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Replacing Unhealthy Behaviors with Healthy Ones

Recovery can be defined as a process of building a healthy lifestyle and making lifelong changes to better our lives. If you are in recovery, you have most likely had some unhealthy habits and behaviors that have held you back from growth and change. When you engage in the recovery process, you may have to give up a lot of your unhealthy habits. While these unhealthy habits or behaviors were not conducive to building a meaningful life, they were likely motivated by fulfilling some need or want. To find suitable replacement behaviors, you have to consider the underlying motivations of your unhealthy behaviors. When you know why you engaged in your addictive behaviors, you can start to explore healthier options to meet the same needs, wants, or desires.

Behavior: A Form of Communication

Most of our behaviors serve as a way of communicating something to ourselves or others. Generally, behaviors are ways of communicating about what we want by taking action to obtain those things. What purpose did your unhealthy behaviors serve? What were you trying to communicate by engaging in them? Here are six common reasons people give for their unhealthy behaviors:

  • The need to belong. Peer pressure is a common reason that people engage in risky behaviors. Peer pressure is motivated by the need to be accepted and liked. The need to belong and having a sense of community is a strong motivator for behaviors, both healthy and unhealthy.


  • Boredom. Sometimes, we are simply bored and are unsure of healthy ways to quell our boredom. We may have grown up with parents who also engaged in unhealthy recreational activities, such as drinking excessively or using drugs. We may not have a good example to follow for how to occupy our time appropriately.


  • Co-occurring disorders. Some of us have underlying co-occurring mental health issues that drive our unhealthy behaviors. Some people use alcohol to cope with social anxiety. Others may become addicted to drugs to cope with depression. If our primary motivation is that we are seeking relief from mental anguish, then we can seek healthy treatment options for our mental wellness.


  • Pain management. We may be suffering from chronic pain and use unhealthy methods of numbing the pain by using alcohol or other substances. We also might find ourselves addicted to substances following dependence on pain management medications. Underlying emotional and physical issues might need to be addressed for recovery.


  • Trauma. People may behave in unhealthy ways to deal with trauma or to numb themselves from past experiences. Risky or unhealthy habits might serve as a distraction from thinking about our traumatic past.


  • Stress. We may not have learned healthy ways to manage stress or other emotions. Unhealthy behaviors might be our way of coping with stress. However, they usually lead to a lower quality of life and can cause more problems than the issues we sought to solve. Stress management techniques, like mindfulness and deep breathing, can enhance our quality of life and help us in our recovery.

 

Did any of these stick out to you as a motivation for some of your unhealthy habits? If so, now you can begin to find healthy methods of obtaining the same needs. When you engage in healthy behaviors, you set yourself up for growth and positive changes. 

Healthy Replacement Behaviors

Healthy replacement behaviors are ways of meeting our needs with ways that do not cause more problems in our lives. For those of us in recovery, we may need to explore some of our hobbies and interests to find new activities to fill our time. We might want to try physical fitness or other exercise programs to release natural endorphins that make us feel good. We may need to learn to express our emotions to heal from them, rather than numbing them to escape our pain. We might need to make some life changes to manage our stress levels. We also may need to learn how to say “no” and set boundaries with others, who pressure us to do things we do not want to do. 

Once you understand your motivations, you can begin to find healthy coping mechanisms. Recovery is the process of replacing your unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones. Healthy behaviors enhance our lives and help us change for the better. On your recovery path, you will learn new ways of living that may not have been apparent to you before. Be open-minded and try new things to live the best life on your journey of recovery.  

 

One of the hardest parts of recovery is changing our habits. Most of us are so accustomed to our routines that we have a difficult time making any changes, even changes for the better. Sometimes we know we want to make a change, yet we are unsure of where to start. By understanding our underlying motivations, we can begin to find healthy replacements for our unhealthy and unfulfilling habits. Once we understand why we behave a certain way, we can begin to find alternatives to achieve similar ends. We might need some time in a positive and supportive environment to create new habits. Change is hard, but you do not have to do it alone. At Camelback Recovery, we teach replacement behaviors to help others learn new ways of replacing bad habits. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 for more information to help you or a loved one!

Can I Develop Healthy Relationships In Early Sobriety?

As we all know, our mental health conditions can have a significant impact on our romantic relationships. It can happen before your condition is diagnosed, during your recovery, and even after you have gone through treatment. Nearly half of all adults will experience some kind of mental illness in their lives.

It doesn’t matter what kind of disease it is, it can still cause an impact in your life that you didn’t really anticipate at first. In many ways, no relationship is affected more by a mental condition than the romantic relationships in our lives. Of course, it is possible to have a healthy and proper relationship even when living with a mental illness.

If you or your partner are struggling with the illness, it is not impossible to have an excellent romantic relationship. There are many ways that you can help improve your relationship and ensure that it stays as a constant source of support for you in your life during recovery. Look out for the kinds of issues that can pop up and cause you to have trouble within your relationship.

Don’t Pay Too Much Attention to the Stigmas

The presence of shame, guilt, or resentment can be a source of conflict for both people in the relationship. When a person is living with a mental health condition, they can be held down by the stigmas that exist around mental illness. Because of these stigmas, a struggling person is likely to feel embarrassed or ashamed.

They may try to hide their symptoms and signs, failing to get the help they need. This causes their situation to worsen, meaning that their symptoms and signs get even harder to manage, and their emotions get out of hand. Their partners may feel frustrated with their inability to help their ailing loved one.

They may have to work hard to ensure that everything is going the way it needs to go in their lives. A person who is suffering may find it difficult to follow through with household tasks, maintain employment, and earn an income. This means the partner has more stress on them to figure these things out.

These factors increase the strain on the relationship, and both partners can suffer. These strains can then create issues with intimacy in the relationship. Not only can the problems they have put a barrier between the two, but mental illness can cause a person to lose interest in sex.

It could be a result of their condition or the effect of their treatment. They could have performance anxiety and worry about not performing well enough for their partner. In turn, intimacy becomes more scarce and harder to come by.

The Dangers of Over-Dependence

Codependency can also form in these kinds of relationships. A person whose partner is struggling can begin to define themselves by their ability to support and help them. This can enable the other partner to indulge in more unhealthy habits and behaviors.

In the most extreme cases, codependency can increase the risk of abusive behaviors, including manipulation, mocking, and other unhealthy dynamics. Breeding these kinds of dynamics within a relationship can lead to incredibly harmful ways of living.

To help with these kinds of issues, it is always important to educate yourself. Each side of the relationship deserves to be understood, and educating ourselves is essential. Practice and maintain your communication skills so that both parties can express their concerns when they come up.

Always take care of yourself. Keeping up with your physical, mental, and emotional conditions can help us support our partners. It helps improve your mood processes, meaning you can be the best partner possible. If things get worse, seek professional help when you need it.

There is nothing wrong with going to a professional to help you when you feel like you can’t figure it out yourselves. Couple or individual counseling could be beneficial to both people.

No Cookie-Cutter Approach

It is important to remember that not all relationships are the same and that each one deserves different kinds of help. People deserve to feel like they can get help when they need it, and both people need to know that mental illness is not a character flaw or a sign of moral weakness.

Allow ourselves the proper room to be able to improve and change in the ways we need to. Everyone deserves understanding and context to be given to their struggles. We don’t have to let our relationships suffer because of our experiences with mental illness and recovery.

One of the most painful elements of substance abuse is the way it disconnects us from our loved ones. If you’re struggling in relationships and are wondering how you can mend the bridges you’ve burned, there is a solution. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Through a holistic recovery program, you can heal spiritually, mentally, and physically – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober doesn’t mean you need to turn your back on the people in your life. Instead, this is a period where you can grow closer to these people than ever before.