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this image appeared in my FB feed today and it made me laugh in the context of my post yesterday…

I was re-reading one of my favourite ‘everything you need to know about sobriety’ posts recently – this one, by Patrick at spiritualriver. what I keep coming back to is his statement that the three most effective strategies in recovery are reaching out to help others, gratitude and exercise.

a question for you to think about if you have some sober time under your belt – if you had to choose another three strategies to add to the above, what would they be?

I like the definition of strategy as a plan of action designed to meet a long-term or overall aim.

so a strategy involves an action, not just a thought….

I would say my other three strategies would be:

  • asking others for help
  • documenting the process – both to work out what is happening, and to be able to re-visit one’s conclusions
  • exercising self-compassion

if you are just starting out on the recovery path, in what way could you actively incorporate any of these six strategies into your life, today?

why is exercise so important in recovery? well, the title of this blog post is a definition of exercise from Kelly McGonigal’s great book, The Willpower Instinct, which I’ve quoted from previously on this blog. in the book she lays out both the short and longer-term benefits of exercise on the brain – I’m paraphrasing slightly here:

‘Exercise turns out to be the closest thing to a wonder drug that self-control scientists have discovered. The willpower benefits of exercise are immediate. Fifteen minutes on a treadmill reduces cravings, but the the long-term effect are even more impressive. It not only relieves ordinary, every-day stress, but it’s as powerful an anti-depressant as Prozac. Working out also enhances the biology of self-control by increasing baseline heart-rate variability and training the brain. When neuroscientists have peered inside the brains of new exercisers, they have seen increases in both grey matter – brain cells – and white matter, the insulation on brain cells that helps them communicate quickly and efficiently with each other. Physical exercise – like meditation – makes your brain bigger and faster, and the pre-frontal cortex shows the largest training effect.’

so incorporating almost any form of additional activity into our day can give a huge physiological boost to our recovery. whatever your physical fitness level – whatever more you can do – consider being super-kind to yourself and adding even a small dose of the best drug in the world to your recovery programme! Prim xx

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