Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy recovery. Proponents of holistic therapies like meditation, acupuncture and yoga will tell you that they improve mental and physical health in more natural, less invasive ways, and they’re becoming increasingly common in addiction recovery. These five holistic therapies are often used to augment more traditional approaches to treatment.
Meditation is known to lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety, reduce symptoms of depression and improve quality of sleep. In recovery, achieving such equilibrium can prime you for healing. By relaxing the mind, you can relax the entire body. Instead of trying to “turn off” your brain, meditation focuses on increasing mindfulness by learning how to observe without judgment. Concentrating on your breath, your emotions and the surrounding environment can help you recognize the external triggers that cause automatic responses.
Traditional Chinese medicine says that energy, or chi, flows through specific pathways in the body. When illness, pain and inflammation arise, they block the flow of energy through those pathways. Acupuncture, which has been used for more than 2,000 years, involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into the skin at specific pressure points to restore and rebalance energy flow.
Clinical studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in treating a range of diseases, symptoms and conditions, including nausea, neck pain, hypertension, lower back pain and rheumatoid arthritis. It promotes relaxation and calms the nervous system, reduces anxiety, promotes the healing of internal organs and helps detoxify the liver.
Mounting evidence shows its uses in addiction recovery. During detox, acupuncture is used to reduce pain and combat cravings, and it’s also known to improve retention rates in recovery programs.
3. Yoga Therapy
There is a myriad of benefits of yoga, from stress and pain relief to increased energy levels and self-awareness. Just 20 minutes of yoga can improve cognitive function. Because of this, it’s becoming increasingly common in addiction recovery programs to prevent relapse, reduce cravings and serve as an outlet for stressors.
Addiction is a disease where the mind and body feel unstable without substances. A strong mind-body connection is critical to a healthy, lasting recovery, which is where yoga comes in. It strengthens the mind and body and helps people feel more comfortable in their skin.
4. Nature Therapy
Compared to other parts of the world, the United States is relatively disconnected from the world around us. It’s important for everyone to get outside, but the therapeutic benefits of nature are especially useful for those in recovery.
In a world that can make us feel bogged down, nature helps you understand that you’re a part of something that’s alive. Nature is a complex, living thing, yet everything coexists naturally, as it has since the beginning on time. By realizing that you are a part of nature, you can feel a stronger sense of purpose, connection and belonging, as well as a sincere appreciation for something that is bigger than any one person.
Spending time outside helps you become a part of nature. It’s a sensory experience that increases presence and awareness. A simple walk outside can decrease anxiety and negative feelings. Even a view of nature through a window correlates with good health, job satisfaction and overall quality of life. Patients in intensive care units who just looked at images of trees and water reported lower levels of anxiety and a reduced need for pain medication.
Given Immersion Recovery Center’s proximity to beaches, hiking trails and other outdoor recreational activities, nature is a big part of our treatment plans. We routinely make trips to nearby green spaces to relax, exercise and just enjoy the outdoors.
5. Nutritional Therapy
Substance abuse and poor eating habits often go hand in hand. Nutritional imbalance can intensify cravings for drugs or alcohol and can exacerbate depression and anxiety. In the early stages of sobriety, increased cravings for sugar, caffeine and nicotine are common, as the brain is seeking mood-altering chemicals. While these substances are not nearly as dangerous as drugs or alcohol, they can still send the body and mind on an emotional and physical rollercoaster that can trigger a relapse.
Proper nutrition can improve the microbiota and rewire the brain, as well as reduce dependence on substances like sugar and caffeine and cleanse the body of toxins. A quality nutrition program can help people recover more quickly and maintain sobriety for more extended periods of time. By working with a nutritional therapist, a client can get a personalized meal plan that supports his or her recovery and establishes healthier eating habits and cooking skills.
At Immersion Recovery Center, nutrition is a significant component of our individualized treatment programs. We know our clients’ nutritional needs and have a classically-trained gourmet chef who prepares meals using fresh, whole ingredients.
Holistic practices enhance recovery, but they should not be used as the only methods of treatment. For the best chance at a lasting recovery, things like proper nutrition and acupuncture need to be combined with more traditional, evidence-based approaches to treatment. Immersion Recovery Center takes an all-encompassing approach to treatment, utilizing the 12-step philosophy as it relates to other therapeutic modalities. Learn more about how our treatment programs can help you or someone you love heal by calling 561.419.3349.