When returning home after treatment, adolescents will need to build and develop a new lifestyle. Many aspects of their lifestyle can help them thrive after treatment, including exercise. While some teens will enjoy more stereotypical routes of exercise like running or going to the gym, others may find these more of a chore. As a parent, you can help your adolescent child to find a type of exercise that is joyful. When they incorporate it into their lives, they are more likely to stick with it long-term, which can help them maintain their sobriety and mental health after treatment.
Helping Your Teen Find Joyful Exercise
Due to the current culture, exercise is often thought of as going to the gym or jogging. For many adolescents, however, these activities can be dull and more of a chore than anything else. However, as a parent, you can encourage and support your adolescent in finding alternative methods to exercise that bring them true joy.
The first step is to open your mind to all the ways an adolescent can exercise. It is helpful to think of exercise as physical movement. Help your teen find ways to get physical movement and increase their heart rate. This means that activities like playing frisbees, hiking, or dancing are all methods of exercise. Looking outside the box and exploring activities like martial arts is also an option.
Supporting your teen in finding joyful exercise means taking the time to try multiple options. As a parent, you can help facilitate this by encouraging them to try something new. Then, ask them how they felt about it. Did it bring them joy? Do they want to go back? If not, were there any aspects that they enjoyed? By asking questions and listening, you can help your adolescent child discover how they feel about different forms of exercise. Over time, you can help them find what types and parts of different kinds of exercise they enjoy. This information will help them to find an exercise that they enjoy now; it can be adjusted in the future as needed.
Importance of Finding Joyful Exercise
When your teen is recently out of treatment, they need to find alternative ways to cope with life that do not include substance use. Exercising in a way they enjoy is a coping method with many benefits, including improving their mood, creating long-term healthy habits, and re-discovering how to feel happy without substances.
Creating Long-Term Habits
Adolescents who are in recovery benefit from long-term habits that support their physical and mental health. The lifestyle they have in their teenage years will often persist into adulthood. As a parent, you can help your teen develop habits that make a difference in their recovery – both now and in the future.
When you help your adolescent discover how exercising can bring joy to their lives, you help them create long-term healthy habits. Research has found that joy and passion are two of the strongest driving forces for physical activity. Therefore, helping your teen discover ways of exercising that bring them joy will help them develop long-term positive habits.
Many adolescents who struggle with addiction have mood disorders or struggle with their mood. Exercising is well known to impact mood in adolescents and adults; exercising joyfully is even more impactful. While each individual has unique triggers for relapse, improving their mood can help decrease their risk of relapse. Immediately after treatment, it is particularly important to help your teen find methods to manage their mood and other triggers.
Rediscovering Joy Outside of Substances
Addiction is a disease that impacts the brain. According to the US Surgeon General, every drug has a different effect on the brain, but addictive drugs cause a surge of pleasure neurotransmitters in the brain. The size of the neurotransmitter surge is significantly larger than what is produced in other healthy activities like social bonding or food. This results in activities that used to bring joy being overrun by the neurotransmitters released from substance use.
As a parent, you can help your adolescent rediscover joy after treatment. In doing so, you are helping them to heal from addiction. Exercise is one way to remodel the reward system in the brain. You may have heard of a runner’s high, which describes the positive feelings an individual gets from running. This is a natural production of dopamine.
By helping your adolescent find ways to exercise in a joyful way, you are encouraging them to remodel their life. When they find enjoyment through exercising they have an activity they can connect with that makes them feel good. This helps them to build a new life where they feel happiness and satisfaction that does not involve using substances.
Not all teens enjoy stereotypical exercise methods like team sports or going to the gym. Fortunately, there are many ways to get the benefits of increased exercise. As a parent, you can help your child discover methods of exercise that they enjoy. This in turn will help them to participate in exercise long-term and build a life outside of substance use. At Sustain Recovery, our goal is to facilitate education and improved awareness and build new behaviors that support adolescents in recovery. We offer a variety of treatment levels that can meet your teen where they are. To learn more about our programs and how we can help, call us today at (949) 407-9052.