It’s Easy to Skimp on Self-Care
How often have we come home from a super stressful day and given in to our favorite, potentially unhealthy, coping-craving?
(Yesterday, after spending the entire day on the phone trying to figure out how I was going to pay my school tuition, I came home and ate three homemade chocolate chip cookies.)
For some people it’s eating chocolate chip cookies until they feel like they can smile again. For others, it’s a cold beer and putting their feet up in the recliner as their favorite sitcom plays yet another rerun. Napping, exercising, painting, writing, snuggling–you name it, someone does it to cope with stress.
It’s no scientific secret that chronic stress has quite a few consequences on our minds and bodies, like:
- Headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, and high blood pressure
- Unhealthy weight loss or gain
- Higher vulnerability to co-occurring illnesses like depression and addiction, or anxiety and addiction
- A strong desire to self-medicate via drug-seeking behaviors
It’s pretty safe to say: stress is no joke. The danger arises when stress leads to alcohol or drug use, which can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.
Yoga Can Help
But what if stress could push us into good behavior? Well, it can. Of the many healthy coping mechanisms (meditation, time outdoors, talking with friends, taking a walk), yoga is one that relieves stress in both mind and body.
Here’s what yoga has going for it:
- The combination of physical movement, meditation, and breath work involved in yoga has been shown to reduce blood pressure and overall bodily tension
- Regular yoga practice is proven to noticeably reduce stress and anxiety
- Regular practice actually decreases symptoms of depression
Essentially, the more yoga we do, the better we feel. Practicing yoga regularly is a great way to support sobriety and manage stressors that might otherwise lead to relapse.
So, which type of yoga is right for you?
Yoga has a rich cultural history spanning thousands of years. There are many types of yoga, many of which overlap with each other.
While there are many opportunities to do yoga at home in an online class or with a DVD or youtube video, nothing beats working in person with a certified yoga instructor. You’ll learn the correct alignments and how to practice with causing yourself injury.
The best way to find a yoga practice and studio that works for you is to try several. You’ll find that some yoga classes emphasize the physical and feel more like a traditional workout. Other styles are made up of flowing movements combined with a focus on the breath. The important thing to know is that yoga is for all body types and all fitness levels. Even if you have never done yoga before, and even if your body shape does not match the shape of bodies you see in yoga magazines, you can find a yoga class that meets your needs.
How you feel in a class matters. Does the instructor make you feel comfortable and welcome? Is the atmosphere competitive or nurturing? After the class is over, do you feel exhausted or refreshed? If you don’t feel good about going to class, find a different class.
Ideally, your yoga class will teach you how to be more aware of your body and breath. It will help you slow down and move with mindfulness. You will find yourself, little by little, growing stronger and more flexible in body and mind.
We Are Here to Help
If you’re struggling in your recovery and worried about your ability to manage stress in a healthy way, Safe Harbor Recovery Center can help. Our evidence-based programs can help you find the peace of mind you need to support a long-term recovery. Contact us today.