I’ve heard it said that the first year of sobriety is for physical health, the second year is for emotional health, and the third, spiritual health. But I’ll be five years sober soon, and I’ve found it’s less linear.
Sure, my body did a lot of healing the first year. But learning to care for my body—and really listen to it—is an ongoing process.
Physical, emotional, and spiritual healing are intertwined. For instance, some of my emotional work is learning to understand what my body is trying to tell me.
During the global pandemic, there’s been a lot of focus on how to stay physically healthy. I’ve seen tons of articles about how to boost your immune system. This is important information. But your mental health also affects your immune system.
Stress has been linked to lowered immunity. In a meta-analysis of 300 studies, it was found that people exposed to stress for just a few minutes showed signs of weakening immunity; chronic stress wreaked havoc.
An article in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience makes a brilliant connection between emotions and immunity: “Affect and emotion are defined as ‘an essential part of the process of an organism’s interaction with stimuli.’ Similar to affect, the immune response is the ‘tool’ the body uses to interact with the external environment.” The health of both is necessary for overall well-being.
Certain mental health disorders make it difficult to attend to your physical health. When you are Depressed, it’s hard to exercise or sometimes do basic things to take care of yourself. Many mental health disorders affect appetite, making it more difficult to get proper nutrition.
Social connectedness has uncountable mental health benefits. For one, it releases Dopamine in the brain—a natural reward. And being in touch with your support system can encourage healthy physical habits. You might be more likely to exercise if you do a socially distant walk with a friend. This again shows how physical and emotional health go together.
Yet more ways to work on both in tandem are exercises like yoga or moving meditation. Each of these require directed movement, which promotes concentration. This can significantly reduce stress and encourage calm. As we’ve said many times before, exercise is never a cure for any mental health disorder—but it is a great way to connect mind and body health.
If you are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder during the pandemic, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers is open throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Our facilities are receiving hospital-grade sanitization, and we are offering telehealth options, so that you can feel safe in treatment. At our recovery centers across the country, we will help you build a healthy life—physically and emotionally. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.