You are working to develop a relapse prevention plan that will help you move into a new lifestyle, one that involves new people and situations far removed from an addiction-involved lifestyle. Regular exercise and positive recreational and social activities need to be a major part of your relapse prevention plan. They are essential to creating your new balanced lifestyle. You need:
- Physical exercise: Activities and movement intended to keep you fit and healthy.
- Recreation: Activities that you take part in for pleasure or relaxation rather than work.
- Social activities: Activities that allow you to meet and interact with others in a friendly way and offer you an opportunity for interaction with people who aren’t using.
Exercise, recreation and social activities, of course, can be combined in one activity such as hiking. Hiking involves exercise and meeting new people. It is a recreational and a social experience. Remember, new activities should provide the opportunity for you to engage in a lifestyle that is incompatible with addiction activity and support you in meeting people who are not involved in addiction.
To create your plan, you will need to take some time to think about new recreational and social activities you want to try and past activities you want to start again now that you are drug and alcohol-free. To get started answer the following questions:
Use the “Exercise, Recreation and Social Activities Plan,” at the end of this chapter to begin your personal plan. Start with a formal exercise plan because it’s easy and concrete. Exercise will:
- Keep you in shape and increase your strength for other recreational activities.
- Improve your physical appearance, which will increase your confidence to try some of those other social activities.
- Help you manage the stress of trying new social activities.
- Give you the opportunity to meet new people with similar interests.
- Give you something to talk about.
- Help you manage cravings and negative emotions.
You can see why exercise is such a powerful tool for you and is highly recommended. Begin by getting up ten minutes early each day for a brisk walk. Even walking around your living room is a start. Every hour, get up and walk around for five or ten minutes. Get up and walk around during the T.V. commercials. Take the stairs. Find a workout buddy and schedule your activities and workouts. Keep track of your goals and progress. Get professional advice from a personal trainer. Above all get active and make daily choices that increase your physical activity.
Make a specific plan rather than, “Sometime today I’m going to go for a walk somewhere.” For walkers or runners, pick a time and pick a park or a section of your neighborhood with good paths. Plan for locations that allow for variety and plan for good and bad weather. Find a mall for those winter months. If you’re a swimmer, find the nearest pool where you can do your laps or take water aerobics classes. Take action, phone and find out about times and costs. For cycling, plan a route. Obtain a membership at a community gym for working out. Or, begin in your own home with basic exercise equipment. Get started and make your plan specific with days, times, activities, people, and places marked down on your calendar. Take away all your excuses by planning.
Today, decide on at least one form of exercise that you are willing to try. Take time now to complete the “Exercise, Recreation and Social Activities Plan” at the end of this chapter. List at least three things to do this week and complete all columns for each of the three activities including:
- Equipment, knowledge, course and/or clothing required
- Place to access or carry out activity
- People who might participate with me
- Start date and times