Relaxation is important for recovery. It reduces stress and anxiety. It improves sleep and makes you healthier. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. Much of the tension and anxiety you feel during early recovery is chemical. Your brain has not quite sorted out its levels of GABA, dopamine, and glutamate. It might be a while before you can relax deeply without chemical help, but taking time to relax will make other parts of recovery go better.
Schedule time to relax. Don’t just assume you’ll fit it in somewhere. When you are busy, rest is the first thing to suffer. If your rest suffers, your recovery suffers. Set aside some time every day just to relax. Schedule it at the same time if you can so your body expects it. That will make it easier to unwind.
Find a reliable relaxation technique. Relaxation isn’t just the absence of activity. Your mind and body hold the tension of the day unless you deliberately relax. There are many ways to do this. Progressive relaxation is one popular way. You just tense a body part for a few seconds, then let it relax as completely as possible. Then you work your way up, or down, whichever suits you. Yoga is essentially a system of alternating tension and relaxation. You have to relax to stretch. There is also visualisation, guided meditation, and self-hypnosis. Try several different methods. If something seems to work for you, practice it daily.
Spend time with friends and family. Social interaction is a great way to relax. Spending time with people who support you allows you to let your guard down. It reminds you that you don’t have to face your problems alone. Just knowing help is there if you need it makes you less anxious.
Exercise. It sounds counterintuitive, but exercise is one of the best ways to relax. It reduces stress and increases serotonin. It gets your mind off your problems. Afterward, you’re a bit tired and you will sleep better. Just don’t overdo it. Frequent, intense exercise can increase inflammation and make you feel sick and exhausted.
Spend time in nature. Spending time in nature is one of the most reliable ways to relax. Studies show that just looking at pictures of natural settings reduces stress. Actually being outside in nature is far better. There are compounds in plants and in the soil that calm you down and improve your immunity. A walk outside, alone or with a friend, is the perfect way to take a break from everyday worries.
Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programmes, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies for mental illnesses. For more information, please call 041-214-5111. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-214-5111.
Last updated & clinically assessed 30 March, 2022