By Crystal Hampton
In today’s society the demands and expectations of women is often an unattainable goal. This can leave many of us exhausted, feeling depressed, with low self esteem, and never feeling like we are “doing enough”. Those of us who are also mothers face even more stressors, demands, and pressures in their everyday lives. For women like myself who are in recovery and struggle with addiction, and substance abuse problems it is imperative that we engage in healthy habits to remain sober.
Taking time from work, our families, and our many other obligations can seem “selfish” but if we are not healthy, happy, and sober we are of no use to anyone else around us. Taking care of our mind, body, and spirit through these healthy habits and coping skills will help us live the beautiful life in recovery we all deserve!
I can remember having anxiety as young as five years old. I would ring my hands together and was constantly worried about something. I was five years old what could I possibly have to be worried or stressed about? But that is just how anxiety works, there is no rhyme or reason to it. It feels like you are constantly about to fall off a ledge. I also have always been a perfectionist so if I was not the best at something in my eyes I was a failure. This only fueled my anxiety and depression because I always felt like I was never good enough, or at least that’s what I told myself every day.
My depression was at its worst when I was a little older, and I had my first suicide attempt at 15. I tried self medicating with drugs and alcohol for years, which only led to worse depression and several more suicide attempts because I felt as if there was no other way out from how I was feeling. I just wanted to give up.
My journey in recovery began when I was 34 and my addiction has spiraled out of control. I knew nothing about addiction or that there was another way of life. Through treatment, working a program, and engaging in these healthy habits for recovery I have been sober for three years now. I have utilize these habits to deal with my anxiety and depression, and become the happy, strong woman today.
Mindful meditation is when individuals seek to achieve a mode of consciousness that relaxes their minds and instills a sense of contentedness. But mediation can do more than just reduce stress and pain. The practice can also play an important role in helping an individual overcome a substance abuse problem.
Engaging in healthy habits such as meditation also lowers the chance of relapse.These practices over the course of time create new neurological pathways in the brain, or retraining your brain from the unhealthy habits in addiction to healthy ones through mindfulness.
I was one of those people who thought that meditation would not work for me and was a waste of time. I could not have been more wrong! I have always suffered from anxiety, depression, racing thoughts, and insomnia. I always had feelings of impending doom even when nothing was wrong and could never slow my mind down, I was constantly stressed and exhausted.
When I did try to meditate I would give up after only a couple of minutes because I could not quite my mind. It was not until I started doing guided meditations that everything changed! Once I pushed through the first couple of minutes and actually gave it a chance my thoughts began to slow and my body began to relax. It took some time but guided meditation is now a habit I engage in once or twice a day. I have found that it helps to keep me centered and has helped me with my anxiety, depression, racing thoughts, insomnia, and all aspects in my recovery.
A huge part of recovery is connecting with other addicts and alcoholics. This is because no one knows what it is like better than someone who has battled the same disease as us, and can show us a new way to live. The women in AA loved me until I could love myself. Women who had more time than me helped to guide me through my early recovery with their own experience, and the women who were in the same place as me in their recovery helped me to have someone who also know exactly what I was going through at that moment. Finding new hobbies with the women I’ve grown to admire, keeps me grounded and away from old temptations. One of the greatest blessings in my life has been my sponsor who took me through my steps. I am now able to help others and give back what I was so freely given. The fellowship and support I found in the rooms of AA and NA saved my life.
As many of us have when I was in treatment I spent hours on end sitting in groups and going to meetings. Don’t even get me started on the emotional eating that I did either! After two months in treatment I felt sluggish, tired, depressed, and uncomfortable in my own skin because the weight I had gained. I made every excuse not to go to the gym or engage in any sort of physical activity. This turned in isolation, negative self talk, and worsening depression. It was highly suggested to me by many others and therapists that just for the mental wellness aspects that being active would be greatly beneficial for me.
I will never forget the day when I had enough and begrudgingly tied up my tennis shoes. Walking into the gym that first day was definitely the hardest, and I hated every second I was there. I am not going to lie the first couple of weeks were not much better, but I started to see a huge improvement in my mental state. My depression had eased, I was eating healthier, and had more energy. Going to the gym went from something I dreaded to something I enjoyed, and looked forward too.
A major key in living a healthy and happy life in recovery is developing healthy habits that best suit you. Consistency is quintessential and vital to maintaining a new way of living. This will provide a sense of purpose, and wellbeing. Engaging in these activities will then make the negative habits we have engaged in for so many years less appealing and live a beautiful life in sobriety.
The main benefits that have emerged from me getting sober are the peace I have in mind, body, and spirit. I am able to show up for others, and extend a hand to other addicts and alcoholics. I have saved myself and everyone in my life from the pain I caused in my in my addictive addiction and am able to make a living amends to them every day I am sober.
Crystal Hampton is 37 years old and 3 years sober. She works for Recovery Local, a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. The company was founded by and staffed with recovering addicts cultivating recovery resources through sharing their own experiences, strengths, and hope.