Practising Self-Care In Recovery

The term “self-care” conjures up images of a spa or a bubble bath with candles. While it certainly can be those things, it is often deeper than that. Substance abuse is toxic on both a physical and spiritual level, and the process of recovery means undergoing a profound transformational process – one that largely centres on creating new coping mechanisms that are kind to our minds and bodies. Abstaining from alcohol and drugs is an important step to overall self-care. When in active addiction, things like physical and mental health take a backseat, and by the time recovery comes around, one is often in desperate need of self-care.

self-care self-care in recovery

Importance of Self-Care in Recovery:

  1. Prioritizing Well-being: Self-care is essential for maintaining sobriety and overall well-being. It helps individuals focus on their needs and prioritize their health, which can reduce the likelihood of relapse.
  2. Addressing Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Needs: Self-care encompasses various aspects, including physical care (e.g., exercise, healthy eating), mental care (e.g., meditation, journaling), and spiritual care (e.g., connecting with nature, practicing mindfulness).
  3. Building Resilience: By practicing self-care, individuals can develop healthy coping mechanisms that help them manage stress, anxiety, and other triggers that may lead to relapse. This resilience is critical for long-term recovery.
  4. Reducing Stress and Anxiety: Self-care activities like exercise, meditation, and journaling can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels, which are common triggers for substance use.
  5. Improving Mental Health: Self-care practices can help individuals process negative emotions, develop self-compassion, and build a positive sense of self, all of which are essential for mental health and recovery.
  6. Enhancing Social Well-being: Engaging in social activities and building a supportive network can boost mood, reduce feelings of isolation, and create a sense of belonging, all of which are important for recovery.

Taking Care of Yourself Physically:

It may sound obvious, but addiction wreaks havoc on the body, and physical health is vital to the recovery process. A proper diet is imperative to our well being and eating correctly provides us with the nutrients we need to perform at maximum capacity. After all, food is medicine. The role of exercise in the recovery of addiction is often largely underestimated. Exercise not only helps us to become physically stronger but also promotes the production of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Healthy sleeping patterns help us cope with stress better and allow our body and mind to recharge. Depression and sleep patterns are closely linked, so ensuring that we get enough rest is just as important as eating a balanced, nutritious diet and exercising.

Self-Care and Your Mental Health:

After prolonged substance abuse, it takes a while for the brain to heal and return to healthy functioning. It’s normal to feel mentally unsettled during early recovery, and learning to cope without the crutch of “self-medication” can feel overwhelming at times. Counselling can be extremely beneficial. Looking into aftercare programmes and relapse prevention through a certified professional can be helpful for long-term recovery.

Spiritual Self-Care:

Some argue that spiritual health is the most important aspect of recovery. Even those that do not consider themselves to be spiritual people can reap the benefits of holistic practices such as yoga and meditation. Additionally, mindfulness practices help us to become aware of physical and mental sensations, and help us to connect with our inner selves. 

Because active addiction is a form of self-abuse, it can be difficult for those in early recovery to rewire their thought processes. After a lifetime of seeking chemical solutions to our problems, it can take some time to implement self-care practices. However, this is an integral part of the recovery journey. Self-care can look different for everyone but at the end of the day, creating better self-worth, self-esteem, and mental well-being is a cornerstone of getting and staying sober.