With everything going on in detox, treatment, and recovery, relaxation is easy to overlook. We often talk about how recovery takes work. It takes self-discipline and facing uncomfortable truths. All this is true, but if you want to keep up all that hard work and self-discipline, you will need plenty of rest. Just as top athletes know that rest is part of training, you should remember that relaxation is part of recovery. Here’s why.
Relaxation is the enemy of stress. Stress is the number one cause of relapse. Things pile up, you feel overwhelmed, and all you can think about is using again to escape. Managing your obligations helps, but you will never eliminate stress from your life, nor would you want to. Taking time to relax and deliberately not worry allows you to recover from stressful events. When you have had time to rest, your troubles won’t seem so bad.
Relaxation helps reduce anxiety. Anxiety is one of the biggest challenges people face throughout detox, treatment, and early recovery. The reason is chemical. Often, the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA has been depleted. This causes anxiety and agitation. Low GABA is especially common after quitting alcohol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates. If you have low GABA or high glutamate, you will probably feel anxious and irritable for a while. The feeling of being on edge increases your general level of stress. In this state of mind, you are more likely to do something impulsive. Taking time to relax, especially when stress spikes, can save you from relapse.
Relaxation helps you sleep. Insomnia is common during early recovery. Insomnia makes everything harder. Challenges seem bigger and you feel less able to meet them. Inadequate sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety, frequent illness, and cognitive impairment. All of those effects make recovery harder. Lowering stress and taking special care to relax before bed can help you sleep better.
Relaxation helps you stay healthy. If you carry chronic stress around all the time, it will eventually make you sick and tired. Your body believes it is constantly under attack so it suspends important functions like digesting food and fighting infections. Your body has a lot of healing to do but it can’t do it if you always feel stressed. Taking time to deliberately relax signals your body that it can start recovering.
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