We hear the term “self-care” a lot in everyday conversation — it might bring to mind face masks or iced coffee. But the truth is, self-care is so much more than what social media portrays it to be. It’s a crucial aspect of taking care of your mental health and an invaluable tool in addiction and mental health recovery.
Why is self-care in recovery important?
Self-care is important because it is a close and intentional look at and meeting of your needs. When you’re in recovery, it is very important to become self-aware in order to realize what will benefit your recovery and what will harm it. Self-care is a way in which you can grow in self-awareness and, at the same time, take care of your needs.
Recovery is a challenging time of learning to, essentially, reinvent your life, reinstall healthy habits and rework your routines. If it sounds exhausting, that’s because it is. But it’s also rewarding, and making sure you’re taking good care of yourself during this process is the key to success.
Now that self-care sounds great and all, where do we start?
Great question. When it comes to self-care, it’s good to have activities that truly do look after yourself and benefit your well-being — in other words, self-care is not one size fits all. So, feel free to take into consideration these ideas and craft them into your own self-care routine that will benefit you best.
Maintain a healthy diet
Not only is a healthy, well-balanced diet necessary to replenish your body after the effects of drugs or alcohol, but eating healthy helps you feel good, mentally and physically. By focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet, one full of colorful fruits and veggies and proteins (like chicken, eggs, tuna and salmon), you can help rebuild your immunity, strength and overall health from the inside out.
Not to mention that meal planning is a productive use of time and a beneficial element to work into your recovery routine. Plus, when you have healthier food already prepared for yourself, you’ll be less tempted to turn to junk foods to satisfy cravings.
Sleep 7-9 hours a night
Essentially everyone knows how sleepy and unmotivated they can feel when they don’t get enough sleep at night. When you’re recovering from substance abuse, it’s even more important to give your body enough time at night to relax and recharge so you can focus on maintaining your sobriety. Plus, your body is working to heal itself after battling a challenging disease — sleeping at least seven hours a night not only helps your body reset, it gives you mental stamina for the day ahead.
Not only does regular exercise improve your body physically, but the endorphins your body produces during a workout can help improve your mood and give you more energy each day. Plus, exercise is also a great way to relieve stress that could otherwise put you at risk for relapse. Strive for at least 30 minutes of activity a day, whether it’s a walk around the block, a yoga class or a lift session at the gym.
Use healthy methods to cope with stress
No matter what the cause, stress often plays a rather large role in one’s development of a substance use disorder. By finding healthy coping mechanisms to reduce your stress levels, you can maintain better mental health and avoid relapsing during your recovery.
Some stress-reducing activities include:
- Listening to music
- Going for a run/walk
- Taking an afternoon to go on a drive
- Reading a book
- Working on a creative activity, like drawing or painting
- Doing something with your hands, like gardening, cooking or a DIY project
You know yourself best, so be sure to choose an activity that you know will help you cope with your stress in a healthy, productive way.
It’s okay to say no — whether you’re in recovery or not. Setting boundaries for yourself helps to eliminate potential stressors and can keep you removed from people or places that often cause increased anxiety in your life. Or, if you know that saying yes to an invitation or event is more than you/your schedule can handle, don’t be afraid to set that boundary and politely decline. In recovery, it’s more important to have healthy boundaries than to worry about people’s reactions to them.
Take the time to deep clean your living space and get rid of anything you don’t want or need. This includes furniture, decorations, clothes, shoes and even appliances. Take this time to revamp your life and breathe freshness and revitalization into your home. After all, if your home isn’t a place of rest and safety, you’ll find yourself living in a state of stress and that’s not helpful for anyone.
Take time for yourself
Whether you need a few minutes in the morning to quietly drink your coffee on the couch, sometime during the afternoon to go on a walk or an hour after getting home from work to meal prep and eat a healthy dinner, do it. The greatest self-care is recognizing what your brain and body need and taking the time to meet those needs.
Seeking professional help?
Self-care helps maintain sobriety and recovery, but if you need more guidance or support during this time, contact us at Silvermist Recovery. Our team of addiction and mental health specialists are here to help.