Summer is knocking on the door, and most people are welcoming the uplifting season with open arms. The winter months are especially trying for some individuals working programs of addiction recovery; rain, snow, and cold weather are not conducive to warm feelings and thoughts, generally. If you also consider that a large percentage of men and women in the program struggle with a co-occurring disorder like depression, then you can probably understand that chillier months may contribute to dampening the spirits of some.
A good many people’s general outlook on life and feelings of worth seem inextricably linked to the weather. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD, a fitting acronym) is a condition that plagues a significant population; SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons which usually manifests between fall and spring. Naturally, those living with the disorder are likely to fare better in the Southwest; but, for those individuals residing in higher latitude environs, coping with the depressive snowdrifts of the soul during winter is a chore.
Those working programs of recovery whose psyche is sensitive to the weather must take measures to protect their recovery from fall to spring. Men and women who know that their feelings are susceptible to less hospitable climes must go above and beyond during the winter months to prevent relapse. Some of the tactics people employ to stay ahead of their seasonal depression are exercising, light therapy, psychological support via the program and professionally, and taking vitamin D. If you find it difficult, and potentially on the precipice of relapse when sunlight-deprived, it’s paramount to utilize some the above methods. At PACE, we are hopeful that recovering addicts and alcoholics were able to keep their SAD at bay this winter.
180° for Addiction Recovery
If your first year in recovery traversed the 2017/2018 winter and you found yourself struggling to keep afloat, it’s possible that you were not aware of techniques that could’ve helped. Perhaps the best way to prepare yourself for the many more cold seasons to come is taking a proactive approach during summer. Establishing a routine during this time of year will make life easier in 6 months. It’s worth noting that when you are feeling “down” it is difficult to motivate yourself, depressive symptoms beget depressive inaction. However, those feeling blue that get up and take a walk, exercise, and absorb available sunlight end up experiencing feelings of higher self-worth.
The weather is more approachable, now, and people in recovery will find it helpful to get outside and seize the day. Get outdoors as often as possible, exercise regularly, and eat foods conducive to a healthy mind and body. Did you know research shows that vitamin D along with marine omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are critical for serotonin synthesis, release, and function in the brain? People recovering from a use disorder and co-occurring psychological conditions can benefit from incorporating the above supplements into their dietary regimen. Since more than half of people managing an alcohol or substance use disorder also have a dual diagnosis, it’s fair to say that a good many people will find vitamin D and omega-3 useful to long-term recovery.
Before you make any significant changes to diet, first please discuss it with your physician and therapists. Anyone looking to be more active should also consider any physical limitations they may have before doing anything drastic.
Physical and Spiritual Fitness
Even if you are unable to hit the gym and weight train or commence doing cardiovascular exercises you can still do things to promote physical and spiritual wellness. Merely sitting outside with a book for a few hours or going for a swim can significantly improve how you feel, both inside and out. The more active you are during the summer months makes managing your anxieties and depressive symptoms next winter. The smallest of changes can produce essential benefits; when you encounter undesirable feelings next January, you’ll discover that you have tools to counter malaise.
It helps to look at addiction recovery as an agreement between mind, body, and spirit. The health of one affects the wellbeing of the other two; keeping active in the program and life, and with the aid of a healthy diet, is a recipe for long-term recovery. We encourage clients at PACE Recovery Center to place great stock in the physical and spiritual connection. Those who adopt healthier approaches are more likely to stay the course and make continual progress. We hope that anyone working a program takes advantage of the summer months to strengthen their recovery.
At PACE Recovery Center, we can help you or a loved one learn how to navigate life without resorting to drug and alcohol to cope. Our highly qualified team of addiction professionals also address clients’ co-occurring mental health disorders and provide tools for coping with one’s symptoms. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs.