11 Ways To Practice Self-Care In Addiction Recovery

An essential part of addiction recovery is self-care. Self-care can be comprised of any of a number of activities that you do to manage stress levels and take care of your physical and mental health.

If you are receiving treatment for a substance use disorder, you know a lot is involved in the recovery process. Only some of that process includes the levels of care in an addiction treatment center.

Your success in long-term recovery is ultimately dependent on you. And while you can receive help from a treatment center, one of your biggest assets in recovery is taking care of yourself.

What Self-Care Means

Self-care is exactly what the word suggests. There is a little more to it in terms of what’s involved, but ultimately, self-care means taking care of yourself.

Self-care can be divided into two categories: physical self-care and emotional self-care.

Some people might add a third category for spiritual self-care. If you are part of a faith or spiritual practice, you can certainly apply many of the principles here to that aspect of self-care.

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care involves taking care of your body by making choices that benefit you physically in the long run.

Choices that benefit your physical health may have to do with:

  • exercise
  • diet
  • sleep
  • healthy activities

Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care has to do with your mental health.

It is important to first understand that your emotional health is connected to your physical health. They are two categories, but they are not entirely separate.

Many of the things that you do to take care of yourself physically also impact you emotionally.

Emotional benefits of physical activity include:

  • less anxiety and depression
  • better cognitive function
  • better sleep

But there are certain aspects of emotional self-care that can only be handled mentally. And these too can positively impact the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

For example, practicing gratitude, setting goals and plans to achieve them, and staying positive are all ways to contribute to your emotional health.

Importance Of Self-Care

Maintaining your well-being has a lot to do with overcoming substance abuse, more than you might think at first glance.

It becomes harder to make positive decisions when you are despondent, have little energy, or are groggy from poor sleep.

This is why many treatment programs add practices such as mindfulness, relapse prevention, and other holistic and evidence-based therapies for maintaining sobriety.

Building healthy habits for recovery is like creating a strategy that is both proactive and reactive to help you deal with cravings, temptations, and other issues related to drug and alcohol use.

The stronger your healthy habits are, the better chance you have of maintaining long-term sobriety.

Ways To Practice Self-Care In Substance Abuse Recovery

Here are some ways to practice self-care.

1. Create Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries for yourself is one of the most important things you can do to protect your physical and mental well-being and sobriety.

When you leave a rehab program and return home, you will have to make decisions about what you can and can’t do or who you can and can’t be around.

Maybe there are friends who have an active addiction or family members who are permissive of alcohol or drug use. In this case, it may be helpful to set boundaries with a loved one who is close to you.

There are healthy ways to do this that don’t involve being harsh or judgmental toward other people.

Setting boundaries is about empowering yourself to make decisions about actions and people that impact your sobriety.

2. Develop A Sustainable Self-Care Routine

Routine is the engine of habit. When you repeat an action or a strategy regularly, that action becomes a habit.

Routine also continually reinforces habitual behavior. Essentially, you’re taking the mechanism that drove addiction and pointing it in a different direction, toward building healthy, positive habits.

3. Join Support Groups

When you are building a life free of alcohol or drugs, you need support. Ideally, you would want a healthy support network among friends and family, but that may not always be possible.

Joining a support group is one way to give yourself the motivation that you need to pursue your sobriety.

You can explore options such as:

4. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves being cognizant of what is happening around you and what you are thinking and feeling in response to it.

Mindfulness, or awareness, is important to self-care because it can be like a warning system. When you are mindful, you are more equipped to identify triggers or potentially tempting situations and respond to them in a way that takes care of your need to maintain sobriety.

5. Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Positive coping mechanisms are a big part of self-care because they replace alcohol or drug addiction with healthy ways to deal with stress levels and other negative emotions.

A coping mechanism could be anything that helps you process stress or the temptation to relapse without resorting to other addictive behaviors.

Some skills you can use to cope with stress or the temptation to use may include:

  • leaving situations that might make you prone to relapse
  • going for a walk around the block to clear your head
  • positive self-talk or other cognitive behavioral therapy strategies
  • creating a recovery card for your wallet with your top three reasons for staying sober
  • reaching out to people in your support group (and putting their numbers on your recovery card)

6. Have A Healthy Diet

Consuming nourishing food can be a very important part of self-care.

You can optimize your energy levels with nutrient- and protein-rich foods. This can help you to stay physically healthy and motivated to pursue healthy habits in recovery.

And there is something to be said about enjoying the food you put into your body. The simple act of making yourself a nutritious meal can do wonders for your physical and mental health.

Food can also provide an opportunity for mindfulness by lingering over a cup of coffee or a tasty snack and reflecting on your recovery progress.

It is common to think of a healthy diet as a constraint, but eating healthy actually empowers you to enjoy life and power your recovery.

7. Cultivate A New Hobby

Boredom can be a relapse trigger for many people. It’s much easier to get caught up in substance use when you don’t have alternative activities to spend your time doing.

A great way to eliminate boredom and lower your risk of relapse is to find a new hobby, or cultivate an old one.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be something that interests you, something you find enjoyable.

You might look into a new sport to practice, a class to sign up for, a community program to invest in, or artistic pursuit to practice.

8. Stay Off Or Limit Use Of Social Media

Social media can be a powerful tool for social connection. You can connect with people in your support network and use that connection as an opportunity to keep each other positive.

But social media has also been shown in some studies to have a negative effect on people who use it for long periods.

For many people, excessive social media use increases stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.
Try setting limits on your personal devices, or deleting social media apps altogether. It’s important to find a good balance that works for you and promotes lasting recovery.

9. Exercise

Exercise has been shown to be a positive motivator in addiction recovery.

A few of the benefits include:

  • providing a boost of endorphins, which can positively affect a wide range of physiological functions, including mood
  • encouraging healthy routines and structure
  • opportunities for social connection, such as group sports or exercising with a friend or partner
  • increased self-confidence and energy, leading to greater self-efficacy, or one’s confidence in their ability to complete a task or meet a goal

10. Get Outdoors

Another common form of self-care is spending time outside or in a natural setting.

Having a place to go that helps you feel calm and inspires self-reflection can be beneficial when it comes to maintaining sobriety.

Spending time in nature can reduce symptoms of mental illness and help to ground you in something outside yourself.

It also offers an opportunity for rest, stillness, and quiet reflection.

11. Incorporate Self-Care Into Your Daily Life

Strategizing these ways to practice self-care is in and of itself a form of self-care. If you can develop a way to practice these things while you are at work or out with friends, then you have taken a very important step toward making self-care happen.

These strategies could be as simple as taking walk on your lunch break or going someplace quiet for a few minutes.

The more you can incorporate self-care into your daily life as a routine, the more likely you will be to overcome triggers and maintain sobriety.

Self-Care And Your Recovery Journey

If you need help in your recovery, you can find it at Spring Hill Recovery Center in Ashby, Massachusetts. We can give you the treatment you need for all aspects of your recovery.

Reach out to us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

  1. Cureus — Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7364393/
  2. Health.gov — Physical Activity Is Good for the Mind and the Body https://health.gov/news/202112/physical-activity-good-mind-and-body
  3. National Institute of Health: New in Health — Mindfulness for Your Health https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2021/06/mindfulness-your-health#:~:text=You%20become%20aware%20of%20what's,This%20is%20called%20mindfulness.
  4. National Institute of Mental Health — Caring for Your Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Social Media and Youth in Recovery https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/social-media-youth-recovery
  6. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine — Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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