Having a good routine has become one of my strongest and most powerful tools in recovery. And a major player in that routine is exercise. I benefit from exercising in so many different ways that I actually consider it a form of self-therapy.
It all began with running whilst I was in rehab. It allowed me to forget about the situation I had found myself in. It made me feel ‘normal’. I would run around the main building in the late afternoon every day, after all the therapeutic and group sessions had finished. Each day I would be able to run that little bit further, and each day I would feel that little bit more ‘normal’.
At the time, the sole reason I was running each day was to get that feeling of normality. I had no idea it would be such a powerful tool a few years down the line. And I had no idea how many different ways it would help me in the future.
I now run, swim or cycle every other day. I don’t think I could get the same sense of achievement that I feel after exercising anywhere else. It seems to clear my head and improve my mood, and even helps me to put things into perspective. It is such a powerful thing.
It’s insane to think that putting one foot in front of the other relatively quickly for 30 minutes can make you feel so good, but it does. The endorphins that rush through my head every time I finish a run seems to minimize any negativity that I might be experiencing on that particular day.
As I mentioned in the beginning, exercise has also become a big part of my routine. I can’t put into words how important a good routine is in recovery. For me personally, having positive things within that routine such as exercise and work help me to stick to it. Not only that, but they improve my mood, optimism and overall chances of continued sobriety
On top of all these benefits, aerobic exercise also helps repair all that damage I’ve done to my liver. There will always be damage there, I’ve accepted that. But if exercise gives my liver the best chance of making the best recovery possible, then I will be running, cycling, swimming and even power walking till the day I die!
However, I have learnt over the years that it is very important to have a big support network in your recovery. Purely relying on exercise as your only go-to when things are getting tough is a very, very bad idea. This is because you may not always be able to exercise for whatever reason. Making sure you have people to talk to and groups to go to or whatever works for you, in place is paramount. The bigger the support network and the more things you have in place, the better chance you have of recovery. Exercise can be a very rewarding and valuable part of that network.
So If you are struggling with alcohol or you are in recovery, running (or any form of exercise) is an amazing form of self-therapy, and I can’t recommend it enough. It has so many benefits, both physically and mentally. So many that I have hardly touched the surface in this blog entry. It’s become a huge part of my life, and a big part of my recovery. I hope it can do the same for you.
Thanks for reading and best of luck.