The Importance of Practicing Self-Care When You’re Recovering from Addiction
When you’re recovering from addiction, self-care is vital to your physical, mental, and emotional health—and to the success of your continued sobriety. In fact, the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine says that practicing good self-care during recovery is key to developing coping skills and preventing relapse from happening. The more time you spend caring for yourself and paying close attention to your mind and body, the easier it’ll be to detect the early warning signs of an emotional, mental, and physical relapse—and to prevent a relapse from occurring.
To learn more about the importance of practicing self-care as part of your recovery from addiction, and to explore the things you can do to care for yourself during this challenging time, read on.
What is self-care?
According to the Yale Journal of Biology, self-care focuses on the health and well-being of our emotional, psychological, and physical state. Most of us need to incorporate three types of self-care into our lives to feel our best during recovery, but some of us can flourish solely through physical self-care. However, self-care typically includes the following:
- Physical self-care revolves around a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, obtaining enough sleep, incorporating exercise into our days, and practicing good personal hygiene.
- Emotional self-care means we need to make time for ourselves, treat ourselves with love and kindness, get in touch with our emotions, and find ways to enjoy ourselves.
- Mental self-care means taking time to relax and unwind after a busy day, reducing stress levels, and finding healthy ways of clearing our minds.
When we practice good mental and emotional self-care during recovery, we eliminate our need to use alcohol or drugs as an escape from reality. Additionally, we’re less likely to turn to drugs or alcohol when we’re feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed with life.
Boost Your Health and Well-Being
During your recovery from addiction, it’s important to incorporate different types of physical, emotional, and mental self-care into your everyday routine. While some of the more vital forms of self-care are as basic as obtaining enough sleep each night, finding time to relax and unwind after a long day, and relieving stress from our lives, other types of self-care may include:
- Establishing healthy boundaries by saying “no” to the things you don’t want to do.
- Surrounding yourself with those who support your recovery.
- Eating plenty of nutritious foods, including leafy greens and whole grains.
- Exercising on a regular basis.
- Avoiding the people or situations that may trigger negative emotions.
- Processing and verbalizing your feelings and emotions.
- Challenging your mind through new activities.
- Decluttering your home and keeping up on household tasks.
As you incorporate self-care into your life, it’s also important to find different ways of reducing stress at home. Experts at Psychology Today recommend incorporating mindfulness meditation into your daily routine—as doing so boosts emotional health, reduces stress levels, and improves self awareness. Similarly, regularly practicing yoga can help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression while also calming the mind and improving physical fitness.
If you don’t have a quiet space that can be used to meditate or practice yoga, however, you may choose to design your own at-home meditation room. Choose an isolated area that’s free from distractions, and consider how much light you want to bring into the room. Also consider diffusing stress-relieving essential oils like lavender or lemongrass for added relaxation and stress relief.
Self-Care Needs Vary by Individual
While understanding the importance of self-care is crucial to a successful recovery from addiction, keep in mind that some self-care needs vary by individual. However, key signs of poor self-care during recovery include hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness—also known as HALT. As such, it’s important to remain mindful of these relapse warning signs as you recover from addiction.
As you can see, practicing good self-care is crucial to addiction recovery. When your emotional and mental health begin to decline, your chances of falling into a physical relapse are much higher. However, these self-care strategies will keep your emotional, mental, and physical health strong as you recover from addiction—helping you to detect and prevent a potential relapse from occurring in the future.
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