If you’re trying to get over an addiction that’s taking control of your life, the National Institutes of Health advises you to busy yourself with hobbies. If your mind is idle, you’ll have nothing to concentrate on but your urges and withdrawal symptoms. When your brain is bombarded by new stimuli from doing activities, it drowns out addiction-based pains and drives.
Here are a few hobbies proven to help you conquer your struggle with addiction:
1. Doing Yoga
Researchers found that regularly practising yoga promotes recovery from addiction. They found that regular yoga practice puts your body in a state that interrupts stress and resets your fight-or-flight tendencies, which is what’s triggered when you’re going through withdrawal.
When you do yoga poses coupled with special, slow and long breathing techniques, the combination has been found to relax you and stimulate the pleasure centers in areas of your brain that lead to states of bliss. It also lowers activity in the area of your brain responsible for fear and aggression – two hallmark symptoms of withdrawal. So, when you do yoga your brain gets a healthy substitute for reward (instead of drugs) while downplaying your symptoms of withdrawal.
Doing yoga also boosts your blood flow and levels of oxygen-rich blood cells, which breathe more oxygen into your cells – aiding in your body’s detox processes. In fact, drug detox centers often incorporate yoga into their rehab programs because yoga’s twisting poses force out stagnant blood from veins in your internal organs, which contain toxins and byproducts from drugs. Then when you release from the twist, nutrient-rich oxygenated blood flows in from arteries to help rejuvenate these organs.
As a bonus, if you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, yoga has also been found to help alleviate your condition. Plantar fasciitis is the painful inflammation of your sole, which is often caused by sports injuries, working long hours on your feet everyday, or wearing improper footwear for long periods of time. The piercing pain from taking a step in the morning, after inactivity, or up the stairs can be exacerbating. Effective remedies include special shoe inserts and custom-made night splints that relieve pressure on your sole, but doctors also often prescribe pain medications to plantar fasciitis patients, but this can lead to dependency and addiction. Doing yoga stretches the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon, which researchers found to be very effective in treating plantar fasciitis. Not only does daily yoga loosen and relieve stress from your plantar fasciitis, it also helps prevent you from becoming addicted to your pain medication.
2. Making Sushi
Making your own sushi and the art of making sushi can be surprisingly therapeutic. Making sushi isn’t like frying an omelette or grilling a steak. According to Business Insider, making sushi is an art that takes the best students more than two years to perfect. You have to cut the fish swiftly, but gracefully, and some sushi students have compared it to performing surgery. Combining the rice with the fish is equally demanding – not enough rice makes the fish taste too strong but too much means the sushi roll won’t fit in the diner’s mouth. And if you apply too much pressure the sushi roll will be too hard, but not enough makes the roll fall apart.
Unlike most forms of food preparation that you can do on automatic, making sushi requires actually focusing on what you’re doing and tremendous concentration. This demand for constant focus on the present is what makes the art of making sushi a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is a form of active meditation where you keep your attention on the present with a neutral perspective. When you’re focusing on making sushi, you have to pay attention to every action you do. Researchers found that this constant focus on the present relieves stress and lowers your cravings, because stress is one of the top causes for drug use and you’re also interrupting your auto reaction to use drugs since you’re more aware of your actions and thoughts.
Making sushi to fight addiction also means you’ll be eating more sushi – and that helps you fight the harmful effects of addiction too! The fish in sushi is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which researchers found protects your brain up to 90 percent from alcohol’s brain-damaging effects. If you’re scared to try eating raw fish and dreading what it tastes like – don’t be! After artistically dressing the raw fish with rice, herbs, tofu, and other mouth-watering ingredients, you might become addicted to sushi’s exotic taste instead.
If you start practising the art of making sushi everyday, you’ll be able to control your cravings better while lowering your stress and becoming more in control over your urges. At the same time, you’re also protecting your brain from alcohol’s harmful effects by eating the yummy sushi you’ve made.
Like making sushi, gardening is another mindfulness hobby that gets you focusing on the present. But unlike making sushi, gardening gets you out in nature and bathed in sunlight, which has been found to improve your mood and lower your anxiety and stress. Sun exposure boosts your vitamin D levels, which has been found to alleviate depressive moods. Since depression is one of the main reasons people abuse drugs, getting some sun by gardening helps lower cravings.
Immersing yourself in nature has also been found to lessen depression, boost energy levels, boost your sense of wellbeing, and boost your pain tolerance. In fact, patients with pictures of nature in their hospital rooms experienced better pain tolerance than those who didn’t – so imagine what gardening in nature will do for your pain! With better pain tolerance, you’ll feel less tempted to abuse painkillers, drugs or alcohol.
According to Dr. Philip Smith of the National Institutes of Health, gardening also makes you eat more fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and nutrients that help flush drugs and their toxic byproducts from your body. Medline Plus says that including more fiber-rich produce in your diet can lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms, like diarrhea and constipation. Alcohol depletes your B vitamins, and long-term drinking can lead to a B vitamin deficiency, which causes dizziness, nausea, and other withdrawal-like symptoms. Fresh produce is rich in B vitamins, thus helping alleviate these symptoms by replenishing your B vitamin levels.
Another great benefit of gardening is that you’re growing organic vegetables without the price tag. Organic vegetables have been found to contain more essential polyamine antioxidants, which your body needs for daily processes and they also help neutralize drugs and their toxic byproducts in your body.
Get more control over your addiction by trying these three holistically healthy hobbies today!
Featured photo credit: geralt via pixabay.com