The mind is incredibly powerful. Our thoughts shape our emotions, and our emotions influence our behaviors. Therefore, in substance use recovery, our emotional state has the power to help or hinder our recovery efforts.
Emotional self-care is the purposeful practice of attending to our mental health. Taking care of emotional wellness is intrinsic to a sustained recovery, as emotional stability can help prevent relapse. Continue reading to learn about the many techniques available to help boost emotional health in recovery.
Emotional Self-Care Explained
Emotional self-care involves the nurturing, processing, and healing of our feelings. It’s important to recognize that the affective state, or mood state, has an outsized effect on our quality of life. We can manage our emotional states and cultivate healthy, positive attitudes by practicing various self-care methods. Consider these emotional self-care techniques:
- Keep a Journal. Transfer your feelings onto paper through the practice of journaling. Keeping a journal helps you actively process your emotions instead of ignoring them and letting them fester inside. Always end a journal entry by noting at least one positive thing that you were grateful for each day.
- Nurture Your Passions. Humans are wired to find joy and fulfillment through the things we feel most passionate about. Passion for the arts, volunteering, cooking, or learning are just a few areas to explore. Whatever it is that stirs your soul, make it part of your weekly, or even daily routine.
- Set Healthy Boundaries. Toxic people and triggering situations create emotional disturbance and distress. Part of emotional self-care involves maintaining stability by avoiding unhealthy situations and people. Set firm boundaries to limit exposure to these triggers, and protect your emotional health.
- Practice Relaxation Methods. Emotional wellness relies on access to coping skills that can reduce stress and enhance a calm mental state. These techniques become valuable tools to help regulate emotions on a regular basis. They might include:
- Deep Breathing
- Guided Meditation
- Seek Help When Needed. Don’t be afraid to see a therapist when you realize your own coping efforts are falling short. A therapist can assist you through a rough patch or an adverse life event that may have led to an emotional disturbance. Therapy provides a safe space where you can work through these difficulties and restore emotional wellness.
Three Benefits of Self-Care in Recovery
Emotional self-care is only one piece of the larger self-care picture. Self-care encompasses several realms, including relationship health, physical health, spiritual health, and mental and emotional health. By addressing and nurturing all aspects of self-care, you’re embracing a “holistic,” or whole person, approach to recovery.
Three benefits of restorative self-care include:
- Improved Overall Health. The mind-body-spirit connection is a powerful one. When you care for all aspects of wellness, you improve function across all domains.
- Better Sleep Quality. Exercise and a peaceful mental state will improve your sleep quality. When you get adequate sleep on a regular basis, you enjoy a more positive attitude, better cognitive functioning, and a more stable overall mood state.
- Healthier Lifestyle Habits. While it takes some time to establish new wellness habits, these self-care measures will eventually become routine. Healthy lifestyle habits have a way of positively influencing all areas of life, including relationships and career, in a positive way.
By caring for your emotional wellness, you honor your commitment to recovery. Sound emotional health not only reinforces your recovery, but also improves overall quality of life.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.