What is the relationship between wellness and recovery?
Physical wellness is the platform upon which we build a sustainable recovery. Our bodies take a physical toll in active substance use, and it takes time to allow our bodies to heal in recovery. It starts with basic physical needs, like proper nutrition, healthy sleep, hygiene, and physical fitness.
What does health and wellness mean?
Health refers to a state where the physical body is free from disease, while wellness refers to an overall balance of a person’s physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental, and occupational well-being… Wellness has a direct influence on overall health.
Why is the recovery model important?
The recovery model aims to help people with mental illnesses and distress to look beyond mere survival and existence. It encourages them to move forward and set new goals. It supports the view that they should get on with their lives, do things and develop relationships that give their lives meaning.
Wellness is just as vital to the recovery process as abstaining from drugs and alcohol. This might seem like an exaggeration or hyperbole, but it isn’t. Recovery is about breaking free from dangerous behaviors to build a meaningful life without the weight of active addiction. Without taking the time to maintain your mental and physical health, recovery can become overwhelming and it can be all too easy to slip back into old habits.
Preserving and protecting your well-being allows you to be the best version of yourself. When you’re actively tending to your psychological and physical needs, you feel connected to yourself, closer to others and dedicated to leading a substance-free life. While wellness sounds great on paper, it can be challenging to understand how to practice it in your day-to-day life.
In the context of recovery from substance use disorder, wellness means good health: physical, emotional and mental, social, and intellectual. Our sense of purpose, our experience of joy, and our relationships all play a vital part in our overall well-being just as much as our physical health outcomes.
Maintaining overall wellness in recovery, especially a sense of purpose and social relationships, are critical elements of maintaining long-term recovery. Exercise, for example, impacts the same reward centers of the brain as drugs and alcohol.
Dimensions of overall well-being
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines wellness as more than just the absence of disease or stress. SAMHSA says that there are eight dimensions of overall well-being:
- 1. Emotional: coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
- 2. Financial: satisfaction with current and future financial circumstances
- 3. Social: developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
- 4. Spiritual: expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life
- 5. Occupational: a sense of satisfaction and enrichment achieved through our work
- 6. Physical: being physically active, sleeping well, and eating well
- 7. Intellectual: recognizing our abilities and expanding our skills, knowledge, and experience
- 8. Environmental: good health by being in pleasurable and stimulating environments that support our well-being.
One could argue that the first step in achieving wellness is recovering our physical health, which has been neglected after years of substance use. Self-care promotes self-love and self-love creates long-term success and well-being.