Ways to Practice Self-Care in Recovery
Triumph on the journey of recovery always uses multiple paths. Long-term recovery success depends on examining, attending to, and maintaining the parts of one’s life that constitute who we are as individuals. Practicing self-care in recovery include four primary areas – the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual facets of an individual.
Physical Self-Care in Recovery
Individuals struggling with addiction have difficulties believing that they are worthy of certain things, such as love, respect, or to be treated with dignity. Sometimes it can be hard to envision someone wanting to date them, which leads to “letting themselves go.”
In other cases, individuals may work themselves to the point of exhaustion. They can ignore symptoms of poor health and keep right on working despite a cold, flu, or other illness. Those struggling with addiction must remind themselves regularly that they do indeed matter.
Fortunately, when it comes to physical care, a little bit can go a long way. For example, the following activities can be easy to integrate into daily life:
- Practice Tai-Chi
- Take daily bicycle rides
- Walk for 30 minutes a day
- Perform stretching exercises
Often it takes verbal reminders with themselves consistently, enforcing that it is not only okay to take care of their own physical needs, but a responsibility to themselves to do so. It must be acknowledged that it is acceptable to allow the world to move past them for however long they need to take care of themselves.
Most importantly, individuals in recovery who maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep to increase their long-term recovery success. With regular practice, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will become a good habit to keep the momentum going and further the potential of relapse.
Granted, everyone has bad days, but individuals recovering from addiction can sometimes beat themselves up unnecessarily for even the smallest infractions. This behavior can lead to a deluge of negative self-talk. Negativity in almost any form can quickly turn them down a dark path, potentially right back into their addiction if they are not careful.
Conversely, individuals also need to be careful about staying grounded when things go well. When individuals struggling with addiction begin to get their life back on an upward swing and life starts to go “right” for them, any kind of bump or hiccup can easily get blown out of proportion. Panic and fear can set in which, and if left unchecked, it can become the first step on an inevitable downward spiral.
Even if the recovery path is seemingly moving along without any hurdles, a premature feeling of having all issues under control may occur. When this happens, those in recovery may feel they no longer need support, guidance, or counseling. Therefore, it is important to keep mentally engaged, such as:
- Have a good laugh
- Commit acts of kindness
- Regularly express gratitude
- Strengthen social connections
To assist in managing both the ups and downs experienced during recovery, it is critical they surround themselves with people who can help them stay grounded, stable and help gain a better perspective when even the small molehill begins to look like a giant mountain.
Emotional Self-Care in Recovery
Mental and emotional care share a strong link, but each requires individual attention to maintain a long-term, successful recovery trajectory. Individuals in recovery often become flooded with a wide range of emotions they may have been repressing for years, if not decades. Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of recovery is learning how to deal with this sudden onslaught of highly chaotic emotions appropriately.
Caring for one’s emotional health requires a self-awareness beyond that needed for maintaining good physical or mental health. Positive emotional care involves one to:
- Make time to rest, relax, and recharge
- Accept responsibility for their actions
- Take time to reflect and journal feelings
- Be aware of your self-talk and inner critic
Individuals in recovery can also quickly ping-pong between almost violent emotional extremes.
Proper emotional self-care in recovery involves accepting this reality and learning to not act on the constant changing whirlwind of emotions. Instead, they should simply feel them, walk through them, and learn how to make better, more rational decisions when they are no longer in the grip of powerful and intense emotions.
Spiritual care can sometimes involve religious practices, but not always. In some cases, individuals struggling with addiction may even be dealing with some religious abuse that contributed to their addiction. In others, spiritual self-care may involve finding ways to reconnect with spiritual practices while simultaneously disconnecting them from religious or spiritually abusive practices.
Spiritual care may include:
- Religious practices
Every human being has their own unique beliefs regarding spiritual matters. Where we might have come from, where we might be going, and what our purpose is on earth are part of the human experience. For some, not having the answers or questioning currently held beliefs can trigger negative behaviors. Finding a safe place to investigate and explore one’s personal beliefs free from criticism or judgment needs to be a part of any recovery plan.
If you or someone you love has struggled with addiction and is beginning the recovery journey, contact us to learn more about our post-care services. We customize recovery plans to help those in recovery grow and thrive as they re-enter a healthy life.