Addiction is a complex, chronic mental health disorder that affects virtually every area of a person’s life. Receiving professional treatment for this disorder can begin the healing process, but the effects of addiction will outlast the duration of treatment. That is why most treatment facilities provide their clients with tools outside of treatment that encourage emotional growth and healing.
Self-care is one of these tools for discovery and healing. It is a key factor in the longevity of recovery, which is often overlooked. This guide will explain what exactly self-care is, how to master it, and why it is crucial to support your health and well-being in recovery.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is the conscious act of taking care of oneself. We often cannot help others if we have not first helped ourselves. Those with a substance use disorder (SUD) and their family members often develop co-dependent tendencies in which they put the needs of others before their own, leading to low self-worth and disappointment. By participating in self-care, individuals dedicate a portion of their lives to helping themselves through their life challenges.
Self-care is the act of taking care of one’s mind, body, and spirit by engaging in activities that promote health and reduce stress. If an individual begins doing these activities, it can increase their confidence and prevent feelings of distress in times of trouble. Self-care can encourage level-headedness that allows them to help others when the time comes.
Types of Self-Care
For those new to the idea of self-care, discovering which activities are most enjoyable and beneficial can be a long path of self-discovery. Becoming knowledgeable of what qualifies as self-care can help uncover what areas of opportunity to encourage a healthy life while opening the mind to new ones.
Some examples of self-care include:
- Cleaning: Whether it is regular cleaning, doing laundry or dishes, or making the bed every morning, keeping a clean living space can reduce stress and inspire motivation.
- Cooking or baking: This can be a gratifying activity that promotes health and a nutritious lifestyle that makes individuals feel physically and emotionally well. Cooking a proper meal naturally releases dopamine, as individuals feel they did a job well.
- Exercising: Whether it is a low-intensity exercise like taking a walk around the neighborhood or high-intensity exercises like weight lifting or cardio, keeping the body in motion can encourage the release of endorphins and promote heart and lung health.
- Massaging: Massages can physically relieve tension in the body while consequently relieving stress.
- Outdoor activities: Pastimes like fishing, hiking, beach outings, and bike riding can help absorb Vitamin D and increase energy levels.
- Making a to-do list: Crossing things off of a to-do list can be highly rewarding and keep individuals on track throughout the day.
- Reading: Reading a good book provides an escape from reality that is not a replacement for the use of drugs or alcohol.
- Making art or music: Art and music are critical forms of expression that allow individuals to release negative emotions in a healthy way.
- Baths and saunas: The relaxing, warm nature of baths and saunas ease stress and automatically promote the release of tension in the muscles.
- Practicing deep breathing: Deep breathing exercises have proven to prevent the excitability symptoms of anxiety and ADHD.
- Watching television: Enjoying a television show can be a great way to wind down and reward oneself after a long, productive day. It also provides a distraction and an opportunity for the brain to wander.
- Drinking water: This is a relatively simple task, but it can be difficult to remember. Our bodies are made up of 70% water, which means they need a lot to function well.
One hurdle in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is battling boredom. When an individual is in active addiction, much of their time, money, and energy is spent acquiring, using, and being under the influence. Once they stop, they can find that they have a lot of time to fill in order to distract themselves from the temptations of relapse. Finding healthy, fun, sober activities to fill that time diverts an individual’s attention to their own well-being and reminds them why they are in recovery in the first place.
While not all activities that qualify as self-care are the most fun — like cooking or cleaning — the rewarding sensations that follow can motivate an individual to continue participating in these activities. The outcome is the development of healthy habits in recovery that promote long-term growth and healing and fill time.
Some benefits of self-care are:
- Provides a distraction from temptations
- Improves physical health
- Promotes mental health and productive coping strategies
- Combats stress
- Boosts self-esteem and feelings of importance
- Allows individuals to be in a position to help others
In recovery, self-care is a lifelong project necessary for combatting the challenging physical and psychological effects of addiction. While in theory, acts of self-care can seem quite simple, in practice, they involve motivation and persistence in order to achieve a better state of mental and physical health. Individuals are in charge of addressing their own needs to promote this health, which requires structure.
While it can feel selfish devoting so much time to your health and wellness, taking care of yourself is necessary to provide better care and support for others.
Self-care is an essential factor in promoting physical, mental, and spiritual health in long-term recovery. Laguna Shores Recovery understands this importance and teaches our clients how to better cater to their needs outside of addiction treatment. Call us today to learn more about our services and facility at (866) 229-9923.