Addiction takes a toll on your body, mind and spirit. Mastering recovery depends on repairing the damage and doing everything you can to move forward in healthy ways. The first step of recovery is getting a handle on the various aspects of your life that are essential to well-being and participation in the community. These include your home life, your relationships and your ability to participate in society.1We’ll look at the most essential life skills that will go a long way toward preventing relapse and improving your chances of long-term recovery.

Self-Care Skills

An article published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine stresses that excellent self-care is absolutely crucial to successful recovery.2 A lack of self-care is a major factor in relapse. Unfortunately, some people confuse self-care with selfishness. But taking good care of yourself is far from selfish; after all, if you aren’t good to yourself, it’s difficult to be good to others.

One of the most important life skills in recovery is taking good care of yourself. Here’s what that means.


Adequate sleep is very important for good physical and mental health. During sleep, your body repairs itself. Your brain does important work, including organizing and compartmentalizing your memories. Adequate sleep helps keep your mood stable during the day, and it reduces stress. A good night’s sleep is essential for overall good health and well-being.

Develop a bedtime routine so that you’re going to bed and getting up around the same time each day. Avoid caffeine later in the day, and don’t eat a lot before bed. Sleep in a dark, cool room for the highest quality of sleep. If you suffer from insomnia, talk to your doctor.


Exercise offers incredible benefits for people in recovery. An enormous body of research shows that exercise:

  • Reduces stress
  • Eases cravings
  • Reduces feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Improves self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Improves sleep
  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight
  • Improves your overall health and well-being

Getting 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week is ideal for getting the best benefits from exercise. A brisk walk, a bike ride, swimming some laps, a game of basketball and even pulling weeds in the garden are good ways to get exercise.

Eat Well

Good nutrition helps repair the damage done to your body by drugs or alcohol. The National Institutes of Health stresses the importance of eating healthy food in recovery.3 A nutritious diet makes you feel healthy and strong and promotes other healthy lifestyle choices. A healthy diet also helps you:

  • Maintain a stable mood
  • Maintain good overall health
  • Lose or maintain weight
  • Ward off cravings
  • Keep your blood sugar stable

A healthy diet is one that’s mostly plant-based and includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins like poultry and pork. Nuts, seeds, beans and legumes provide essential nutrients. Adequate hydration keeps your body’s systems functioning optimally. For the most part, avoid…

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