Something that I have noticed during my time in sobriety is that when some people get clean and sober they replace their drug or alcohol addiction with the gym. It becomes their only focus and they don’t really get involved in the program. Their goal is to look and feel better, and as wonderful as a notion as this is, it is usually not enough to keep them sober. What I have found in exercise is the ability to achieve a type of meditative state where I am completely present and able to be “in the moment“.
I do not say this to belittle the gym or exercise, in fact, I find it to be a very important part of sobriety, but simply that often times when we put the cart before the horse we lose the very thing that we are going after. Like any other activity or behavior in sobriety, it is important to find balance.
Sobriety in a sense is about balance, and it is about finding soundness of mind, body, and spirit. If you focus too much on the mind and spirit, the body suffers, and this goes for any combination of the three. But when all three are aligned, life in sobriety can be a wonderful thing and you can experience an overall feeling of wellbeing that you may have never felt before in the past.
For myself personally, I have found that being active and taking care of myself has been an integral part of my recovery. What I discovered about myself is that I have an excess amount of mental energy. I am not sure if this is because I have ADHD or just because I am an alcoholic but my mind seems like it is forever going and it is almost impossible to stop. This excess of mental energy is usually not depleted through work or other avenues, but when I work out I find that the chatter in my mind quiets down and I experience a level of calm that I don’t experience any other way.
This I have found to be particularly true when I am doing yoga. The act of doing yoga not only makes me feel healthier but when I am done I usually find that I have achieved a meditative state that is difficult for me to experience by simply sitting still and breathing. Through the movements and stretches and the need to be “in the moment” I am able to forget about everything else that is going on in my life and just be present. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I went a yoga class and didn’t feel better than when I went in.
I have also found that working out helps to reduce my stress levels. I find that if I am particularly stressed out one day and then I work out, things don’t seem so heavy. It is almost as if working out is the great equalizer and it brings everything into perspective. It allows me the mental space necessary to let go of my problems and by doing so I am then able to properly address them.
The longer that I stay sober the more and more I realize that the battle I am fighting is against my own mind. It is constantly creating new ways to keep me upset and day in and day out, it hatches schemes to one day get me drunk again. In order to offset, this I have found that I cannot spend too much time up in my own head and that I have to get out of myself. Exercising is a great tool to have in order to do this.
Similar to yoga when I am working out I am not really thinking about anything besides what I am doing and it is almost meditative. Also working out releases endorphins, which prompt an overall sense of comfort and happiness that aid in my ability to stay present in the moment and not worry so much about the future.
Besides this working out also makes me feel good about myself. I find that when I don’t work out for a while my attitude about myself changes. I think about how I could be doing more and how I am not doing enough for myself. When I am working out on a regular basis I rarely feel this way and I am proud that I am doing something to improve myself and my health.
After being sober for a little bit I no longer have such a death wish and as such, I would like to be able to live for as long as I can. Working out and taking care of my body is a way that I can go about accomplishing this. For myself, I don’t want to be sober and have a good spiritual connection but then have avoidable health problems down the road because I didn’t take care of myself. It is all-encompassing for me and like I said early, sobriety for me is about achieving a balance of the mind, body, and spirit.
So if you are newly sober or have been sober for a while and you haven’t tried exercising, try to create a routine for yourself and you will be amazed at the benefits that you receive. Be careful, though, because if you are anything like me you will set unrealistic and unattainable goals for yourself and in doing so you might jeopardize your chances of being successful with working out.
Start out slow and don’t expect to know everything there is to know right away. Even if you just start out by walking around the neighborhood after work, that is a great way to start. Once you get comfortable with your routine, build on it and continue to push and grow. Exercising is about improving you so try not to compare what you are doing with others, as this is a sure way to harshly judge yourself. I know that I have fallen into this pitfall before in the past and it did nothing but discourage me. So go out there and try it, you won’t regret it!
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.