Recovery and Mental Health
For many people, depression and anxiety are contributing factors to—and/or co-occurring disorders with—a substance use disorder. Depending on the severity of your anxiety or depression, your doctor may prescribe medication. In addition, it can be a good idea to boost your mental health via lifestyle changes. Caring for your body and mind can help alleviate negative moods and support your long-term recovery.
Improve Your Diet to Improve Your Mood
Good nutrition obviously has benefits for your physical health, but it can also be a powerful boost to your mental health.
If, for example, you are battling depression, a conscious effort to reduce the amount of refined sugar in your diet may be beneficial. While sugar does temporarily boost serotonin levels (and thereby boost your mood), the crash that follows often leads to deeper feelings of depression. So avoiding sugary drinks and foods can be a great first step in your efforts to ward off depression.
For those dealing with anxiety, it may be wise to forego the caffeine found in coffee, soda, and even chocolate. Caffeine jitters can easily stoke the fires of anxiety, so avoiding the stimulant can be a wise decision.
As for what you should eat, consider a diet high in clean saturated fats and omega-3 fats (like those found in seafood) with moderate amounts of protein. This approach can help stabilize mood while limiting inflammation. Dark hued vegetables and fruits, fresh herbs, and anti-inflammatory spices (like turmeric) can also provide benefits because they are rich in polyphenols—micronutrients with antioxidant properties.
More Motion (Especially Outdoors) Equals Modified Mood
Exercise, like nutrition, is one of the lifestyle changes that offers benefits for both our bodies and our minds. By increasing energy levels, releasing endorphins in the brain, reducing stress, and promoting positive body image, exercise can be an excellent way to battle depression and anxiety.
Ideally, you’ll get at least a portion of your daily exercise outdoors so that you can soak up some vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D is an important component of managing mood.
Getting started may seem daunting, but the truth is even small changes to the amount of physical activity we engage in can be beneficial. Park a little farther away from the door. Take the stairs. Walk the dog. The important thing is to get moving—and to enjoy the outdoors whenever possible.
Catch More Zzzs to Manage Your Mood
Are you getting enough sleep? If you’re like most people in this busy world, the answer is probably no. And that can be a problem—especially in the fight against depression. So, put the to-do list away and work on your sleep hygiene by setting a regular bedtime and avoiding screen time for at least 30 minutes before your head hits the pillow. A cool, dark, quiet, uncluttered environment is ideal for sleep. Taking some time to meditate before sleep or to luxuriate in a warm bath or shower or listen to some relaxing music can help you make the most of your restful hours.
Write—or Draw—Your Feelings, No Matter Your Mood
Keeping a journal can be one of the many very beneficial lifestyle changes for those struggling with depression or anxiety. Getting your thoughts on paper—whether you write paragraph after paragraph, just a few lines, or even concentrate on drawings and doodles that represent your feelings—is a powerful way to gain perspective and see progress in your day-to-day journey. This process of self-expression can be an important personal and creative outlet.
Sometimes Medication May Still Be Necessary
All of the ideas we’ve considered here are likely to offer benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Even so, it is important to keep in mind that in comes cases medication may, in fact, be necessary for controlling anxiety or depression. An open dialogue with your healthcare provider is essential. Be honest about symptoms you are experiencing—and about concerns you have about medication as it relates to your efforts to stay sober.
Together, you and your healthcare provider can determine the best path forward for managing your mental health while also protecting your sobriety.
We Are Always in the Mood to Help
It is absolutely essential that any co-occurring disorders are addressed when a person is seeking treatment for a substance use disorder. The staff at Bel Aire Recovery Center understands this and is prepared to listen carefully in order to create an effective personalized plan for treatment. We can help you determine the best ways to manage depression, anxiety, or other disorders while maintaining your sobriety. If you need help, don’t wait until the mood strikes you to reach out. Let us offer our expertise and compassion right away.