Tag Archives: Yoga

Skill-Building Activities for Mental Health and Addiction

“Recovery is non-linear, characterized by continual growth and improved functioning that may involve setbacks.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Steps to Recovery

Recovery takes time, a community, and will involve many different steps for each person. In recovery, a setback may be inevitable. However, a setback is not a reason for recovery to be abandoned. Everyone struggles with something in their own way and will face obstacles and setbacks. One of the best courses of action you can take is to accumulate various tools and means of support. Addiction is complex and thus your recovery will also be complex. This does not mean it is impossible, but simply that it is a process that will take serious effort.

The thought of addressing mental health issues, particularly when in recovery, may not be the most appealing. In fact, it may feel like an exhausting task. However, it is possible to engage without using all of your energy. With recovery, there are different forms of therapy that will be needed. Among them, Adventure Therapy is a way to participate in therapy while staying active. Understandably, it is not always going to be possible to engage in more strenuous physical exercise. Sometimes you just need something that is calming and simple. The good thing is there are a lot of options for low-impact activities. They will do a lot to improve your mental health and help you in your sobriety.

Low-Impact Activities to Improve Mental Health

A sense of purpose is incredibly important for any person and especially so when you are in recovery. When you have a routine and engage in physical exercise or social activities, that is a part of establishing your identity. There are low-impact activities like gardening and volunteering that allow you to be active without extending too much energy. They may even help you find a sense of self-worth.

With gardening and volunteering, you can take care of where you live and the community around you. When you give back to others, you should do so without expecting anything in return. Nonetheless, it will in turn enrich your life and you may find great improvements to your mental health. While gardening and volunteering can differ, both will develop the communities that are immensely important in recovery.

With gardening, you can work with a wide variety of plants that are visually pleasing as well as plants that can provide food. As you nourish the plants, it is rewarding to see the results of your labor. It is also fulfilling to know you are helping to create and maintain life. When you volunteer, you may be able to gain leadership and team-building skills. These skills will be essential in work and day-to-day life.

Practicing Mindfulness

Activities like yoga, meditation, cooking, and walking are all easy-going ways to relax, ease stress, and reduce symptoms of mental illness. They won’t be an instant fix, but they can be a component of the working parts that comprise your recovery. Yoga, in particular, has been shown to be helpful for stress and pain management. A Harvard Mental Health Letter cites a study by the University of Utah, which showed that people who practiced yoga had better stress regulation and in turn better pain management.*

There are many different ways to practice meditation, with no one way being correct. Often, people who practice meditation want to focus on their breath and focus on the present moment. The idea is to create a state of calm and peace, which will allow for internal reflection. From an article published by the US National Library of Medicine, author Michael McGee MD, wrote, “Several studies have also suggested that meditation can be helpful for the treatment of anxiety, addiction, aggression, suicidality, and depression.”*

Often, we can be our worst enemy when we constantly over-think our problems. This feeds a negative mindset from which it is hard to recover. Meditation and yoga are great ways to calm a racing mind. Adventure Therapy can be totally calm like yoga and meditation or high-impact like team sports and white-water rafting. Whatever you choose, it should help you to stop dwelling on the negative aspects of life that keep you down.

Cooking and Walking as Therapy

Cooking and walking are two activities that can do a lot to help your physical and mental health. With walking, you can get much needed exercise without too much of a strain. When you are walking outdoors, you may find that you are able to find time for reflection and it may help relieve some stress. Cooking is an activity that requires you to learn and focus on the tasks at hand. You may end up learning a lot about nutrition which obviously affects your physical health, but also affects your mental health in ways you may not even realize.

In an article for Psychology Today, Linda Wasmer Andrews writes that culinary therapy is growing at clinics and therapists offices, and is being used to treat a number of conditions including, “…depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD, and addiction.”* What you eat can greatly affect your mental health, but the act of cooking itself can be immensely helpful.  As you cook, you gain new knowledge and also you can practice mindfulness as you focus on each step. Mindfulness may appear to be simple, but it something that when you practice it, it yields extraordinary benefits. Among the benefits, it will help reduce the time you spend worrying which feeds into mental illness.

Mental Health and Recovery

While the activities listed above are calm and low intensity, they can still be adventurous and you can learn. Sometimes just learning new facts and skills can be an exciting experience. Any type of Adventure Therapy should help you develop life-skills, interpersonal relationships, and even enable you to learn more about yourself. As the types of Adventure Therapy vary, the benefits will also vary from activity to activity. You can try a wide variety and figure out what is best for you. Whatever you choose, hopefully you are able to challenge yourself and find experiences that will be so fulfilling you will only want to move forward on this new path.

Addiction and mental health issues are not always going to feed in to one another. However, they can end up forming a vicious cycle when left untreated. Even if you are fortunate to never face serious mental illness problems, it will still be beneficial to you to work on your mental health. When you are in a better place mentally, you are better equipped to fight addiction. Mental health and addiction are both complex issues and not something you can solve by yourself. Engaging in these light activities with the support of your community will be important steps in your recovery.

*Resources:
Harvard- Yoga for anxiety and depression
US National Library of Medicine – Meditation and Psychiatry
Newsweek – 1 in 5 suffer from a mental illness
Psychology Today – Kitchen Therapy

The Benefits of Yoga for Men in Addiction Recovery


Long gone are the days when the only people doing yoga were women adorned in tie-dye dresses and flowing wavy hairstyles. Now, with strong iconic men like Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and other professional athletes practicing yoga, the old stereotypes are fading away.

Many professional sports teams encourage their players to engage in regular yoga for flexibility and injury prevention. Bodybuilders incorporate yoga into their routines to improve range of motion and muscle stability.

The Many Health Benefits of Doing YogaHow Men Can Benefit From Doing Yoga in Addiction Recovery

The health benefits of yoga have been documented in numerous scientific studies. Researchers have found so many health benefits, in fact, it is almost easier to say what yoga does not improve than what it does.

For example, did you know doing yoga improves your sex life? Yes, yoga increases libido and sexual performance.

Here are just a few of the many health benefits of yoga:

Mind

  • Helps depression
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Helps anxiety
  • Encourages feelings of well-being

Body

  • Improves flexibility
  • Strengthens bones
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Decreases pain

Spirit

  • Inspires a healthy lifestyle
  • Focuses you on the present
  • Gives you peace of mind
  • Builds awareness through meditation
  • Encourages self-care

Yoga as an Addiction Recovery Tool

Yoga is an important part of a holistic addiction recovery program aimed at healing the whole person – mind, body and spirit. It promotes a sense of inner peace and calm, lessens pain, and helps men deal with anxiety, depression and other psychological complications.

Often men who become addicted to drugs or alcohol are escaping pain, physically or emotionally. And sometimes hidden pain, once masked by the use of a substance, appears during recovery. Having alternatives to ease the discomfort, like yoga, can make the difference in a successful rehabilitation.

Doing yoga helps to keep the body’s stress hormones down and the mood-boosting chemicals up. An improved mood and emotional outlook gives people strength toward recovery and avoiding relapse.

Yoga as an Aid to Healing

Yogis often report feeling strong and empowered after a yoga session. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, you can incorporate them into yoga philosophy. The philosophy is simply about stilling the mind and balancing the nervous system. You can transcend your present experience. It can get better.

Try out a couple of yoga poses for yourself. And if you cannot go into the postures completely, accept yourself, breathe deeply and think affirming thoughts. Work within your own abilities.

Chair Pose — Utkatasana

The Chair Pose is great for men in particular.

Mind:  Also called Thunderbolt Pose, this posture is about attaining power and fierceness.

Body:  This exercise strengthens ankles, shoulders, glutes, spine and quads. It also stimulates the abs and diaphragm.

Spirit:  Holding this pose and staying in the moment shows you are serious about growth in your life and forging your own way to success.

Below are step-by-step instructions, as well as a demo video.

  • Stand with your feet apart at hip width.
  • Inhale deeply while bringing your hands straight above your head, palms open.
  • Exhale slowly while bending your knees as if you are sitting on an invisible chair.
  • Shift your weight onto your heels while breathing smoothly and evenly.
  • Hold the Chair Pose for one minute, then exhale while bringing your arms to your sides and standing.

Child’s Pose — Balasana

This pose is especially good for addiction recovery.

Mind:  Holding this pose relieves anxiety and mental fatigue. It inspires feelings of safety and security.

Body:  This exercise stretches your back and arms, relieves shoulder tension and relaxes your entire body.

Spirit:  During this pose, focus on the affirmation: “I rest in trust and patience.”

Here are the steps for the pose and a demo video:

  • Kneel down on a mat or carpet.
  • Inhale deeply while sitting back on your heels.
  • Exhale slowly while laying your head forward onto the floor.
  • Lay your arms down by your sides, palms up.
  • Hold the Child’s Pose for five minutes.

Yoga at Reflections Recovery Center

Yoga is one of the many cutting-edge therapies we employ at Reflections Recovery Center as part of our holistic treatment program.  We have tailored our yoga program specifically for addiction recovery.

Men in our program benefit from yoga because it reconnects them with their body, reintroduces them to healthy and natural physical sensation, reduces stress, and induces feelings of peace and contentment.

Learn More About Our Holistic Approach to Addiction Treatment:

Reflections’ Holistic Program