Long-term addiction recovery depends on transforming the mind, body, and spirit. Neglect the brain—the body and spirit will suffer. Ignore physical wellbeing—mental health and a person’s connection to something “deeper” will decline. Merely put, the whole person is only as strong as its weakest link.
When a person enters into a program of addiction recovery for alcohol, substance use, or co-occurring mental illness, they realize that their journey will require more than saying goodbye to mind-altering substances. Men and women discover that lasting transformations and continued progress will hinge on a complete overhaul.
Regardless of the mental disease in question, those struggling with such illnesses are in poor health by the time treatment commences. It is critical that patients adopt changes that go beyond embracing abstinence. Incorporating a healthy diet and a routine of physical fitness significantly increases a person’s ability to heal from that trauma that so often accompanies mental health disorders. Again, the mind, body, and spirit connection is a system; neglecting one aspect can result in systemic failure.
Eating healthily and prioritizing even light physical exercise will assist the healing process of recovery. Moreover, people who embrace such changes can better connect with the spiritual realm—in turn enhancing their ability to achieve the goals they desire.
The Foods We Eat Impact Our Mental Health
In 2016, a relatively small study found that eating more fruits and vegetables led to improvements in mental well-being. A research fellow in behavioral economics and an associate professor of economics at the University of Leeds set out to determine if the same held true with a larger sample. Neel Ocean and Peter Howley shared their findings in a commentary for CNN recently.
The researchers looked at more than 40,000 participants from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, according to the article. They found a link between eating healthy foods and increases in self-reported mental well-being and life satisfaction throughout five years.
The scientists note that their study, “alone cannot reveal a causal link from fruit and vegetable consumption to increased psychological well-being.” But, their “work adds weight to a growing body of evidence that eating fruits and vegetables and having higher levels of mental well-being are positively related, and the signs of a causal link from other recent studies are encouraging.”
Neel Ocean and Peter Howley also point out that consuming healthy foods is not a substitute for medical treatment. The findings of this kind of research is beneficial for both mental clinicians and people working a program of recovery. Making changes to your lifestyle is a process; and, major, notable transformations will not take place overnight. For those in early recovery who are resistant to embracing a healthier diet or physical exercise, please keep in mind that making such changes can happen gradually.
The authors of the study say that “adding just one serving of fruits or vegetables daily may have as many benefits for mental well-being as adding seven to eight walks per month to your physical regimen.” Simply put, achieving mental health recovery benefits doesn’t require men and women becoming vegetarians or gym enthusiasts. Small, incremental lifestyle changes could pay significant dividends.
Chemical Dependency and Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment
Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat offer people struggling with mental health the highest degree of medical, psychological, and spiritual expertise. Our team of clinicians can help you or a loved one take the first steps toward healing the mind, body, and spirit. Upon completion of our program, our center continues to prioritize clients’ aftercare as they walk the road to long-term recovery.