Practicing Self-Care in Recovery
Recovery is about so much more than just getting sober. Once we put down the drugs or alcohol, we must find a new way to live. We are undergoing a profound transformational process – one that largely centers on self-care.
Self-care is defined as, “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” By the time most of us get sober, our health is in desperate need of a tune-up. Abusing drugs or alcohol is toxic to the mind, body, and spirit. After months or years of active addiction, we must put forth the effort to restore and maintain health in all areas of our lives.
At Ashley, we teach our patients to live AND enjoy life without the use of drugs or alcohol. The best way to maximize the recovery experience is to practice self-care.
Why is Self-Care Important to My Sobriety?
Remaining abstinent from drugs and alcohol is the first step toward practicing self-care in recovery. Without the commitment to live a sober lifestyle, we simply do not take care of ourselves. Addiction demands that we abandon all concern for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
There are a number of reasons why self-care is important to your sobriety. Think about it. You are the only person you can never lose or leave. You have to go to sleep with you every night and wake up with you every morning. You are with yourself 24-7. You are responsible for your recovery and your own happiness.
Self-care promotes health and wellness in every area of life. Shouldn’t you put forth the effort to build an awesome relationship with yourself so you can enjoy your sobriety?
Also, taking care of your health helps to prevent a reoccurrence. One of the primary objectives of recovery is to celebrate ongoing, continuous abstinence from drugs and alcohol. You will greatly increase your chances of sobriety when you practice self-care.
Taking Care of Yourself Physically
Physical health is vital to the recovery process. We simply must take care of our bodies if we want to enjoy life in recovery. There are several ways to do this.
- Exercise. Get your body moving! Exercise promotes the production of feel-good chemicals in the brain, which make us feel content. It also reduces the likelihood of illness and certain diseases. You do not have to be a Zumba master or bodybuilder. Just get moving. (Walking is awesome).
- Proper diet. Food is medicine. It fuels us by giving our bodies the nutrients we need to operate at max capacity. One of the best ways to practice physical self-care is to eat right.
- Healthy sleep. Getting a full eight to ten hours of restful sleep every night is critical to our physical health. Learn healthy sleep tips.
- Personal hygiene. One of the common symptoms of active addiction is that we neglect our personal hygiene. It may seem silly to mention this, but many people in recovery continue to struggle with this when they get sober. Learn more about personal hygiene.
These are just a few of the many ways you can take care of your physical health.
Self-Care and Your Mental Health
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Many people in early recovery report that they feel as if they are going “crazy.” This is quite common. After prolonged substance abuse, it takes awhile for the brain to heal and return to healthy functioning.
It is important to mention that many sober people have a dual diagnosis. In these cases, it is especially important to address any underlying mental health issues that could affect the recovery process.
Getting psychological or psychiatric care may greatly benefit you even if you do not have a diagnosed mental disorder. Talking with a therapist or taking medication can boost mental health.
Also, one of the best ways to practice self-care in the area of mental health is by keeping stress to a minimum. Stress wreaks havoc on the mind and can be a trigger for drug and alcohol use. It also causes anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other health problems.
Tending to Your Emotional Needs
Emotional sobriety is a thing. It basically means confronting and coping with emotions in a healthy way. When we were using drugs or alcohol, we numbed our ability to feel. Or, we used them to cope with stress or difficult life circumstances. In recovery, we stay clean no matter what.
Emotional self-care means that you honor your feelings. You feel them rather than run from them. You talk about them with people you trust. And, you develop healthy coping skills to manage your emotions effectively.
Spiritual Self-Care is a Must
Spiritual health is just as important as physical, mental, and emotional health – some argue that it is the most important aspect of recovery.
At Ashley, we believe that holistic care should be implemented in the life of every recovering person. Recovery is contingent upon spiritual fitness. For this reason, we promote yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and other holistic practices.
Maybe you don’t consider yourself a spiritual person or perhaps you don’t have a belief in a Higher Power. That is okay! You do not have to be a Zen guru to reap the many rewards that come with spiritual self-care.
Check out these five spiritual practices.
Some Simple Self-Care Techniques and Activities
You have to be intentional about self-care. You have to make it a priority and set time aside to take care of yourself. Here are a few examples of how self-care might show up in your life:
- Taking a hot bath
- Going for a nature walk
- Listening to your favorite music
- Enjoying a cup of coffee with a supportive friend
- Taking a mini-vacation to relax
- Setting healthy boundaries
- Taking a drive
- Fellowshipping with other recovering people
- Going to counseling
- Finding a hobby you enjoy
- Reading spiritual literature
Remember, your recovery journey is yours. Find what works for you!
Practicing Self-Care Takes Practice
The disease of addiction demanded that we continued to abuse drugs or alcohol at all costs. This means we neglected our health in pursuit of the next drink, hit, pill, or fix. Addiction became a way of life for us. We used substances to cope – even though many of the problems we experienced were caused by our addiction.
After months or years of seeking a chemical solution to our problems, it will take some time to learn how to take good care of yourself. Make the commitment that you are going to practice self-care in your life. With time, you will wonder how you ever managed to live without it.