Addiction treatment experts agree that taking care of your mind, body and spirit are essential tools for maintaining addiction recovery and a life of sobriety.
Recovery from addiction is an everyday practice that can be overwhelming at times. Even those who have been successful at remaining clean and sober for a long period of time sometimes feel doubt and fear, and that can be a dangerous place for people in addiction recovery. When emotions are overwhelming it can quickly cause a downward spiral that ends in relapse.
To learn about how holistic activities can help you practice self-care read: What is the Role of Holistic Activities in Recovery?
If you went to rehab, you probably learned about the importance of practicing self-care in recovery. It was likely talked about a lot. That’s because as a person in recovery, dealing with emotions that you used to try to numb or escape from, self-care plays a huge part in avoiding the end of that downward spiral.
Self-care in recovery involves taking care of your mind, body, and soul. It is a self-nurturing that can help you deal with life on life’s terms, and keep you from making the wrong choices when you feel strong emotions or become overwhelmed.
The following is a list of things that you can do to take care of yourself, physically, psychologically, and spiritually in recovery.
- Get enough sleep. Everything feels worse and more intense than it is when you’re tired. Try to get a good night’s sleep every night, and talk to your doctor if you have trouble falling or staying asleep. Take naps when you can, they often act as a reset when you need one.
- Eat when you are hungry. Don’t allow yourself to get overly hungry. That will lead to grumpiness and discontentment. Do your best to eat regularly throughout the day – but be mindful to eat healthy foods that make you feel satisfied and energized.
- Get some exercise. Physical activity is not only good for your body, it helps ward off depression too. Even if you were not an exerciser before you got sober, you will find that increasing your physical activity, even a small amount, improves your mood.
- Keep your doctor appointments. Don’t miss appointments with your doctor, psychiatrist, or your therapist.
- Take your medication. If you are prescribed medication, for psychological, psychiatric, or medical issues, be sure to take it and to not run out between refills.
- Take a bath. Sometimes a long soak in a bubble bath can help calm down overwhelming feelings.
- Get outside. Spend some time outdoors – go to the park, or for a walk around the block, somewhere that stimulates your senses with a beautiful view, the smell of pine trees, or the touch of a gentle breeze.
- Talk about your feelings. Reach out to someone who understands, like a loved one, supportive friend, sponsor, or therapist when you are feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes just talking about what you are feeling takes the power away from it.
- Shut-down negative self-talk. Pay attention to the thoughts that you are having and consciously shut-down the negative self-talk. This isn’t always easy, but if you imagine that you are hearing someone say those things about someone you love instead of yourself, it might make it easier to quiet them down.
- Practice acceptance. Identify things that are upsetting to you that you have no control over, and try to let go of the negative feelings associated with them.
- A lot. Get together with someone who makes you laugh. They say that laughter is the best medicine for a reason.
- Do something creative. If you already have a creative interest in something, work on it. If you don’t, try something new. Being creative and focusing on an activity gets you out of your own head and lowers stress and anxiety.
- Just write. Whether it’s narrating your day, writing about your feelings, writing poetry, or writing about your dreams and goals, expressing things on paper can be very calming.
- Read a book or watch your favorite movie. While you don’t want to make avoidance a habit, a little bit of healthy distraction now and then can help you reset your internal stress-o-meter.
- Spend time with friends and family. This works if you have supportive friends and family. If the opposite is true, ignore this one.
- Tell yourself the truth. When negative thoughts and feelings begin, tell yourself the truth about them. Not everything that we think is necessarily true, so be objective and be honest with yourself.
- Don’t over schedule yourself. It’s alright to say no, or to not accept every invitation. If you lead a busy life, be sure to build some downtime into your schedule. Relaxation is an important part of self-care.
- Pray or meditate. Set aside some time to pray or meditate each day. Even if you aren’t spiritually inclined, a short period of quiet time can do wonders for your peace of mind.
- Go to meetings or support groups. Enjoy the fellowship at 12-step meetings or other recovery-related support groups. It’s always good to be around people who you know understand you.
- Attend worship or religious services. If you belong to a church, or would like to, attend services. Focusing on your spiritual needs can provide comfort, lessen anxiety, and help you to be mindful.
Self-care is vital to recovery. At first it may seem like you’re being selfish with your time, but in reality, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you will not have anything left over to offer anyone else. There is a huge difference in being the self-centered person you were when you were using or drinking and taking care of yourself first so you can offer your very best to your loved ones. Take time each day to do the things for yourself that you would do for someone you loved who is in recovery. Not only will it help you stay sober, it will help you be present for your relationships and it will help you stay firmly planted in your addiction recovery.
Reach out to us if you feel the need for support from caring experts who know how to develop a self-care plan and understand about addiction recovery.