Written By: Katie Schipper
Getting Over Depression and Anxiety in Early-Recovery
Giving up drugs and alcohol alters our brain chemistry. After all, drugs and booze serve as substitute chemicals, so the brain stops producing its natural ones. It’s going to take a little while for the brain to catch up.
If you go to treatment, there’s a good chance you’ll be put on an anti-depressant of some kind. For a lot of people, medication is a necessary part of recovery. Medication can be lifesaving. Depression and anxiety are often signs of substance abuse, as well as sources. What other tools are there to help ease depression and anxiety?
Exercise Can Ease Pain and Discomfort
Regular exercise is an often overlooked tool for recovery. It’s consistently proven to improve the work of medication, or to work in cases where medication isn’t necessary.
One of the pitfalls of early-sobriety is turning to other outlets in a desperate attempt to ease some of the pain and discomfort of being newly sober. If these outlets were healthy, it wouldn’t be a pitfall. Unfortunately, they usually take the form of co-dependent relationships, food, or other cross-addictions. The problem with these things is that, while they initially appear to be okay, in the longterm they cause harm in much the same way actively drinking and drugging does.
This is where healthy alternatives come into play and make no mistake, there are a lot of healthy alternatives. Exercise is only one of a laundry list. There’s also: new hobbies, meditation, seeking outside help and therapy, building new friendships, and so on. Exercise comes up first on so many lists because its benefits go beyond simply filling time.
Warding off Heath Problems from Addiction
Physically exercise prevents and cures a slew of health problems. It helps keep an increasingly unhealthy population away from heart disease and other preventable illnesses. For the alcoholic and addict in early-recovery, the most incredible benefit of exercise is its use as a natural anxiolytic and antidepressant. It’s important to remember that exercise can be used on its own or in addition to medication. If you take antidepressants, it’s not a good idea to quit without first consulting your doctor.
Release the Endorphins!
On a medical level, exercise releases neurotransmitters and endorphins that are responsible for feeling good. Exercise can also reduce those chemicals responsible for depression. Socially, exercise can change how someone sees themselves. Anything that helps build self-esteem in early-sobriety is a huge plus!
Now, you don’t have to join a gym, start running marathons, or anything crazy. Exercise is as simple as going for a bike ride or walk. It can also become a lifelong hobby or passion, like doing yoga or taking up a sport. The great thing about finding an outlet which involves other people is that it helps ease some of the isolation that accompanies early-sobriety (and absolutely accompanies depression).
Regardless of brain chemistry or scientific research, exercise is a commonsense good idea! The evidence is clear for any woman who attempts to add exercise to her life. It changes energy levels, increases confidence, and the longer someone has an exercise routine, the more benefits manifest themselves. It’s an amazing, and often untapped, tool of early recovery.