6 Things That Will Help Improve Recovery, Cognition, & Dwarf Addiction
Remember way back when we ran a piece on fighting substance use disorders by increasing your working memory and cognitive function? We weren’t crazy! New research released has confirmed mice with access to more stimulation were able to abstain from their addiction to cocaine more readily than their peers who did not benefit from the same stimulation.
What does this mean for you exactly?
The sky’s the limit! If you or a loved one are struggling with an untreated substance use disorder you can help allay the disease by engaging in activities that make you think. Sudoku and crossword puzzles are one way- and we’ve covered how reading literary fiction can help you overcome addiction and develop empathy.
Eating the right foods rich in nutrients is essential to producing serotonin and other chemicals that make your brain happy.
According to Brain Blogger the deficit of cognition is ascribed to a lack of grey matter, equating to an impaired ability to control impulsive behavior and ignore cravings. (Children and teenagers’ brains are not yet fully developed, which makes them even more susceptible to developing a substance use disorder.)
There are a few things you can do on your own to help give your brain a fighting chance against the demons of addiction, including:
- Practicing Mindful Meditation
- Getting Active!
- Exploring Creative Pursuits; writing, art, dance, music, etc.
- Establishing and maintaining social connections
- Playing Brain Training Games (there are tons of apps for that!)
- Go to Bed!
What Is Mindful Meditation?
If you ask a meditation expert (which I’ll have to be soon, in order to write an upcoming eBook about holistic healing and addiction recovery *hint hint*) what the difference between “meditation” and “mindful meditation” is, you might get a mixed response based on how many you asked afterward.
I believe the important thing to remember here is meditation is a means to delve into the innards of yourself, and discover the indwelling nature of your spirit in a means of cultivating it outward.
Mindful Meditation aims specifically to make ourselves aware that we are thinking; essentially the pursuit can be captured in: knowing that you’re thinking, when you’re thinking.
If that didn’t confuse you enough, I’m not done! Just kidding.
Mindful meditation helps one to remain conscious of their thoughts, and can help one identify problem areas and address them. For instance, if I’m having an episode where it is difficult for me to stay in control of my actions, practicing mindful meditation will help me register when I am acting irrationally, so that I will be able to make a better decision.
Mindful meditation is about not allowing yourself to get lost in the moment, as to avoid harming yourself physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
Fighting Addiction with Physical Activity
Did you know running around is actually good for your brain?
By encouraging blood to pump throughout your body, the brain becomes more active, and is able to digest more information. Also, when we exercise, our neurotransmitters (yes, the same ones that play a huge role in remaining addicted) are stimulated naturally.
If you want to get “high” do it naturally by using your biological makeup to your advantage.
If you’ve suffered from an untreated substance use disorder for many years, you have have suffered damage to these delicate neurotransmitters. But thanks to neuroplasticity, it’s possible by becoming engaged in activities enlivening the brain, you can make everything go back to normal! But it will take your dedication and commitment to make everything right again.
Exploring Creative Pursuits for Addiction Recovery
Remember engaging in the arts is an excellent way to prompt cognitive development, and even shed addiction altogether, by focusing your energy on the artistic goals and achievements you wish to pursue. Marcus Jackson did it with art, and so can you!
Using the arts to overcome addiction is common practice in several alternative therapies, and helps to keep you busy and occupied with rewarding tasks. Writing, reading, and playing a musical instrument have all been proven to increase working memory and increase grey matter- so don’t leave yourself out of the action!
Maintaining Healthy Social Connections
A 2014 study published by the University of Chicago asserted feelings of loneliness impede our cognition! Don’t let yourself waste away in your hermit hole! Get out there, and get active- with people, that is.
Many websites like MeetUp can help you connect and network with people with your like interests. There’s nearly a local club, or meetup group, for everything under the sun! And if you can surround yourself with creative people, like participating in a jewelry making workshop, pottery class, yoga, or poetry group- you’re doing two things that will help you shed addictive habits at once!
There’s an App for That: Mind Games
A quick search in any app store for “brain games” will open you up t
o a wealth of brain teasers! And if you download the first and hate it, try another. Johns Hopkins University affrims as little as 10 sessions of brain training improved one’s ability to reason, and sped up their ability to process information.
Now, if we’re realistic, will these apps have the same “brain training” quality as researchers at a major University? Probably not, but you never know, and every little bit helps!
Just Go to Bed!
We mean it. Getting a full eight hours of sleep will do a world of wonders for that big beautiful noggin of yours! When we sleep, our brains absorb everything that we’ve been exposed to during the day. Without proper amounts of sleep you’re squandering all of the hard work you’ve put in to yourself to
make a difference in your behavior!
In fact, according to Psychology Today, “Imaging studies have suggested that sleep disturbances may be associated with structural brain changes in certain regions of the frontal lobe. The surprising thing about this study is that it suggests poor sleep quality is associated with reduced gray matter volume throughout the entire frontal lobe and globally in the brain.”
Now that you’re armed with a bit of knowledge, go put it to use! And if you need help getting into contact with local groups in your area, give us a shout!
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.