May 4

88. Post-Recovery Tips: Practice Good Habits

They really do make a difference!

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Every now and then I’ll write an edition of The Anxious Morning that shines a light on what my life and my mental health looks like post-recovery. Today I want to talk about the importance of maintaining good habits.

The lessons that I learned during my recovery, and the lessons life continues to teach me, tell me that it is important for me to maintain good habits with respect to my physical and mental well-being. For many years I made the mistake of believing that I am a machine and that the usual rules don’t apply to me. Well guess what? While we all have different “performance levels” even those of us with machine-like performance levels need to take care of ourselves.

Why didn’t someone tell me that?

Actually, lots of people told me that. I was just too stubborn to listen to them.

When it comes to good habits in my life, there are a few that I like to think of as my foundation. They include regular meditation practice, mindfulness practice, making an effort to not race through every day, taking time to relax and unwind, and moving my body regularly.

When I commit to these habits and to taking steps to practice them and maintain them, I find that my performance level remains pretty high, my stress level doesn’t get out of control, and that I am generally more satisfied and happy with the work I’m doing and with my life in general. When I allow myself to go off the rails - which does happen sometimes - I can feel the change within days. I get moodier and more withdrawn. I get short tempered. I start to feel physically sluggish and more tired, and my focus skills begin to suffer. It’s no fun.

Maintaining these good habits is effort. It doesn’t happen automatically. I’ve had to accept more routine and planning in my life than I’d otherwise like, but this leads to good things. I put my good habit things on my calendar and in my task manager. Every morning when I wake up, I know I have meditating, moving, reading/learning, and relaxing on my to do list as real things that must be done. Sometimes that seems silly, but the reminders are good for me. They help keep me connected to good physical and mental health, which makes my life better on many many fronts.

So when people ask me if I struggle with anxiety now, the answer is absolutely NO. I do not struggle with anxiety like I used to. But life after recovery is not automatically sunshine and rainbows all the time, because it’s not like that for any human being. We all deserve good mental health, but we also have to work at that, so even after recovery developing and maintaining healthy habits that tend to your body and mind is just a good idea for more reasons than I can list.

What good habits can you see for yourself beyond recovery?