Four Healthy Ways to Unwind

Four Healthy Ways to Unwind

Yoga helps calm the mind and focus the thoughts without the use of drugs or alcohol

Many people turn to drugs or alcohol when they want to unwind, relax or de-stress. But using a substance for this purpose creates a new and more complex problem. Counting on a substance to do what the body should do naturally can lead to drug dependence and addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by drug seeking and use in spite of negative consequences. When the brain becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol for the feelings of relaxation and euphoria the drug produces, it can no longer do the work of helping the body relax on its own. When the brain no longer produces neurotransmitters like serotonin, a chemical directly associated with happiness, it relies on the drug of choice to trigger its production. Finding ways to relax apart from drugs and alcohol is the best way to prevent dependence on and addiction to drugs that create a false sense of well-being.

The following healthy ways to unwind can help prevent drug addiction and relapse during times of stress.

  1. Practice Yoga

The practice of yoga is a great way to find peace and serenity in your everyday life. Yoga helps calm the mind and focus the thoughts without the use of drugs or alcohol. The Mayo Clinic calls yoga, “a mind-body practice that combines stretching exercises, controlled breathing and relaxation. The core components of most types of yoga include poses and breathing. The poses are a series of movements that increase strength and flexibility as well as promote a relaxed state-of-mind. The breathing portion of yoga focuses on the control of what is considered the essence of life-breath. When a person is able to control this powerful force, it brings about a quieted mind.

Not only can yoga reduce stress and increase overall strength, it’s also beneficial in the management of chronic conditions. Yoga helps manage pain-causing conditions like arthritis and can reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

  1. Regular Exercise

Regular exercise has many proven health benefits, including stress reduction. According to a recent poll conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, seven out of ten adults in the United States report that stress and anxiety interfere to some degree with their daily lives. Exercise is known to produce endorphins, the brain chemicals that act as natural painkillers and improve natural sleep patterns. A life lived with less pain and quality sleep is a life with reduced stress levels. Regular exercise has also been shown to improve self-esteem, stabilize mood and alleviate tension throughout the body.

  1. Good Nutrition

Practicing good nutritional habits on a regular basis can curb cravings for drugs and alcohol. This is especially important for those who are in addiction recovery. During addiction, the body is often depleted of vital nutrients. Some recovering addicts also suffer from a state of malnutrition in the early stages of treatment.

But comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese, pizza and ice cream are loaded with sugar and fat. These simple sugars produce blood sugar highs and lows that can result in binge eating to stay satisfied. Fortifying your diet with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables helps boost antioxidant levels. These antioxidants work to fight disease and strengthen the immune system.

But the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also recommends keeping complex carbohydrates as part of your daily calorie intake. Foods like fiber-rich beans and legumes, sweet potatoes and sautéed veggies over rice stimulate stress-reducing chemicals and soothe anxiety without sapping energy levels.

  1. Meditation

Meditation is another activity that reduces stress without the need for drugs or alcohol. A few minutes in meditation each day can actually alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you or your loved one more resistant to stress. Meditation helps create a positive state-of-mind that can more easily identity and remove common stressors. Meditation can be as simple as moving back from your desk, sitting up straight, closing your eyes, taking deep breaths and repeating something positive until you feel calmer and more relaxed. Focus on your breathing and let anxious thoughts or distractions simply float away.

Finding Help for Anxiety, Stress and Addiction

Increased levels of anxiety and stress can increase your risk of developing addiction. Finding healthy ways to reduce stress and anxiety can prevent the development of dangerous and sometimes deadly habits. For some people, turning to drugs or alcohol during times of stress may seem like the answer. Finding ways to change your life and your response to anxiety is the best plan. If you or a loved one struggles with stress-related drug or alcohol addiction, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline available 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.