Bring Together the Trio of Exercise, Nutrition, and Sleep

April 25, 2024

Trio of Exercise, Nutrition, and Sleep, protecting your sobriety

In pop culture, there are all kinds of examples of trios who are central to the success of a television program or movie franchise (think Harry, Ron, and Hermione; or Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup; or Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, among many others). There are also many legendary musical trios (think of The Supremes or the Beastie Boys or Crosby, Stills & Nash among many others). And there are trios of athletes who are often thought of together (think of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippin, and Dennis Rodman; or Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz; or Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce among many others).

Our point is that sometimes three things together add up to more than the sum of their parts. For example, when it comes to boosting and protecting your physical health, your mental health, and your hard-won sobriety, there is a trio that is hard to top.

That trio includes regular exercise, good nutrition, and restful sleep. Let’s look at them one by one.

Find the Right Exercise for You

Some people simply enjoy exercising and have no trouble keeping up a regular routine of running or swimming or lifting or what have you. But for others, exercise always seems like drudgery or a time suck or an embarrassing activity. Still and all, exercise has benefits for everyone. Most obviously, it is a way to improve your physical health. But those physical health gains are accompanied by mental health gains, too—meaning exercise can help lessen the severity of the symptoms associated with various mental health disorders. And for those working to stay sober, better physical and mental health provide a firmer foundation for that project.

If you fall into the group of people who don’t enjoy exercising, you might wonder how you can possibly get started. Ideally, you could find a physical activity you enjoy. It doesn’t much matter what it is as long as it is safe and you can do it regularly. But even while you are searching for the exercise routine that is right for you, you can make small changes that will get you going in the right direction. Park farther away from your destination. Take the stairs instead of the elevator (heck, in a tall building, you could do a couple of flights of stairs and still catch an elevator for the rest of the trip up). Build a 10-minute walk into your lunch break. Any additional physical activity in your daily routine is a step in the right direction.

Eat Nutritious Food That You Enjoy

Sometimes, when a discussion turns to healthy eating, it can seem as though all of the talk is about the things you should not eat—and most of those things seem to be the very foods many of us enjoy eating. As a result, the idea of eating healthily can seem like an exercise in sacrifice that robs us of the very pleasures of consuming our favorite foods.

But here’s the thing: Most of us don’t eat a particularly wide variety of foods. We have our favorites—the things we know how to make, the things the kids will eat, the things we always order at any given restaurant—and we don’t tend to stray too far from them. But the world is full of nutrients that are anything but a chore to eat. As with exercise, the key is finding out what works for you—what you really enjoy. While you are on your search, you can make small changes, like adding one piece of fruit to your daily diet or reducing the amount of sugar you consume (for example, could you put half as much sugar in your coffee?). Healthier choices when it comes to food offer an expansive range of physical, mental, and sobriety benefits.

Bedtimes Are Not a Bad Idea

Did you hate bedtime when you were a kid? Maybe you felt like you were missing out on something. Perhaps you really were not all that sleepy at your regular bedtime. Maybe you didn’t dig the dark but also didn’t want to admit you wanted a nightlight. 

But when you grew up, you could leave the bedtime behind. That might have felt awesome—might still feel awesome—but the reality is that a regular bedtime (and a regular waking time, too) actually has a lot of benefits in all the areas we have been talking about—physical health, mental health, and sobriety. Getting in a real routine can lead to much more restful sleep

And, of course, you can make small changes as you try to work toward that regular sleeping schedule. Limit your afternoon and evening caffeine. Turn the screens off well before you plan to head to bed. Keep your sleeping space cool, uncluttered, and dark. Each of these things can make your sleep more restful—and more beneficial.

If You are Struggling, We Can Help

At Farley Center—located in Williamsburg, Virginia—we provide personalized care for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, and disorders grounded in traumatic experiences. If you are ready to get started, we are ready to help.