Tag Archives: nutrition

Find your strengths to cope with grief during addiction recovery

siluette of person feeling freedom from addiction

How to cope with grief during addiction recovery:

The grief of losing someone close to you is difficult for anyone. For someone who has struggled with addiction, the feelings of sorrow after someone passes away may seem like too much to bear. But, you know that having a relapse can be lethal. So, you must find your strengths to cope with grief during addiction recovery. Then, find the help you need to heal from the emotional damage without returning to your destructive behaviors.

The death of a friend or loved one can leave anyone feeling dangerously low. HealthVista, Inc  has some helpful information on its website about grief, including a checklist to show you how normal responses to grief can vary. Many coping strategies to help you during those difficult times of bereavement during addiction recovery can be found in this blog post below:

Tap into your strengths

Remember that the same inner strength and resources that helped you fight addiction can help you get through the pain of grief. If you’ve been through a recovery program, you’ve probably learned some highly useful strategies. Realize that your personal strengths can help you. Now’s the time to use them, because giving into addiction will only make a bad situation worse.

Find support

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. The most important thing is to stay with your detox treatment plan.  People who are close to you can help a lot you as you recover from loss. Feeling supported and loved by your family and friends can help you resist the strong urges to turn to drugs or alcohol. For many addicts, family is a powerful source of strength. Consider making efforts to reconnect to family, friends, and your spiritual supports if you have been apart. Remember, one of the primary lessons of substance abuse treatment is to surround yourself with positive people.

Get professional help

 You may need some counseling following the death of someone close to you. Counselors can help you avoid falling back into drug use, alcohol abuse, or other unhealthy addictions. Grief counselors teach strategies for coping with depression and the hopelessness that can be part of bereavement.  Substance abuse therapists and support groups can keep you focused on preventing a relapse.

It is hard to find a counselor that can help you through both your grief and addiction, although many therapists excel in one or the other. They are both important as you cope with grief during addiction recovery.  Grief counseling addresses the loss of a very real and physical person while substance abuse counseling helps you through the loss of your old ways. Even as you get healthy, you may miss things that you don’t want to admit.

Finances are another concern when seeking professional help. If you have yet to re-establish a career and get yourself back on your feet, paying for the help you need can seem impossible. Ask about any sliding scale services that can work with your budget or your insurance.

Let go of guilt

Not everyone can easily turn to their family, friends, or loved ones for help. In the early days of recovery, you may find it difficult, especially if they are the same people you hurt when you were under the influence. Asking for help may be hard, even among your peers. You or your fellow addicts may have done unspeakable things to fuel desires. It’s hard to face that and open yourself up again to uncertain emotions.

Recovery often involves confronting the feelings of guilt and shame for your past actions that may have affected the people you love. It is a complex emotion that you  can learn more about from this handout  or by watching this Mananaging Guilt Powerpoint . When the someone you’ve hurt has died, you may never have the chance to make amends. This can make it even harder to grieve their death since a part of your atonement died with them.

Guilt is hard to overcome. Lingering guilt can feel all-consuming and keep you trapped in your addiction even if you haven’t been using anymore. If you never get the opportunity to rectify your actions, you may find yourself locked in a pattern of wanting to move forward and heal, but not being able to because you never got to truly redress your wrongs. Learn to let go of the guilt, because holding on to it can increase your risk for relapse.

Get enough sleep

If you don’t take care of yourself physically, it can also make it harder to avoid relapse. A lack of sleep can trigger depression in anyone, but sleep is doubly important for addicts, who need to feel refreshed and strongly fortified against addiction. Being unable to sleep is not unusual when someone is grieving, but and it can weaken your self-control. Try to establish a regular sleep pattern by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. If sleep deprivation persists, consult your doctor or counselor.

Eat healthy foods

Good nutrition is also essential for addicts who have gone through recovery. You probably learned to that a variety of foods and nutrients is needed for your physical and mental health. Renew your efforts to improve your nutrition, if needed. Try eating balanced meals each day, emphasizing foods that you like, plus fruits and vegetables. See your doctor if you have a persistent lack of appetite, or anemia.

Find a creative outlet

Positive and healthy distractions are effective ways to help overcome depression. Spend some time indulging your creative side with activities that engage your mind completely, such as music, writing or journaling, drawing, or gardening. Creativity can help you express your emotions, give you a sense of accomplishment, and a somewhat different perspective on a troubling situation. Going for a walk outdoors or participating in sports or exercise can also be very healthy both physically and mentally.

Set goals

This might also be the perfect time to examine goals you might previously have put on the shelf. For instance, you could take steps toward further educational goals. You might even decide to get serious about advancing your career or starting your own business. With online classes, there are more flexible programs available. Starting college later than usual can give you more experience in the real world, and make you uniquely equipped to handle the challenges!

Spend quiet time for relaxation

It’s important to understand your emotions in order to get then under control. Meditation and relaxation techniques can help quiet the mind and help us let go of the things we can’t control. Learning to cope by using meditation, mindfulness, or other ways of relaxation can reduce the confusion and grief after  loss and bereavement.

While your instinct can be to shut everyone out, it’s important to stay socially connected after someone dies. Whether it’s an addiction counselor, a grief counselor, a solid family member or a good friend, you’ll know who you can turn to. It won’t be easy, but the influence of family members, friends, and counseling professionals can keep you grounded and on the right path.  Grounding techniques can also help you fight the strong urges and cravings that are common during recovery from addiction.

Plan for a solid recovery and avoid relapse

Use your strengths and your supports. Seek clear and practical health information to develop and promote a plan for healing both your body and mind. Explore the many resources and the Recovery Workbooks at Health Vista to improve your mental health as you recover and manage addiction.

Blog Post #28 added 12-29-21 by guest contributor Gwen Payne of invisiblemoms.com .  Edited by Mary Knutson of Health Vista, Inc.

 

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Recover and Thrive after Major Life Challenges

Man and woman relaxing

Strive to recover after addiction or other life challenges

Those who commit to to it can recover from addiction or other life challenges. They have a priceless opportunity to thrive and create a better life. To optimize your life, you may need healthy lifestyle choices, a supportive social life, and the drive to take charge of your life.

Remember that in 2020, there were many more changes and challenges than usual for individuals, families, and communities.  The year 2021 continues to be difficult for people with addiction or with mental illness, but recovery is possible.  Be kind to yourself as you realize all you have been through and survived. Both good and bad life changes can sharply raise your level of stress.

Get enough exercise and rest

Whole-body wellness means balancing the right amount of activity and rest.  We need both physical and mental strength to fight for recovery every day and to replace bad habits with good ones. Exercise has proven to be an effective recovery tool because “working out” affects the brain in a positive way.

If you want to add exercise to your life during recovery, think small at first. The goal is to identify and start an activity that is sustainable for the long haul, so you can stay self-motivated. Hitting the gym hard for 30 days until you burn out is not especially helpful. But, walking a little bit every day is an activity that can last a lifetime. Other low-impact exercises could include lightweight muscle workouts using small dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands. If you don’t have weights, you could put water into milk jugs until they are the weight you want to use. Muscle exercises and the active movements are important to jumpstart metabolism and help to strengthen your core muscles.

Improve your nutrition

Besides adding physical activity, improving your diet also supports your overall well-being. Eating healthy foods and getting balanced nutrition are key. Destructive habits like substance abuse can take over your life if it seems like getting high or drunk becomes more important than eating. Recovery is an opportunity to start over and refuel the body with much-needed nutrients.

Switching quickly from an extremely poor diet to a healthy one can be difficult because your habits can be powerful. Consider small, impactful changes to your eating. Some healthy changes can include:

  • Eating regular meals on a schedule.
  • Cut down on caffeine, if possible. Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat foods that are lower in fat, higher in protein and fiber
  • Add vegetables to your plate. (Try covering half the plate in garden colors, then dividing the remaining half into a quarter of protein and a quarter of whole grains.)
  • Experiment with different flavors to add excitement to your meals. People often reach for junk food because it tastes good, but healthy food done right can taste even better.
  • Plan meals in advance and have a big cooking session. If you can spend a few hours in the kitchen on a Sunday, you can make your lunches and dinners for the entire week and avoid the temptation to grab a quick unhealthy bite during the week.

Find Positive and Supportive People

Healthy living includes spending positive social time with people and having fun. For instance, healthy cooking “parties” can be a way to meet new people or connect with old friends. The key to your social life— and the struggle — is to disconnect from negative influences that may trigger a relapse. To have a better “road to recovery”, you may need to find new friends. If you are an alcoholic, instead of going to bars, “hang out” at coffee shops or other places where they don’t serve alcohol.

Social support is crucial to recovery because you may not be able to manage triggers on your own. Supportive friends and family can help you stay on track and to keep busy enough so there is no room in your life for bad habits.

Take Control of Your Life

Taking your life “by the reins” is like steering yourself away from stress and addiction toward recovery. Problem-solving will be needed after you figure out what is bothering you the most. Perhaps your financial situation is the current source of your stress. Or, maybe you’re not totally satisfied at your job, but don’t feel financially comfortable enough to leave. Maybe you’ve recently lost your job and don’t know what your next move should be. Think about what you would most like to do in life, and then pursue it. This life change could be an opportunity to do something you love. You may want to start a “side hustle” or launch your own business.

If you are considering forming a business, a good way to protect your personal assets and qualify for more tax breaks is  LLC filing. Like most states, MN allows a company to be structured online with affordable services. First, you would need to spend some time brainstorming to choose a unique business name, and then start making a business plan.

Learn How to Cope

It could be scary to jump into starting a new business, a new job, or new relationships after a major life challenge. Your confidence is usually low, and your future may look uncertain. But, when you choose something you really want to do, it will help motivate you toward a more successful and stable future.  Make sure you talk about your plans with your family and friends, they can advise you and support you as problems come up.

In recovery, your emotions may change quickly, like an emotional “roller coaster”. It helps to have a coping plan to help you and your family deal with negative thoughts or behaviors.

Health Vista, Inc. has a Coping and Relaxation workbook you can download and print. You can also find many local and online addiction resources, and recovery resources to use.

Through healthy living, people in recovery can thrive. Rather than following a downward spiral, start making improvements in exercise, diet, positive social support. Follow your passion to help propel you to a better life as you recover from addiction or other life challenges. .

Finding success involves planning and a high level of self-knowledge, but it is easier than you might think. Get active and healthier. Laugh with good friends. Manage your life and learn to cope with the stress that comes with big and small life changes.

Blog # 24  Added 2-11-21 written by guest contributor Dylan Wallace.  Edited by Mary Knutson, Health Vista, Inc.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

 

 

Reflections on Emotional Eating

Red geranium flowers on white outdoor background

Wanting to eat when not physically hungry:

I have a problem with emotional eating. I have the urge to taste almost any food that is around, and to eat too much of the “comfort foods” that I love. Sometimes when I am upset, I have been known to have a “binge” by eating way too much of something. In the past, I have eaten several servings at a time of cereal, chips, pizza, candy, or cookies. I used to take a bag of chocolate chips, out of the freezer to eat.

But I can control it better now that I recognize what is happening and I cope with the problems that are making me feel like bingeing.  I also avoid keeping “trigger foods” in the house.  Those strategies  helped me to lose weight and to stay at a healthier weight for several years.

This Emotional Eating Handout describes what I learned about how your mood can affect what you eat.

Food and feelings go together:

  • We tend to link food with enjoyment, affection, and nurturing
  • Food is usually part of emotion-filled events, either happy or unhappy ones
  • Eating for comfort is a common behavior that comes from a deep connection within us
  • Some people eat in response to emotions rather than hunger
  • If you are overweight, ask yourself if emotional eating is an issue for you

Mindfulness skills can develop ways to cope:

  • Cope better with the daily ups and downs of daily life
  • Recognize and avoid black-and-white thinking (where things and actions are looked at as being good or bad, right or wrong)
  • Avoid thinking that things should be perfect
  • Use coping skills for self-control when dealing with food temptations and relapses
  • Get the help you need for problem-solving

Mood and weight changes:

    • Food choices affect mood in positive or negative ways
    • Learn how to eat healthier to improve your mood
    • Hormones affect mood – Examples are cortisol (from adrenal glands) or estrogen (a female sex hormone)

For a more wide-ranging discussion of nutrition, also see https://7nsf19.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ExploringNutritionIcebreakersDiscussionGuide.pdf

“Triggers” for emotional eating:

  • Recognize and avoid any “triggers” you have
  • A trigger food can set off a “binge” of eating, no matter what your mood is – Examples include ice cream, cookies, nuts, potato chips
  • Trigger foods are not the same as favorite foods, comfort foods, or food cravings
  • A trigger feeling is an emotion, good or bad, that leads to overeating – Any available food will do
  • A trigger environment is a specific place or setting that leads to overeating – Examples include movie theaters, buffet restaurants, sporting events or social gatherings
  • Eating triggers do happen – They are a sign to stop and think about how you can avoid them from happening in the future

Understand the connection between emotions and eating, to help you succeed in maintaining a healthy weight

Weight Watchers Research Department. (2009). Emotional eating, Mind skills for lasting weight loss, Mood and weight, and Eating triggers retrieved from www.weightwatchers.com

Mindfulness instead of emotional eating:

People tend to eat mindlessly most of the time. When “chowing down,” we are usually thinking about other things and not really tasting our food.

We often respond to the sight of food with the impulse to devour it – whether or not we are actually hungry.

We miss the subtle feelings of fullness if we don’t slow down to finish chewing and swallowing before we pick up the next bite

It takes 20 minutes for your body to signal its fullness. By eating fast, you are likely to overeat.

Try eating mindfully by savoring the sight, smell, texture, the color and light on the food, the connection to the outside world, the taste and feel of the food as you eat it slowly.

In mindfulness retreats, the meals are usually served in silence. That way, you can think about the food and the efforts that went into growing and preparing it.

You may feel satisfied without eating as much food as you have been eating. You can practice mindful eating when you eat alone or in silence.

Siegel, R. (2010). The mindfulness solution: Everyday practices for everyday problems, p. 261-264. New York: Guilford Press

Being mindful and aware of emotional eating can really help you make healthier habits. Call a friend when you feel like bingeing. If there is something upsetting you, figure out what to do and write it down (or do it). Take a walk or do some exercises. Take a bath or shower. Get busy doing something that takes your mind off your cravings.

You can get past it if you resist for a few minutes.  If you are physically satisfied and no longer hungry, push away from the table and put the food away.  The urges will weaken and go away.  You are more in control than you think!

Blog #6  By Mary Knutson RN, MSN for Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-25-20