As you’re planning your sober future, take utmost care to ensure that you’re giving yourself enough mental and physical stimulation, nourishing social connection, and setting short-term goals for self-improvement to keep you motivated and on track. One of the most surefire ways to keep yourself healthy and balanced is to join an athletic team or sports group. Combining regular physical exercise with a social support system helps support your recovery on multiple fronts and has the bonus of being a fun, inexpensive activity that you can do with anyone. Of course, during these times the sports chosen would be played outdoors and have the ability to socially distance yourself from others.
Redirect Your Brainpower
On top of its obvious physical health benefits, playing sports can work wonders for the health of your brain and mind. Regular exercise can promote increased blood flow to the brain, improving your quick thinking abilities and problem-solving skills. It can sharpen your memory and critical thinking faculties. Research also indicates that playing sports allows a person to better filter out mental and physical noise and static, stay focused on the task at hand, and develop a healthier nervous system. These benefits are especially helpful for people struggling with addiction, as they can help you keep your eye on the prize of staying sober and working towards a successful recovery. Committing to an athletic team is committing to a workout for your brain as well as your body.
Playing sports, especially on a team, can also promote effective stress relief and act as a healthy outlet for strong emotions of all kinds. A physically active brain produces more dopamine, the neural chemical that makes you feel good. At the same time, athletic activity can burn off adrenaline, leaving you feeling especially relaxed and satisfied after an intense game or practice. The same burning off of adrenaline also makes you less prone to aggression, anxiety, and restless energy for days after you’ve walked off the field. Many people in recovery turn to exercise to help act as a reliable, safe outlet for negative emotions and chemicals, since exercise allows you to not only dispose of unwanted aggression but to even convert it into feeling better about your body, mind, and social connections.
Building Bodily Awareness and Strength
It’s no secret that regular physical exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body. Whether you play basketball, soccer, tennis, or football, participating in athletic activities is guaranteed to put your body through some rigorous paces. Running, jumping, kicking, and other actions you’ll take in gameplay are perfect examples of cardio and muscle training. Swimming, rowing, and jogging are examples of other forms of group exercise that are particularly effective for strengthening and toning your body, developing stamina, and gaining bodily awareness--the feeling that you’re firmly present within your physical body at any given moment. This is a physiological phenomenon that can act in tandem with mindfulness, leading to greater mental clarity and comfort in your own skin.
One of the hardest parts of addiction to break free from is the mental whirlpool that causes you to be stuck thinking about your failures, your mistakes, and your anxieties about facing the future. Playing sports combats these insidious mental habits on multiple fronts: it strengthens your mental clarity through building bodily awareness, it builds your confidence as you exercise your body, it reinforces your knowledge that you can improve yourself, and it places you within a supportive and encouraging team environment with people who want to see you succeed. For these reasons, joining an athletic team or group is one of the healthiest steps you can take towards achieving healing and success in recovery.
The Healing Power of Teamwork
The benefits of joining a sports team extend beyond the physical. One of the key components of being part of an athletic team is that it helps keep isolation at bay. Isolation poses one of the greatest dangers to your recovery. Without regularly checking in with the reality of the outside world, it can be all too easy to sink into the dark corners of your mind, from which vantage point nothing seems achievable and your mission of sobriety looks like a foolish attempt at fighting the inevitable.
Joining a group of people such as an athletic team gives you the chance to have reliable, consistent social check-ins that will help lift you out of any fog you might find yourself in, however momentarily. Sometimes it just takes one push to regain your motivation to break free from the cycle of depression, and the regular social participation of meeting with your team can provide that push.
The roots of addiction run deep, affecting every part of your life. Accordingly, recovery is a process that must be fought on multiple fronts. One of the healthiest things you can do for your recovery is joining a sports team, athletic group, or exercise community. The combination of intense physical activity and a positive, encouraging group of peers can work wonders for healing the physical and mental components of addiction. START UP RECOVERY is a comprehensive sober living center that offers an exclusive level of personal guidance and environmental amenities to make your transition into your new life a successful one. We help each client make lasting plans for developing their sober future and make connections to resources designed to elevate their recovery. Don’t go it alone--take this opportunity to rebuild your life and walk into the future you deserve with confidence. Call us at 310-773-3809 to learn more.