Often enough, those of us who strive to live a “clean-and-sober” life wonder to ourselves, “What more can I be doing to strengthen my recovery foundation?” And it’s actually a fair question to be asking regularly, especially if we’re in the first year of our recovery. Given how a substance use disorder had taken over our lives—addiction driving us to excessively drink and/or use and run rampant in our behavior—it’s a basic requirement that we all move in the direction of finding a healthy balance in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of our daily existence. That is, if we’re to establish and sustain a new life free from active addiction.
While maintaining a healthy balance can be challenging, here are four activities—one for each of the four major areas of our lives—you can take to enhance your recovery.
1) PHYSICAL: Daily exercise can be a hugely beneficial addition to your routine. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise improves your mood, gives you more energy, helps prevent or manage many health problems, including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and many types of cancer. Exercise also helps control weight (by burning calories, you prevent excess weight gain), boosts energy (extra oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your tissues and your cardiovascular system improves in efficiency) and promotes better sleep (you can fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply).
2) MENTAL: Cognitive health is increasingly recognized as a key component of overall health and wellness. As with other dimensions of health and wellness, deliberate effort is needed to maintain and especially improve cognitive health. Challenging the brain with specific activities is the second, more direct means toward cognitive health, such as with the following cognitive exercises and games. According to the Harvard Medical School, some low-tech, low-cost, effective options for cognitive strengthening—which are available to most people with not a huge amount of effort—include learning a new language, listening to or making music, playing cards, board games or electronic games, and doing puzzles.
3) EMOTIONAL: Practice gratitude every night before you go to sleep. While there may be countless ways to accomplish this, two approaches are: a) formally writing a gratitude list on paper or electronically on a computer or cellphone (some people choose a specific number of “things I’m grateful for” to add to the list each night; for example, 5 items per night, with no repeats) or b) recounting the day at bedtime, and during the review identifying everything one feels gratitude for. Only good can come from filling your heart with appreciation, thankfulness, love and other positive feelings of gratitude.
4) SPIRITUAL: Choosing to spend at least a few minutes a day in quiet meditation, contemplation or prayer can bring forward that much-desired and deeply beneficial state of inner peace. With so much happening in our fast-paced lives, increasing the amount of spiritual connection you feel within can add a valuable layer of equanimity to how you respond to what your day puts on your plate/ “Life showing up” does not have to throw you for a loop, drive you crazy or make you want to use. On the contrary, establishing greater serenity through a daily inward dive can bolster your ability to respond in the very best way to whatever arises, ensuring the likelihood of you simply “doing the next right thing.”
To stay “clean and serene” one day at a time, consider adding any one (or more) of these four activities to your regular routine. And if they work well for you, pass them along to someone in your recovery network who you sense could use a boost to their recovery!
 Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity – Mayo Clinic
 Bart, R., Ishak, W. W., Ganjian, S., Jaffer, K. Y., Abdelmesseh, M., Hanna, S., … Danovitch, I. (2018). The assessment and measurement of wellness in the clinical medical setting: A systematic review. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 15(9–10), 14–23.