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By Boris M | 05 May, 2020 Published in Guides
2

Self-care is more than just treating yourself on a shopping spree or having a relaxing spa day with friends. Self-care revolves around promoting physical, mental and emotional health – which are all vital aspects to addiction recovery.

When you are actively engaged in self-care in addiction recovery, you are providing yourself with key tools to not only stay sober, but to maintain a happier, fuller, and healthier way of life.

This action often attracts the attention of others who will notice your positive qualities – and will probably relish in the fact that you are looking after yourself after battling with such debilitating illnesses such as addiction and substance use.

The first step in self-care in addiction recovery is establishing your priorities: what is important to you and what is not worth your time? How do you really want to fill your days and what would you like to leave behind in the past?

If you approach this issue with only your own health and wellbeing in mind, you will learn how to face your addiction with greater courage and strength.

What is self-care?

There are two types of self-care: positive self-care and negative self-care.

Positive self-care involves encouraging yourself, your family and friends and your loved ones to remain positive, stay on track and go for the win and even in difficult times, find ways to grow and remain hopeful.

Positive self-care means putting your own needs first – which many have issues with as they perceive this as selfish. It is absolutely necessary to remember that this is not the case.

Experts often say ‘treat yourself like you would if you were a 5-year-old child.’ You would, without question, make sure they are fed, well-rested, clean, happy and loved? Taking care of yourself is no different. And that method is just the basics.

When you practice self-care, your quality of life dramatically increases and you learn to find the joy and gratitude out of the finer things in day-to-day life. Living with fulfillment and purpose only comes from being grateful for what you have: and that is yourself.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to make yourself a priority: it’s always better to start today. After a prolonged period of substance abuse, you now owe it to yourself to practice some well-deserved self-love that is probably long overdue.

In your efforts to be more engaged with your self-care routine, you should make it a habit to sit down with a piece of paper and write out your goals. Be aware of what is your own priority and what you feel you ‘should’ be doing to please others. Then let this go.

How important is self-care in addiction recovery? 

Self-care is not an added luxury to your addiction recovery program. It is the path you take to address your inner needs. Your self-care consists of mental, emotional and physical activities that will strengthen your resolve to overcome addiction.

Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is essential to maintain a healthy mind and soul. With proper nutrition, exercise, healthy sleeping patterns, and relaxation techniques, you can help curb cravings and proceed down a prosperous road to recovery.

By practicing the best practices for a healthy mind and soul, you can minimize your risk of relapse during the addiction recovery process. Meeting your own needs provides a sold foundation for you to self-progress.

The best practices for a healthy mind and soul include having a mentor, working on your diet, getting enough sleep, improving physical and mental health, engaging in regular exercise, and developing new and healthy habits.

Self-care means self-control

You can control your body, your mind, and your emotions at any time during your recovery. This is the greatest weapon in your fight against addiction.

Your sense of control over your environment enhances your ability to bring your energy levels up while you are undergoing an addiction recovery program. It helps to identify feelings of hopelessness, discouragement, and despair and to be more creative and effective in maintaining hope.

Missing out on one aspect of your established self-care routine can throw structures and routines out of sync.

Self-care, addiction recovery & mental health 

Self-care and addiction recovery are best combined with activities that allows the addict to learn how to live a healthy life without drugs and alcohol. It is not good to just put those struggling with addiction into a detox or recovery programme. Self-care and addiction recovery must go hand in hand.

In recovery, an addict must learn how to be in touch with his or her emotions, and it is this knowledge that becomes life-changing. Many drug and alcohol addicts do not have a real sense of their emotions.

Often the body feels life’s negative effects, but the mind is not at peace with it, and thus, the person does not feel bad about it.

Self-care and addiction recovery can also involve taking classes that are available for addicts or their families. These classes are intended to help addicts have a better idea of what they should do, think and feel, to be healthy in all aspects of their lives. [1]

Mental health is best maintained by sticking to the routines that make you feel good. These routines include:

  • Taking your medication
  • Individual therapy
  • Check-ups
  • 12-step programs
  • Building a new social life

The last point seems to be the most important.

Building a new social life after addiction recovery is ensuring that you are actively involved in your community. Participating in groups, religious activities and other activities can make a difference in your life.

The more time you spend with others, the more fun you will find life and the more friends you will make. Nurturing positive relationships is key to self-progression, and immersing yourself in a strong community promotes self-worth and self-actualisation.

However, it’s also important to find time to be alone and allow yourself to move at your own pace. Realise that you do not have to rush back to your old life to achieve a sense of comfort.

One of the challenges that you may face as you make the transition back to life after addiction recovery is getting away from alcohol and drugs.

If you feel that you are going to relapse, then you will need to make some real sacrifices. You need to be prepared to make sacrifices and plans to avoid relapsing into the habits that got you in trouble in the first place.

The importance of nutrition in self-care

A key component of addiction recovery care is to find the right balance between the mind and body.

A desire to achieve a goal can create physical effects in the body that could weaken and hinder the addict from achieving the goals he or she sets for themselves.

Substance abuse addicts must learn to recognize these signs of exhaustion and treat addiction cravings as if it were just like any other part of the body, and treat it with respect. Today, nutritionists report that proper nutrition can help to minimize cravings for drugs and alcohol, reduce stress levels, and improve a person’s physical and mental state.

A person who has abused drugs or alcohol during this time can become malnourished and develop physical health problems. A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and processed foods can provide clarity and help replenish the nutrients that are often depleted during drug and alcohol abuse, as well as contribute to mental health. [2]

Physical fitness and exercise can also help reduce stress and balance brain chemistry, which can be negatively affected by mental illness and addiction. Physical activity can also improve the health and well-being of the body by increasing strength and cardiovascular function. It can also serve to reduce anxiety and act as a healthy coping mechanism for stress.

What happens when self-care is not enough?

Sometimes, self-care is not enough. You need to completely change your lifestyle and your environment to achieve new levels of your life.

Following a successful change of life after addiction recovery, there are a few changes that you need to make if you are looking to change your environment after addiction recovery.

While you are working on your social life, you also need to take the time to explore what your life is lacking. Are you missing certain types of activities or different kinds of people?

Maybe you are missing the physical activity that you once enjoyed. Whatever it is that you are missing, you need to find out where your interests lie and have a plan for those positive things.

Are you not spending enough time with the people you want to spend time with? If you have reached a point where you need to find a new source of socialization, this might be one place to start.

You might want to make a deal with yourself that you will take care of that project so that it does not become an excuse for not meeting your commitments. A good project will give you some kind of satisfaction, so you should try to make it something that makes you happy.

To avoid relapsing, you must put together a plan that will help you create a new, healthy, and trigger-free social life. It is also important that you take the time to be active and social, which will help you build a stronger social life in the future.

If you are finding it difficult to maintain a good social life, try using resources that you find available online. There are many free apps and digital discoveries that can help you develop and run your social life effectively.

Find time to set aside for yourself. This is one area where it can be easy to lose sight of what you want and instead of doing what you know will make you happy, you may end up doing what you do not want to do.

Find new ways to entertain yourself

Some addiction recovery activities focus on personal growth and development. The lessons taught at these programs can include such things as meditation, relaxation, yoga, art, exercise and more. This is all part of the process of learning how to cope with addiction and become a more well-rounded person.

Other aspects of recovery activities for the addict and their families are group activities. These will provide the addict with the opportunity to interact with others and not feel so alone. Group sessions may also involve family therapy, which is another key aspect of recovery.

Again, the key is for the addict and their families to learn how to put together self-care and addiction recovery care. They must learn how to think positively, learn what helps them relax and help them remain calm and focus, and to teach them how to look for positive aspects in every situation rather than negative ones.

Things like goal setting, planning, creating, studying and creating those moments of enthusiasm or work or play are part of self-care. Sometimes we need to have good old fashioned snacking and well-deserved breaks from work.

7 alternative healthy ways of life

You know what works best for you, but if you’re in need of some inspiration, here are some of the best self-care activities for addiction recovery:

  • Shopping
  • Going for an adventure
  • Getting a massage
  • Getting a pet
  • Trying a new hobby
  • Organizing your time differently
  • Spending quality time with friends and family

All other activities that include meeting friends and family members could be highly beneficial for all people who are recovering from addiction.

Self-care is all about managing stress and managing time. A variety of additional activities can help to manage stress, including playing board games, painting or drawing or writing poems. There are also many self-care ideas to help you deal with insomnia, such as aromatherapy, acupuncture or massage.

Find your self-care routine by making it a priority to get up early and go for a walk, go out with friends or go for a picnic. Commit to being there for yourself when you need someone to talk to.

Self-care ideas you can try right now

There are many best practices for a healthy body and mind which mainly revolve around doing what is best for you, and no one else.

Self-care is all about discovering what works and doesn’t work for you, so don’t be afraid of experimenting with healthy and productive activities. Some positive steps to take include:

It goes without saying that a healthy body promotes a healthy mind. Good dietary habits, getting enough sleep, doing daily moderate exercise and eating healthily are all positive and simple steps that you can implement from home in no time at all.

Having a mentor can be very helpful to a person who is trying to maintain a healthy body. The mentor can help you learn how to find yourself in the recovery process and will also help you achieve your goals. They can also provide an honest third party who will assist you during the process of recovery.

You can look for a mentor that has experience in drug addiction treatment or has experience with one of the best practices for a healthy body and mind.

Another factor that can help is practicing good relationships that assist your journey to recovery, not hinder it. When someone is around you that has been through the process, or understands what you're going through from an outside perspective, it can be highly beneficial to your health and wellbeing.

Learning to say no to people who are bad influences or who you do not wish to spend time with is a definite positive step. In other words, don’t submit to anyone that you do not know or feel comfortable with. Control your thoughts, look at everything that is going on and don’t forget to take care of yourself and your mental health.

The most important factor for a healthy mind a support group. It is quite common for people to be put off at the notion of going through the process alone. This leads to isolation and loneliness. A support group is the only way to overcome this problem.

There are plenty of support groups online and in real life that can help with your substance abuse disorders. 

Self-care techniques for a healthy mind also include meditation and breathing exercises. It has been scientifically proven that exercises for the mind such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, and other relaxing self-therapies help reduce stress and anxiety.

This ultimately promotes emotional health, and learning to control your breathing - as well as your thoughts - will offer you peace, clarity, and self-reflection.

Staying sober & alert

Another way to practice self-help techniques for a healthy mind is by exercising regularly. Even if you are not an athlete, walking, running, dancing or jogging can still help you maintain a healthy mind.

Exercise can be great for mental health. If you can reduce the stress level of your daily life, you will have more energy to recover from your addiction. Do yoga or meditation to help you stay focused during your recovery. Yoga and meditation can also improve your immune system.

Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy mind. Many people turn to drugs to get rid of sleep issues. Drugs can cause a negative association with sleeping. Your mental health is a direct result of your physical health and you cannot afford to lose focus during your recovery.

Self-care techniques for a healthy mind and soul include learning to manage your stress. Stress can negatively impact your body including making you feel physically sick. Use relaxation techniques to help you manage stress.

These techniques include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and yoga postures.

What are the signs of poor self-care?

Addiction can be a condition that takes away people’s standards, hopes, and characteristics. This is why it’s important to look out for signs of poor self-care, or self-neglect, in people who are recovering from an addiction. Signs of poor self-care include:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Bad beauty/ self-care routine
  • Careless attitude
  • An aggressive response to constructive advice
  • Neglecting activities that they are known to love

All these signs of poor self-care can cause many other problems, which is why every person with previous experience with addiction must think about the problem with poor self-care before it even starts.

Self-care & self-love

Self-care is part of the self-love process. You must back to basics to back to a healthy lifestyle again.

Addiction recovery activities that involve family and friends must be conducted in a way that promotes these habits and behaviors and brings the addict and family members closer together. There can be some conflict during this process, but it is part of the process and is never to be resented.

Self-care and self-love must be done in such a way that it provides a place for the addict to slow down and enjoy the process while staying on track and becoming stronger through the experiences.

With time, the more addicts grow their addiction recovery skills, the better they will be able to work on these habits and behaviors that brought them to the point where they needed help.

Ready to get help?

We offer high-quality rehabilitation & detoxification services tailored to your individual needs.

To discover your road to recovery, call us today on 0800 140 4690.

References

[1] https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/09/why-self-care-is-important-for-your-mental-physical-health

[2] https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/vision-alcohol-vol2/role-nutrition-recovery-alcohol-and-drug-addiction