self care in recovery

Why You Should Prioritize Self-Care in Recovery

Self-care is extremely important to your mental, physical, and behavioral health. But, self-care in recovery takes on new importance. While you are actively using drugs or alcohol, often, basic self-care is not a priority. As a result, your mental health and self-worth further decline. So, an important aspect of treatment is defining what self-care means to you.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is any experience that recharges your mind, body, and spirit. It can include taking a long shower, exercising, and spending time with loved ones. Attending therapy is crucial self-care, specifically in recovery. Self-care in recovery means reprioritizing what brings you joy, connection, and peace of mind. 

As important as it is to understand what self-care is, it’s crucial to understand what it isn’t. Self-care is not putting other’s needs before yours, overextending yourself, or having poor boundaries in relationships. Above all, self-care is not overlooking what makes you happy. 

Some people think self-care is selfish or indulgent. But, it is the total opposite. By practicing self-care and learning to love yourself, you can be fully present for those you love. At the same time, self-care in recovery can help center you and encourage Recovery for Life. 

Self-Care in Recovery

Building a routine of self-care in recovery is vital in maintaining your recovery. Because with recovery, come back the people and activities that your addiction chased away. Although these are incredible blessings, they can make you focus less on your self-care. As a result, cravings and thoughts of substance use start creeping in, and you risk the recurrence of use.

In recovery, there is an expression, ‘ anything you put in front of your recovery, you stand to lose.’ Now that you are getting back what substance use disorder took away, you don’t want to lose it again. It is crucial to remember your self-care in recovery and practicing things that maintain mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Self-care in recovery is not a concept; it is an action. You must put into action the practices of self-care in order to make it a daily habit. Today’s culture says self-care means luxury vacations, spa days, and 5-star dinners. And while those are nice, they are occasional experiences. And the idea behind self-care in recovery is finding daily things that make you happy. 

6 Elements of Self-Care in Recovery

Self-care includes taking care of your whole being. This means living a balanced lifestyle – being mindful of nutrition, exercise, and sleep. It also includes setting healthy boundaries, practicing self-acceptance, and becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

There are 6 elements to self-care in recovery that will nourish your entire well-being. While they are beneficial in recovery, everyone should practice self-care. 

Physical 

Caring for your body inside and out is physical self-care. It means getting eight hours of sleep every night, taking a long walk, and cooking wholesome meals. When you prioritize your physical self-care, you have more energy for yourself and others. 

Emotional

Emotional self-care is vital for your overall well-being. Whether it is friends, loved ones, or your therapist, you need someone to help process your feelings. Additionally, using art, music, and dancing is a great way to release negative emotions. 

Self-care in recovery helps you avoid people and situations that can be stressful and cause cravings. But setting boundaries and recognizing your thoughts and feelings are all part of self-care. Above all, self-care in recovery helps you work through your past experiences by releasing your emotions. 

Mental

Trying new activities that mentally challenge and stimulate you are great ways to practice mental self-care. Read a new book or put a puzzle together. At the same time, a meaningful and inspiring conversation with a friend is also self-care. Trying new activities can prevent you from getting into a stagnant mind frame, leading to thoughts of substance use. 

Spiritual

Your spiritual self-care in recovery is often kick-started in holistic therapy programs. These programs incorporate yoga, meditation, and mindfulness into your treatment plan. Maybe you find spiritual happiness in books, or perhaps you find spiritual peace walking through the forest. Your spirituality is personal and makes you feel connected to a higher power. While also lessening the feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

Social

Social self-care is important because having close relationships in life is crucial. So, taking time to nurture these relationships is an essential element in self-care. But, social self-care also means being aware of the relationships that are not beneficial to your recovery. Joining 12-step groups and volunteering are great ways to build healthy new friendships. 

Practical

Practical self-care involves the aspects needed to sustain life. For example, buying groceries, doing housework, and budgeting. Some people think of these as chores. But, in recovery, it makes you feel responsible and accomplished. 

Practical self-care may mean decluttering your home and designing a calm living space. Handling finances can be a burden, but setting up a routine can make it easier. If you struggle with mental and emotional issues in recovery, controlling the practical areas in your life can be very rewarding. 

Daily Practices of Self-Care in Recovery

People in recovery may be out of practice when it comes to self-care, and it can be challenging to get started. However, there are many simple things you can do daily to incorporate self-care in your life. 

Stay Connected

When you feel connected, your recovery thrives. For this to happen, you must be part of a supportive community that knows what you are going through. They can offer you advice, love, and support in your recovery journey. Staying connected to others often means joining groups that prioritize spiritual wellness. 

Practice Mindfulness

Being mindful means being fully present in both the good and bad aspects of life. Being mindful in everyday life reduces the chance of losing sight of your overall wellbeing and recovery. For example, yoga and meditation are two practices of sitting peacefully and compassionately with yourself. 

Practicing mindfulness doesn’t take much time. To begin with, 15 minutes of meditation or yoga can make you feel refreshed and ready to tackle any challenges. Making these practices part of your daily morning or evening routine is an easy habit to promote your recovery.

Be Creative

When you were younger, were you creative? Did you like to paint or dance? Unfortunately, substance use quickly makes those activities unimportant in your life. Maybe your childhood was difficult, and you never discovered your creative side. Addiction treatment is the perfect time to explore this side of yourself. 

Recovery offers the chance to find your passion, such as photography, making jewelry, or drawing. Find a hobby that brings you joy and enriches your mind and spirit. Everyone is creative in their own way, so if you find drawing boring, then dancing may bring you joy instead. 

Self-Care and Maintaining an Attitude of Gratitude

An important aspect of self-care in recovery is having an attitude of gratitude. Many people struggle with the concept of gratitude. However, it is simply valuing the good things that happen to you and taking time to acknowledge and be thankful for them. In recovery, this is an extremely valuable part of self-care. 

Take Stock Of Things You’re Grateful For

Whether you have a lot of good in your life or don’t, you can always find one thing to be grateful for. For instance, in recovery, you can be grateful for making it this far. Or, you might be grateful for the people who helped you when you couldn’t help yourself. 

Recognizing all the reasons you are blessed, what has gone wrong, and how your life is better is crucial in self-care in recovery. You may want to use a gratitude journal to track your recovery progress. Doing this is a great way to look back and be grateful for how far you have come. 

Pay Attention to the Little Things

Although there are many things to be grateful for, too many people spend time looking for big things to be thankful for. However, things don’t need to have significance to be grateful. Maybe someone wished you a great day, or your favorite plant bloomed; there are endless reasons to be grateful. 

What makes you happy on a daily basis? Is it the taste of fresh coffee in the morning or learning something new? Whether it is a favorite tv show, a good book, cleaning your house, or sitting under the stars, it is worth recognizing if it brings you joy. 

Helping Others Brings Joy

Typically, people are happier when they help others. It doesn’t matter whether you volunteer at a community shelter or help your friends or loved ones; it triggers the brain’s reward system in the brain. This leaves you feeling overall happier. Helping others is another facet of self-care. 

Forgive Others and Yourself

The biggest threat to being happy is thinking you have to be perfect. Self-care in recovery is not comparing yourself to others. You struggle with a disease known as substance use disorder, so you shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed

Although you made mistakes, you are now in recovery and trying to do better. So recognize that because forgiving yourself is crucial self-care in recovery. At the same time, you need to forgive those who may have said or done things to make your life harder. Forgiveness gives a new perspective and more things to be grateful for. 

Discover Self-Care in Recovery at Sana Lake

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. Our holistic therapies are beneficial in building positive self-care in recovery. Contact us today to find out more. 

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.