What can you learn from one of the largest and most successful support systems in the world? Beating substance abuse addiction is one of the most difficult feats a person can overcome, but the spiritual non-profit organization Alcoholics Anonymous has been helping people get and stay sober for almost 100 years. The organization is a well-source of wisdom that can be applied to all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Read the top 10 health and life tips to learn Alcoholics Anonymous:
- Eat a Healthy Diet
Food is super important when it comes to your mood, energy levels, and overall health. In times of turmoil, we sometimes turn to food for comfort. But processed junk food is always only a temporary satisfaction. When you’re struggling with an addiction, especially, food is often substituted out of comfort. Mindfully eating the right type of foods, like whole nutrient dense substances, will influence your mood positively. Healthy foods boost energy levels, enhance brain function, and improve the immune system. Nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats are all helpful on the road to recovery. Research has found that whole foods alter the chemical and psychological processes in the brain ultimately influencing your behavior.
- Develop Positive Coping Skills
In order to really change, one must create healthy habits and coping mechanisms. In AA, the withdrawal from alcohol can be a tough journey, so fostering new ways to deal with change is vital. Relaxation techniques such as reading, being in nature, walking, meditation, and exercising will ultimately aid you in your journey to better health. These different ways of coping have been shown to: lower blood pressure, help blood flow, improve brain function, and so much more. Taking care of yourself mind, body, and soul is essential to carrying out a healthy lifestyle.
- Have Faith In a Higher Power, whichever works for you
This tip from Alcoholics Anonymous is their Step 2 can have tremendous benefits for one’s mental health. When hardships hit, life can get very stressful and unhappy pretty fast. So when you feel defeated or helpless, surrendering to something bigger than yourself might just be what can help. There is something so refreshing about turning your problems and worries over to a higher power. With alcohol addiction, self blame can be the reason the unhealthy cycle keeps going. But a belief in a higher power can ultimately be the vessel on needs for healing and self forgiveness. According to a study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, this belief can lower anxiety, enhance optimism, increase stress resilience, coping, and more in those who struggle with substance abuse.
- Pray or Meditate
”Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” -Alcoholic Anonymous step 11. A big part of the recovery process in AA is linked to spiritual health. Prayer and meditation have been shown to have tangible health effects. According to these science-backed benefits, prayer helps people be nicer, more forgiving, and more trusting, as well as improve self-control and reduce stress. Meditation helps one focus more clearly and boosts that immune system as well!
Alcohol addiction can wreak havoc on one’s psychological and physical health. But on the road to recovery, exercising can have the opposite effects! Hitting the cardio machines or pumping iron will literally alter your brain chemistry for the better, relieve stress, and improve your overall outlook. Not only will you look stronger, but will really feel the internal strength effects of physical activity as well. When exercising, dopamine floods your brain which positively affects your motivation and produces feelings of wellness. Not only will exercise help you live a healthier life in the moment but will ultimately impact your overall quality of life for the better.
- Get Social Support
You don’t need to be a scientist to know that having a group of people to turn to in rough times is essential to our health. In Alcoholic Anonymous, the whole group is one big support team. By using their guiding principles and fellowship with one another, they begin the process of recovery. Having people by your side that are going through the same struggles, or even just to listen are beneficial to one’s health. Many studies have shown the positive benefits, from elevating blood pressure and heart rate to reducing stress, the effects are wide. It’s even been shown that those with close ties live longer! So get to connecting, my friend.
- Make Amends
Part of this step in AA is about admitting one’s wrongs and correcting them for the benefit of others and themselves. This step can bring incredible healing when practiced. Not only for those struggling with abuse, but for anyone who wants to live healthier. By admitting wrongs and asking for forgiveness, anyone can reap the benefits of improved relationships and mood. Making amends can be in many forms, like writing a letter or having a face to face conversation, but your quality of life can be improved either way. Practicing this principle will almost always be a beneficial thing to your (and other’s) health.
- Forgive Yourself and Others
Many people suffer from self destructive blame, especially those who struggle with addiction. They can have a hard time moving forward because they don’t feel worthy of forgiveness. Holding onto grudges or self-blame can be detrimental to living a happy and healthy life. When we release that burden, however, the benefits are bountiful. Several studies in Huffington post reveal the awesome effects of forgiving others. It can extend your life, decrease chronic stress, improve sleep, decrease blood pressure, strengthen relationships and many other protective factors. When you are able to forgive others, you become able to forgive yourself.
- Look at your relationship with alcohol
Yes, drinking is a great way to socialize, relax, and have fun. But if it becomes too often or obsessive, it can destroy a healthy lifestyle. People apart of AA know this first hand, because it not only destroys their own health, but negatively impacts those around them as well. Drinking a lot increases risks for diseases and cancers. Quitting, or strictly limiting drinking, has so many health benefits, especially for your liver! Studies show that it can help you slim down and stay fit because you’re not slowing the metabolism anymore or drinking empty calories. Your body will be able to absorb more nutrients than before, get higher quality sleep, and even perform better with sex.
- Live for today
For recovering alcoholics, many worries about the future can block the path of healing. One of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves is to not worry about tomorrow, but focus on the positives today. When we are constantly bombarded with stressors and thinking about the future we can quickly get overwhelmed by life. Every day is different, but the ability to focus on the day and the tasks at hand is key to enjoying the moment. Being mindful and living for today can impact our physical and mental health by reducing anxiety, improving self esteem, and help us cope better will illnesses. So no matter what life throws at you, remember to focus on the moment and appreciate the health benefits of doing so!