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Self-Care In Addiction Recovery

The Importance of Self Care in Addiction Recovery

As addiction worsens, self-care goes out the window. Obtaining your drug of choice becomes the main focus of life. During recovery, you will finally have the opportunity to focus on yourself.  Practicing self-care in recovery can help you feel your best so that you are better prepared to cope with the challenges of everyday life. 

Practicing self-care might seem a bit overwhelming when you aren’t used to it. That’s why we put together this article — to help you better understand self-care and how it can help you in recovery. Read on to learn more. 

What Is Self Care?

Self-care refers to things that you do to take care of your mental and physical health. These are activities that help you flourish mentally, physically, and spiritually. Self-care doesn’t have to be costly or extravagant to be effective. It includes everyday things like going to the gym, practicing yoga, cultivating gratitude, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep. 

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Why Is Self-Care Important in Recovery?

Consistent self-care, along with professional treatment, is essential when you are recovering from drug or alcohol abuse. That’s because addiction can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Self-care can help you feel your best and heal emotionally and physically from the devastating effects of substance abuse. 

Self-care can also help prevent a relapse. It is estimated that more than 85 percent of people relapse. Numerous studies have shown that self-care practices can help prevent relapse. Here’s how: 

  • Helps You Cope – When you practice self-care, it reduces the chances of turning to drugs and alcohol to cope. That is because you are nurturing your mental health. When your mental health is stronger, it reduces the need to use drugs to cope. 
  • Reduces Boredom – Boredom can trigger a relapse. Self-care reduces the chance of relapse as it gives you something to do in your free time. 
  • Lowers Stress – Stress is a major risk factor for relapse. It can leave you vulnerable to using substances. Certain self-care activities like yoga and meditation can help you lower stress and anxiety. 

Types of Self-Care

Self-care in addition recovery can take many forms. It can be ensuring that you eat healthy or it might be spending time outside in nature. It can also mean taking the time to meditate each day. Sometimes, you might need more self-care in a specific area. 

Mental & Emotional Self-Care

Mental and emotional self-care refers to the things that you do to stay mentally healthy. These self-care activities help you feel emotionally recharged. It could be practicing self-compassion or doing activities that help you express your feelings safely and regularly. 

  • Create a “don’t do” list – Add things to the list that drag you down emotionally. 
  • Listen to mood-boosting music. 
  • Track your emotions using an app like Moodfit.  
  • Participate in an aftercare program. 
  • Listen to an uplifting podcast about recovery like Back from Broken
  • Attend therapy sessions
  • Practice “nature therapy.” 
  • Journal about recovery. 
Physical Self-Care 

It’s common to neglect your physical health while actively using. Physical self-care helps you take care of your body so that it will function smoothly. Also, remember that there is a connection between your physical and mental health. So, when you are physically healthier, your mental health will improve too. 

  • Eat nutrient-rich meals. 
  • Incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. 
  • Create a calming wind-down routine to help you sleep better. 
  • Make an appointment with your primary care doctor for a checkup. 
  • Spend 30 minutes a day engaged in physical activity. 
  • Swap out regular coffee for decaffeinated. 
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. 
  • Stretch your muscles to relieve tension and stress. 
  • Practice yoga or Tai chi. 
  • Practice grounding — where you walk barefoot in the sand or grass. 
  •  Social Self-Care
Social Self-Care

When it comes to addiction recovery, socialization is vital. Close connections are important to help you stay sober. Social self-care helps you cultivate and maintain close relationships with others. 

  • Schedule a regular (sober) date night with your spouse or partner. 
  • Join a book club. 
  • Attend 12-step or other sober meetings regularly to connect with others in recovery. 
  • Volunteer for a meaningful cause. 
  • Connect with a faith community. 
  • Go to a workout class or join a running club. 
  • Host a game night with sober friends.
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Benefits of Self-Care

Self-care is what helps you function on a daily basis. If you’ve practiced self-care, you’ve probably noticed feeling happier, more energetic, and more peaceful. Self-care is essential for your well-being and benefits you in many other ways:  

  • Improves sleep – If your self-care routine focuses on sleep hygiene — creating a comfortable sleep environment or coming up with a relaxing bedtime routine — it can help reduce insomnia and improve your sleep quality. This is important because sleep deprivation can put you at a higher risk of relapse
  • Provides a boost in confidence – Self-care elevates your sense of self-worth. It helps you cultivate a positive self-image. 
  • Boosts your quality of life – One of the biggest benefits of self-care is that it improves our lives. Self-care can bring us joy, peace, and well-being. Self-care can help when you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. 
  • Helps build resilience – Self-care enables you to respond better to difficult situations. Everyone experiences tough times — whether it’s a breakup or being fired. Those situations can lead to depression and anxiety. If your default reaction is not the best (using substances), then it can lead to a relapse. But, self-care helps guard against this type of reaction by helping you build resilience. 
  • Reduces anxiety and depression – Self-care plays an important role in maintaining your mental health. Studies have found that self-care practices can help with anxiety and depressive symptoms. 
  • Increases feelings of belonging – Practicing social self-care, in particular, will provide feelings of belonging, which is good for your mental health. 
  • Prevents health issues – Physical self-care can help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. 
  • Strengthens interpersonal relationships – Social self-care activities help fortify your relationships with others. 
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Your Self-Care Plan 

A self-care plan is important because it will help you make self-care a part of your daily life or routine. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to self-care. Your self-care plan should be customized for your needs. Here’s how to develop a plan: 

  • Identify your needs – What kinds of self-care do you need? Mental, social, physical, or all three? 
  • Choose self-care activities – Select self-care activities that you can do every day. Consider what things bring you joy and happiness. 
  • Schedule time to focus on yourself – Pencil self-care activities into your daily calendar.
  • Try your best to stay consistent – There may be days when it’s hard to practice self-care. If you are struggling with low motivation, try to complete your daily self-care activities in spite of this. 
  • Reflect on how you feel – Regularly consider how doing self-care activities makes you feel. 
  • Adjust as needed – If a specific self-care activity isn’t working or you are noticing a difference in how you feel, change things up. 

Final Thoughts

Recovery tends to get easier with time. Eventually, you will reach a point where you are living the life that you want. Staying consistent with a self-care routine can help you get to this point by preventing relapse. It can also strengthen your physical and mental health, so you feel stronger and happier overall. 

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