Exercise as A Way to Cope
By Dr. Charlotte Wincott, PhD
Charlotte Wincott is a neuroscientist and filmmaker. Her award-winning short films have been screened internationally and touch on topics related to mental health and psychology. Dr. Wincott holds a PhD from NYU in neuroscience.
Finding ways to cope with our feelings without using substances is key to keeping us in recovery. This is not always the easiest thing to do, because when something difficult happens in our lives, we want to blunt or change unpleasant feelings as quickly as possible. No one likes feeling anxious or down, and it’s normal to want to feel better. Learning healthy habits to cope with these temporary emotions is part of the recovery process and will give us the foundation we need to make the right choices in the moment when we are faced with tough situations.
It’s important to have a toolbox of activities that lift you up – things to do that are cheap, easy, and can make you feel good right away. At the top of my own list is exercise. That always makes me feel better and there’s a ton of science that supports why it works. If you have a pair of running shoes, you can put them on wherever you are and go out for a jog. If you have a way to play music while you run, that may be extra effective because studies show that music also affects the reward areas in the brain. Pick some great tracks and hit the pavement.
Another activity I like to do is yoga. Yoga is great because it helps you get centered, tune out the noise in your head, and get your body moving. I used to go to a donation-based class several times a week before the pandemic hit, but since then, I’ve had to find other ways to do yoga. While I prefer the energy of people around me in live classes, I’ve found some videos that do the trick. All you need is a yoga mat and 20-45 minutes. Some of the videos are longer and more intense, but you can search for vinyasa flow on youtube and choose your difficulty level.
The pandemic has been hard on everyone whether you are in recovery or not, so figuring out how to stay healthy and cope with emotions takes extra effort. Make sure to listen to your body and talk to your treatment provider about any limitations you might have before you begin any workout program.
Resources for Working Out at Home
22 Free Workouts You Can Do at Home Right Now | The NY Times
Don't Want to Go Back to the Gym? Here's How to Carve Out Workout Space at Home | The Washington Post
Which at Home Workouts Are Right for You | VeryWell Fit
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