10 Holistic Recovery Tools

Substance use disorders are complicated. There are many contributing factors and symptoms at play. That’s why there are several different recovery pathways and why different approaches work for different people. You’ve probably heard of people describing addiction as a medical affliction and while this is partly true, it doesn’t address the whole person who is suffering. Holistic recovery focuses on the mind, body, and spirit of a person who needs to get well. Instead of just focusing on the physical withdrawal symptoms of an addiction, or the physical act of not picking up a drink or a drug, holistic recovery tools help with healing and creating a future that takes into consideration all areas of a person’s life.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of holistic recovery tools available to help you enhance your recovery and become a whole person again. Here are a few.

1. Exercise

What better way to get natural endorphins than to exercise? Exercise provides a healthy way to keep your body in shape, to release tightly held aggression or other emotions, and to occupy your mind for a short period of time. Exercise can also help create a healthy self-image and increases motivation over the long-term. Taking care of the body encourages a balance between mind, body, and spirit.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. Making this a practice in recovery is beneficial for those of us who were never mindful during our addiction. Becoming mindful can be done through meditation and developing an awareness of focusing on the present moment, acknowledging your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and bodily sensations. Engaging in mindfulness can help decrease stress and improve overall health and ability to achieve balance in recovery.

3. Art therapy

Creativity can fall by the wayside when someone is deep in their addiction. Creativity, or expressing oneself through artwork, becomes a privilege not a necessity. The art-making process can be extremely therapeutic and can become a pillar of a recovery program. Extracting interpretations from your art can help with healing.

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine and healing method that uses various trigger points on the body to treat a variety of health issues. Acupuncture includes inserting long thin needles into the skin at certain points of the body to stimulate healing. This therapy is said to balance qi energy in the body and stimulate various systems like the cardiovascular, nervous, immune, and digestive systems. Acupuncture can help restore balance to people seeking recovery.

5. Hypnosis

Hypnotherapy isn’t always like we see it depicted on TV and in movies. Hypnosis is defined as a state of human consciousness involving focused attention, decreased peripheral awareness, and an increased ability to respond to suggestion. In the realm of addiction recovery, hypnotherapy can be used to give powerful instructions directly into your subconscious mind. This can help eliminate cravings and triggers for drugs and alcohol and improve overall confidence.

6. Yoga

Yoga has emerged as its own recovery pathway. There is Y12SR (yoga for 12 step recovery), Yoga for Recovery, and Yoga for Trauma, and She Recovers Yoga. Because of its powerful breathing techniques, movement patterns, and mindfulness cultivation yoga is a tool for healing from addiction or any sort of trauma. Yoga can calm your mind, create patience, personal connection and understanding, and a rooted center of calm which can be a base for your recovery.

7. Gratitude practice

Holistic recovery addresses the root cause of an addiction and focuses on an individual experience. The practice of gratitude is a great process of seeing how far you’ve come and where you want to go. Being grateful is something we don’t often think about during addiction because we are only concerned with ourselves and drug or behavior of choice. Gratitude can actually rewire your brain to feel good and unshackle you from toxic emotions. When we appreciate what we have, the chances we’ve been given, and don’t take anything for granted, we move through the world differently. When we are grateful for recovery, it becomes a sustainable part of our lives.

8. Reiki

Reiki is a healing technique where a therapist can transfer energy to the patient by touch while activating the natural healing process of the patient’s body which results in physical and emotional healing. The hands-on palm healing produces a universal energy that natural flows through us but can become depleted. When it’s low we are more likely to experience stress or sickness and when it’s high we are more capable of being healthy and happy. Reiki treats the whole person including body, mind, spirit, and emotions. A session can feel like a glowing radiance that flows through the body and around you.

9. Sound healing

Sound healing uses music sounds and music to improve your physical and emotional health and wellbeing. Generally administered by trained sound healing practitioners, sound healing sessions may involve sound healing meditations, playing an instrument, singing along to music, listening to music, or moving to the beat of music. Sound healing dates back to ancient Greece when music was used to attempt to cure mental illness. It has been linked to a number of health benefits including lower stress levels and boosting immune function.

10. Float therapy

Float therapy is when you float in salt water in a sensory deprivation tank. This takes place in a lightless, soundproof tank with water, set at room temperature. The idea is that you become wrapped in a cocoon of silence and warmth while your mind drifts off into meditation. Floating is said to decrease anxiety and depression, improve sleep, enhance athletic performance, and relieve physical pain.

All of these holistic recovery tools contribute to the healing of the mind, body, and spirit, which is necessary to sustain long-term sobriety. Using some, all, or alternating between these approaches are recommended as you travel along on your recovery journey.

Kelly Fitzgerald Junco

Kelly Fitzgerald Junco is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine. She is currently writing a memoir.