Self-care is important for everyone, but for individuals recovering from addiction it is even more crucial for their recovery and well-being. Individuals recovering from addiction often have self-esteem struggles and can feel worthless, which usually drives their addictive behaviours. Self-care is not selfish, it is necessary! When you fill your self-care cup, you are making less space for the addiction. It is important to learn to create inner calm and peace within yourself instead of turning to others or to addictive substances. Keep in mind that adopting a holistic view of self-care that encompasses mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects will be best for individuals recovering from addiction. Here are our best 10 self-care tips that we hope will give you some ideas to incorporate to help you take care of your mind and body in a healthy way:
Writing out your thoughts and feelings into a journal or diary is such a great way to calm the chatter in your mind. It helps you process a lot of worries and fears, and gives them a place to stay so that you’re not constantly ruminating. It will help uncover some buried pain and suffering, and looking back on previous journal entries will enable you to see patterns, important issues, and concerns that need to take priority over others. A smart way to start if you do not have a lot of time is to spend 5 minutes per day writing down what you’re grateful for, and what you are worried about that you can get back to and address later, so that you will not be thinking about it all day long. Allow yourself some time to process worries and anxieties in a safe place like a journal and then try to fill your mind with positivity for the rest of the day.
2. GOING TO THERAPY
By now you must know the benefits of going to therapy and/or group counselling. Working with mental health professionals is so important in recovery. Here at Strength Counselling Services we provide a variety of options for holistic healing in the form of therapeutic practice through both in-office and E-counselling to any location worldwide with a clinical focus given to mental, emotional, and physical health. Group therapy in particular is crucial to recovery. As the old adage goes: Connection is the opposite of addiction. Going to therapy allows you to express your emotions rather than keep them inside, and the best part is, you can do it from the privacy of your own home with e-counselling!
The feel good hormones that are released during exercise help tremendously with feelings of anxiety and depression, and can actually be a healthy distraction from addiction. You don’t have to do anything too extreme, even walking daily will help your mood regulation and your well-being. Thirty minutes of high intensity interval training has awesome effects on your body and brain. You can do these at home if you don’t want to go to the gym, and want an efficient strength-building workout. You can also try some yoga if you want a more relaxing workout. Yoga will move your body and mind together in sequences that involve deep breathing throughout the maintenance of strength building poses. It can help you feel more centred and helps minimize stress. If you prioritize your physical health for 30 minutes every day, you are going to feel more energetic and more able to handle the stresses of daily life.
Being in the moment is exactly what you need to eliminate worrying about the past or future. It is a hard practise but once you can tap into it, you can stop yourself from stressing too much and this will have a very positive impact on your recovery process. Meditation/mindfulness can also reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and make you feel healthier and more balanced. Practising this involves sitting quietly and letting your mind clear out and focus on something relaxing, like a beach, or a specific relaxing color. You can also listen to relaxing meditative music to help you get into it. The important thing is, whatever thoughts come into your mind, you do not need to judge, just send them on their way and breathe deeply.
5) EATING THE RAINBOW
If you have been filling your body with toxic substances for a long time, you will want to eat a lot of antioxidant-rich foods to restore your body’s depleted vitamin stores. The best way to do that is to load up on colorful fruits and vegetables. Eat lots of healthy salads, smoothies, fruit bowls, and soups, and make sure that you eat your protein and healthy carbs as well to have a balanced diet. When you eat healthy, you will feel better, be more active, be able to fight off colds and flus more easily, and have better skin. Adding omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-complex, and vitamin C are great for individuals recovering from addiction. You will also notice a marked improvement in digestion and a reduction in anxiety and depression.
6) SLEEP 7-9 HOURS PER NIGHT
Sleeping is so important and this cannot be emphasized enough. You cannot live without sleep, it is critical to mental and physical functioning. It wards off disease, clears out your brain from toxins, combats against anxiety and depression, and fights off cravings. You want to ensure you are on a steady and consistent sleep cycle, where you go to bed at the same time every day and wake up at the same time every morning, more or less. Turning off devices an hour before bed so that you can wind down is very helpful in getting to sleep faster as well. If you are using devices before bed, ensure that the “night shift” function is enabled. This changes the color of your screen so as to eliminate the effects of white screen light that can interrupt your natural sleep cycles.
7) STAY UP TO DATE ON ALL MEDICAL/DENTAL HEALTH APPOINTMENTS
Having a fear of doctors and dentists is fairly common. We are afraid of serious illnesses and being diagnosed with incurable diseases. Individuals recovering from addiction may fear that their addiction could have increased their chances of developing illnesses and diseases, and they may be afraid to talk to their doctors about it. Try to face the fear and go anyway! Keep yourself updated on all your tests, blood work, and dental cleanings so that you feel empowered and in control of your health. In the end it will make you feel better, not worse. Keeping in mind that serious illnesses are rare will also help ease the anxiety.
8) STOP FEELING GUILTY IN RELATIONSHIPS
Don’t let anyone in your life make you feel guilty if you need to take some time for self-care. Some people don’t understand this need, and how important it is for an individual recovering from addiction, specifically. Setting boundaries is really important with family members and friends if they are making you feel bad or like you are selfish for needing to take some time for you. If you have someone particularly needy in your life that you find drains your energy or that makes you feel bad in a toxic way, you may need to distance yourself emotionally, and possibly physically. Creating new, healthy relationships with like-minded people might be a great help in this area.
Many of us are guilty of checking our phones as soon as we wake up, right? Well, that can affect the entire day. We start seeing notifications for work, our to-do lists, and it all piles up and can set us up for a frustrating and negative day. What happens then? Anxiety is triggered. We went from waking up and having a new day ahead of us, to thinking about everything on our to-do list … and now? We can’t think about anything else and we can’t even enjoy our day. The brain needs to refresh itself after all the technology it has been flooded with each day. Make some time every day to unplug, and make sure you fully unplug from your cell phone one entire weekend day if possible. Leave your phone on “night mode” every night at a set time until the next morning and watch giving into temptations to check it!
10) REDUCE STRESS – A LOT
Stress is toxic to our bodies and minds. Coping with stress is not easy, and the ability to properly cope with stress is really important for recovery. Not being able to cope with stress can potentially lead to relapse. It can be hard to relax, but it’s like an exercise: The more you do it, the easier it will become. The more you make space for rest and relaxation, the easier you will find it to face any stressors that will come up at any point in your life. Taking time to de-stress is going to help build up resiliency.
As you can see, you may have a lot of work to do! Pick some of these and add them to your self-care routine today, you won’t regret it. Self-care is crucial to the recovery process. It is not selfish, it is necessary. It’s akin to putting on the oxygen mask for yourself before you can put on someone else’s. Being healthy inside and out, and taking time to address your mental, physical, and spiritual health will make you feel in control of your life again.