you sleep. The longer and more soundly you sleep, the more healing will take place.

Stages of the Sleep Cycle

Stage One

This lasts for several minutes as you transition from being awake to sleep. Brain waves, heartbeat, eye movements, and breathing slow down.

Stage Two

At this stage, light sleep moves into a deeper sleep. Muscles begin to relax, body temperature drops, and eye movement stops. This is the longest stage in the sleep cycle.

Stages Three & Four

To feel refreshed in the morning, both of these stages are required. Your heartbeat and breathing are at their lowest levels during this stage, and muscles are relaxed. Brain waves become even slower. It is difficult to be woken up during this stage.

REM Sleep

REM sleep occurs about ninety minutes after you fall asleep. Your eyes start moving rapidly behind your eyelids as your breathing increases and gets faster. Your muscles also become temporarily paralyzed. REM sleep is what keeps you from physically acting out your dreams.

Ways to Get Sleep When You Begin Recovery

Getting sleep when you first get clean can be incredibly difficult. These are some tips for getting sleep in those first nights.

Make Sure Your Sleep Environment Is Comfortable

Check to see if the bed is at the comfort level you prefer. Is it too hard or too soft? If so, adjust accordingly. Adjust the noise and darkness levels to your preference as well. Change the temperature if needed and make certain there is proper ventilation in the room.

Noise Problems

If there is a noise problem, consider using a white noise generator to help you sleep.

Sleep Schedule

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, including on the weekends, can help your body recover best. Your body heals as you sleep, so getting the proper amount is crucial.

Avoid Naps

To help maintain your sleep schedule, do not nap during the day. Naps can make you feel less tired in the evening, causing you to stay up later than you should.

Exercise Early

Only exercise early in the day. Avoiding exercise in the evening will help you get to sleep faster.

Keep a Record

Record your sleeping patterns, dreams, nightmares, etc. in a sleep journal. You can discuss these records with your counselor, sponsor, or others in recovery to see if others are experiencing the same concerns that you are.

Relaxation Techniques

Different relaxation techniques can help you get to sleep on those restless nights. These include progressive relaxation, visualization, breathing exercises, self-talk, recovery prayers, and more.

Your Bed

Your bed should be a place designating only for sleeping. This will train your body to feel sleepy when you get into bed each night.

Using and drinking affect your sleep, which in turn affects your recovery process. Making sure that you get enough sleep while you are recovering can make the difference in your success.

The specialists at Camelback Recovery can help you maintain a structured sleeping schedule at our various sober living homes located in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson. To learn how sleep can affect your recovery and if a sober living home is right for you, call us today at (602) 466-9880.