If you’ve been away from work and family life for rehab, or even just recovering after an illness or injury, it’s time to pause for a moment and look ahead to the long-haul: how to persist and stay healthy even when you return to the hustle and demands of everyday life.
Here are 5 keys to staying healthy at work (and in life) during recovery.
1. Make the Time
With a family, a job, the commute, meal prep and clean-up, mountains of laundry, friends and family calling, birthday parties to attend, etc. it’s easy to look at daily life as one really long To Do list. In some ways, it is. You have to go to work. You have to eat. So does your family.
But if all we ever do is run from task to task, we run the risk of running out of steam, falling down under the pressure, and returning to bad habits.
You have to take the time, make the time, for you.
Stretch for just 5 seconds every 30 minutes. Drink a cup of water every two hours. Eat healthy food that gives you lasting energy, not just the fastest thing to make sure you are fed. Get some exercise, if even just a walk, every other day.
When you make the time for yourself you have more to give to others, and you are investing in long-term recovery.
2. Cut Out Negative Voices
Perhaps nothing is a more important self-preservation tactic than cutting out the negative voices in our lives: in our own head and from others. If you find that a “friend” or loved one cannot help but criticize you, limit your time around that person. If you find your inner voice speaks to you in a way you would never talk to yourself, cut it out. If you find your social media newsfeed or TV spread fear and spew negativity, turn them off (or unfollow those naysayers).
When you are in recovery, surround yourself with encouragement.
Get help with those voices as needed, from a peer coach or a counselor or other trusted confident.
If you look for positive people, who make you feel like the best version of yourself, you will find them. Sometimes even looking for such people is a new habit.
3. Get Enough Rest
Sleep is a crucial part of physical and mental health as well as recovery. If you are not sleeping well and you are in recovery, turning to sleep aid medication can be a dangerous gamble. Instead, consider working with a practitioner to explore one of the many natural ways to get better sleep.
At the very least, lay down for a while. Don’t sell yourself short on sleep. It’s one of the most important ways you can take care of yourself.
Did you grandmother tell you “early to bed, early to rise”? Well, there’s evidence to support the truth of that statement. Though our work schedules might require alternate sleep patterns, if you can get to bed early and get up early, you may find you get in the habit of the best sleep of your life.
In addition to sleep, food, water and exercise, mediation has been proven to assist mental state. When you learn to meditate do not fight your thoughts, but rather allow them to pass through your mind uninhibited and move on. Meditation is often called a “practice,” and it is indeed something you can work at and need not expect perfection.
Meditation has been proven to calm the mind, improve concentration, reduce stress, and even possibly slow aging. Mediating may make you happier, drug-free.
Even if you can only squeeze in 5 minutes a day of meditation, the benefits accumulate with regular practice.
How do you possibly have time on your To Do list to volunteer!? Honestly, you might not, but you should make the time anyway. Even if you only volunteer somewhere twice per year. Even if you are convinced you do not have any worthwhile skills.
You may be surprised how much your community needs you.
When we volunteer in our communities, through service clubs, church groups or even just helping a neighbor with a chore, we are really the ones who reap the rewards.
- Make you a part of something bigger, connecting you to projects that might be too big for you to do alone.
- Introduce you to people who become important connections or friendships.
- Improve your social and business skills.
- Teach you a new trade.
- Increase your self-confidence.
- Help you bond with family or other participants.
- Increase your happiness.
If you have successfully completed a rehab program, volunteering at your local rehab can also help reinforce your recovery while you help others to make positive life changes.
Have other ideas for how to stay healthy at work during recovery? Tell us about them!