Category Archives: Healthy Living

Choosing Your Friends Wisely

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Friends having a picnic

Friends are an important part of your recovery. Shortly after treatment, it’s helpful to build a strong support network that includes friends and family. Plus, friends help you avoid boredom and isolation, two things that can sabotage a healthy recovery. But, it’s important to know that not all friends are the same. You must be careful about the people you choose to surround yourself with, as some will be good influences on your recovery and some may not.

As you identify the best friends to add to your support network, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Make some places off limits. Let your friends know what places are off limits right from the start. Bars, nightclubs and wine tastings are obvious no-nos but there may be other places that you aren’t comfortable going to yet, such as sports games and restaurants.

  • No drinking. A friend in support of your recovery should not drink in front of you, let alone get intoxicated. Make it clear that this type of activity cannot be tolerated right now. Sometimes, non-addicts don’t realize the intensity of these actions.

  • Your sobriety comes first. Again, a friend who supports you knows that your sobriety comes first. This means that if you want to hang out, it needs to be done around your AA groups and counseling sessions. True friends will accommodate your new schedule so that you’re not left out.

Where to Find Friends

You may be lucky enough to have some great friends that have stood by your recovery. You may still be looking for some. To make friends in early sobriety, attend sober events that are hosted by your local park district or library. Or, choose events where you know alcohol won’t be served such as a ceramics class or book club.

You can also connect with the people in your AA group. Some may have sober events they’d be happy to include you on. The more you connect with others, the more opportunities you will have to meet other people. Just be sure to choose your friends wisely. As you become more comfortable in your recovery, you can extend yourself further. But for now, you need the best influences in your life.

Create a Healthy Schedule to Combat Anxiety

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calendar

One of the best ways to combat anxiety is to create a schedule and stick to it. You can be flexible and accommodating to change, but it helps to know what is coming next. Plus, when you recognize the types of things that make you nervous, you can build a schedule that is both constructive and protective.

Having a consistent routine is especially important over the holiday season when things are more stressful and unpredictable. Below are some tips to help you fight back from the anxiety you may be feeling.

Get Enough Sleep

People don’t put enough importance on sleep, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your health and stress levels. It’s recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Without adequate rest, you can experience greater levels of stress and anxiety. To encourage a restful night, there are a few things you can do.

  • Create a relaxing environment in your bedroom

  • Put away digital devices at least one hour before bed

  • Take a relaxing shower or bath

  • Try meditation, yoga or visualizing positive images

  • Read a good book or write in a journal

  • Use soothing lighting and scents, such as lavender

Improve Your Diet

Your diet is linked to your recovery. By eating the right foods, you help heal your body and replenish it with vitamins and minerals. This will give you energy to get through your days and also fight off food cravings, which can be mistaken for drug cravings.

A diet that is high in protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables is best. Here are a few foods that are known for reducing stress: green leafy veggies, green tea, chamomile tea, berries, cashews and dark chocolate. Keep them on hand!

Make Time for Exercise

There is something for everyone to enjoy in the exercise category. The key is finding it! If you don’t like traditional exercises (running, biking, weight lifting), try something different. Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins in the brain and can improve sleep. Some of our favorite exercises include dancing, yoga, tai chi, martial arts, pilates and swimming. Even a walk around the neighborhood pushes you to be outdoors, meeting other people and boosting self-confidence.

Clean Up Clutter

If you’re in a messy place, it’s hard to feel calm. Take some time to get your space in order. You can do this for 15 minutes each day. This way, your home can be a relaxing place for you to retreat to. Some tips for getting started are:

  • Get rid of the things you don’t use/need (always start with non-sentimental items).

  • Make a list of the areas in the home you want de-cluttered and cross them off when you’re done. This creates a sense of accomplishment.

  • Create bins that are marked with save, throw away and donate. You can easily drop items into their respective bins.

  • Donate items to a non-profit organization. Finding your purpose is important, and it all starts by helping others.

  • Designate spots to place items that easily build up, such as incoming papers and bills.  

Schedules are helpful for everyone, especially those in recovery. You’ll feel more at ease knowing what comes next in your day and how to prepare. For more information on how to build a healthy routine, visit Recovery.org.

Drink Up! How Water Can Boost Your Recovery

Water

Recovery is more than stopping the use of drugs and alcohol. This is a time for the body to repair itself. To accomplish this, recovering addicts must focus on eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet that consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats. However, many people forget the importance of hydration. 

Keeping the body hydrated is crucial, as it can boost recovery and speed up healing times. Let’s learn more about the role that water plays in the recovery process.

Why Dehydration is a Major Health Problem

Water is essential for the body to function. The human body is made up of 65 percent water, which is needed for various processes and reactions such as circulation, metabolism, body temperature and waste removal. If the body doesn’t have enough water, these physiological processes can be impaired. 

Unfortunately, many people spend their days dehydrated. According to a recent study, more than half of American children are dehydrated and one-quarter do not drink water on a regular basis. Adults are no better. A 2013 report from CBS found that up to 75 percent of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration.

Signs of Dehydration

Once the body has lost 1 to 2 percent of its water content, it sends a signal to make you feel thirsty. By the time thirst kicks in, the body is already dehydrated. Here are some of the signals that the body needs water.

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Muscle cramps

  • Poor concentration

  • Mood swings

  • Bad breath

  • Infrequent urination

  • Chills

  • Joint pain

  • Constipation

  • Headache

Water’s Role in Recovery

Being dehydrated can lead to hunger cravings, in particular, sugar cravings. Managing these cravings is imperative during early recovery, as they can be mistaken for drug cravings. Keeping the body hydrated gives the body an extra layer of protection against relapse.

Water also plays an important role during detoxification. Proper hydration helps the body be efficient during detox and withdrawal, as it flushes toxins out the digestive and urinary systems. With the removal of harmful toxins, cravings are reduced. Also, proper water intake helps the body’s cells revert to their normal state.

Summing it Up

Eating a balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your body in early recovery, but don’t overlook the importance of staying hydrated. Water is best, but fruit juices, flavored water and tea are good choices as well. You can also get water by filling out your diet with broths and soups and drinking water with each meal.

Drunk Driving on Halloween

Coffee art

Did you know that fatal drunk driving crashes are more likely to happen on Halloween than New Year’s Eve? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatal crashes involving a drunk driver are three times more likely to take place on October 31 than New Year’s Eve.

NHTSA statistics also point out that between 2009 and 2013 on Halloween night, 43 percent of all motor vehicle deaths involved alcohol. In 2013, 26 percent of all pedestrian fatalities on Halloween involved a drunk driver as well. If the holiday falls on a weekend, the numbers are even higher because people often drink for several hours or more.  

Halloween is Growing in Popularity

Halloween has been gaining popularity over the years, with people of all ages throwing costume parties and dressing up. Many of these costume parties are elaborate and include scary decorations, games, appetizers and alcohol. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the hype surrounding Halloween and the dangerous people that can be on the roads.

Tips for Being Safe on Halloween

There is no excuse to get in a car after drinking. Between public transportation and car riding services like Lyft or Uber, there are plenty of ways to get home safely. Here are a few tips to share with friends and family.

Don’t Drink and Drive

This might sound like common knowledge, but the statistics prove that far too many people don’t listen. In 2015, over 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes – that’s about one every hour. This does not include the tens of thousands of other people who have been hurt or permanently disabled.

Avoid Distraction

Between glitter, fake blood, hair dye and bulky costumes, there are plenty of distractions that can get you into trouble on Halloween. Distracted driving accounted for over 387,000 injuries in 2011. Even if your costume isn’t distracting, it’s likely that a car full of other people dressed up will be. If this is the case, opt for public transportation instead.

Don’t Text and Drive

If you’re trying to coordinate several Halloween parties, make your arrangements in advance and stay off the phone while driving. If it’s urgent, pull over and text, or let one of your passengers handle the messaging. Remember, it’s not just cars to pay attention to on Halloween but pedestrians as well.

Halloween is meant to be spooky and fun, but don’t let alcohol ruin the day!

Enjoy a Sober Labor Day with These 5 Mocktails

Limes and strawberries

Labor Day is here! It’s the last hurrah before the unofficial end of summer. As a recovering alcoholic, it’s normal to have some reservations about attending a Labor Day party. Because everyone is different, always discuss your options with a counselor, addiction specialist or AA sponsor.

Depending on where you are in your recovery, it might be best to throw your own sober party. If you do think you’re ready to be with friends, bring along a mocktail. Having something fun to drink will take attention off you. If you have a drink in hand, you don’t need to be asked if you want one!

Here are five of our favorite mocktail recipes that will make your sober Labor Day celebrations a blast!

  1. Pretty Pink Punch (Taste of Home)

We love this recipe because it’s super simple to make – and it looks lovely for a summer party. Once you gather the ingredients, dissolve the sugar in water. Add the juices and lemonade and mix well. The last part is to stir in the ginger ale, which you can do right before serving. If you would like, add fresh lemon slices. Delicious! Get the full recipe here.

  1. Non-Alcoholic Sangria (Tablespoon)

Sangria is a popular beverage for summer parties because it’s refreshing and elegant! This recipe for non-alcoholic sangria is beautiful thanks to the large pieces of fruit. To start, simply fill a pitcher with juice, sparkling water and ginger ale. Next, add in the fruit slices which include kiwi, oranges, star fruit, limes and cranberries. Serve the drink immediately or let it chill. See how it’s done here.

  1. White After Labor Day (Kristi Dukoff of Gracie’s)

This is another easy, tasty recipe that even the kids can have! Simply mix and strain the ingredients – bottled water, tea syrup, lemon juice, white peach puree and lavender. This recipe isn’t difficult to make, but the ingredients involve a deeper search. Have fun with it, and if you can’t find lavender, garnish the drink with lemon instead. Get the recipe at Parenting.com.

  1. Caramel Apple Pie Mocktail (Mary About Town)

With fall just around the corner, a caramel apple pie mocktail is fitting! This recipe is a bit more involved than our other recipes but so worth it! Start by mixing the apple cider with caramel syrup and cinnamon. Cut the apples into slices and add them to the pitcher, along with rosemary sprigs. After 20 minutes, pour in the sparkling water and rim the glass edges with golden brown sugar. Pour in the drink and voila! Get the recipe here.

  1. Lemon Ice Tea Mix (Taste of Home)

Lemon ice tea mix is great for large crowds because it’s inexpensive and simple to make. All you need is sugar, unsweetened instant tea and unsweetened lemonade soft drink mix. In fact, you can store the drink mix in an airtight container for up to 6 months! Add fresh lemon wedges if you desire. For the full recipe, click here.

The River Source team wishes you a safe, sober and healthy Labor Day!

Putting Together a Meal Plan for Addiction Recovery

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Introducing healthy eating during an addiction treatment program is not an easy task. Recovering addicts are going through so many changes, they often aren’t open to starting a new diet plan. However, as we all know, addicts cannot continue eating the same foods they’ve been relying on. Their bodies are likely depleted, malnourished and possibly even damaged. Healthy eating should be a priority.

Why Nutrition is Important

Sometimes, families feel that it’s too much to ask their loved one to give up the foods they enjoy while getting sober. However, giving recovering addicts full access to chips, cookies and crackers can be dangerous. High fat, salty and sweet foods are easy to binge on. The brain doesn’t heal on these types of foods, putting a recovering addict at a higher risk for relapse.

We’re not suggesting that all “comfort foods” should be eliminated. We realize that it’s enjoyable to have a handful of chips or a couple of cookies after dinner. The key is to keep these foods in moderation and start introducing nutritious options such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Recovering addicts may also benefit from a multivitamin that can help them restore their body. However, please be aware that vitamins do not replace the need to eat healthy foods.

Sample Meal Plan

To help recovering addicts and their families, we like to put together sample meal plans. This makes it easier to visualize the types of meals that can be served in the home. It’s easier than you think – and your loved one will learn to enjoy these foods! In fact, this may be an opportunity for everyone in the family to get healthier!

Always focus on well-rounded meals that include plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and protein. Your loved one should get most of their antioxidants, vitamins and minerals from food.

  • Breakfast: Fruit smoothie with mixed berries, Greek yogurt, flaxseed and almond milk.

  • Morning snack: Whole grain slice of toast with almond butter and hard boiled egg.

  • Lunch: Plate of raw veggies topped with grilled chicken and a side of bean soup.

  • Afternoon snack: Piece of fresh fruit, string cheese or a handful of nuts.

  • Dinner: Quinoa, salmon, cooked vegetable and green salad.

  • Snack: Bowl of frozen sherbet topped with pine nuts.

The key is not to rush anything in early recovery. It will take time to adjust to all the changes, including eating healthy. Focus on what can be eaten, not the foods that can’t. Eating the right foods should never feel like a punishment. Instead, it should be a complementary part of a healthy and satisfying recovery process.