While in active addiction, prioritizing time to take care of yourself and forming healthy relationships often gets pushed to the side. This is because when you are struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), your main focus can become the substance you are addicted to.
It is essential to think about yourself again during both treatment and recovery. This is a time to heal and start the battle toward sobriety.
Establishing self-care habits early on can help ensure successful treatment and recovery later down the road. Since you will be forming these healthy habits throughout your recovery journey, you can take them with you all throughout life.
What Is Self-Care?
The first person to coin the term “self-care” was Audre Lorde during the Civil Rights Movement. Since then, the term self-care has gained popularity in the mainstream media and has become a bit more materialistic than it was originally intended.
When someone thinks of self-care now, the first example that could come to mind is face masks and bubble baths. While these can be forms of self-care, they only serve to benefit your exterior without taking internal physical health or mental and emotional well-being into account.
Self-care should be an activity you do to recharge and improve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual states. This will look different for each individual.
Realistic Examples of Self-Care
Self-care is different for everyone because everyone has a unique idea of what makes them feel most like themselves. Some examples of healthy self-care that help many people thrive include:
It can be very beneficial to understand yourself, your SUD, and any co-occurring disorders you may have by learning to practice self-reflection. Every day, think, write, or talk through a self-reflection for the day. The perfect way to start is to keep a journal where, for ten minutes before bed, you just write down your thoughts. This can help you clear your mind, gain perspective and reduce anxiety.
Working on Setting Boundaries
During your time in treatment, you can discuss addiction triggers you may experience. Whether it is a person, place, or certain events that caused you temptation before, set boundaries regarding those things for when you leave treatment.
One of the most difficult aspects of this process is coming to terms with the fact that certain friendships or relationships no longer serve you. It’s crucial to remember that this is a normal part of life, and if a relationship has turned toxic, you need to let it go for your mental health.
Getting Your Body Moving
Exercise and moving your body, in general, have amazing benefits for your overall health, especially if you do it outdoors. There are many ways you can get your body moving outside, such as walking, jogging, dancing, and swimming. Many rehab centers offer group exercise times or have gyms and other areas for individual use.
Breathwork as a form of self-care may be less well-known than others. However, concentrating on your breathing is said to help reduce anxiety and stress. To understand how to properly practice breathwork, speak with the clinical staff at your treatment center or research different breathwork techniques.
The Connection Between Self-Care and Mental Health
Many people struggle with a dual diagnosis, which means they have SUD along with a mental health disorder. This could be depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Self-care is vital whether you have a dual diagnosis or not because it can help you or your loved one keep stress at bay. Stress is one of the biggest influencers of relapse, so being able to keep your stress under control will help you in the long run. Healthy self-care activities can help you cope with your stress in a much better way than self-medicating with substances.
Working on your mental health is one of the greatest things you can do while in treatment because healing SUD and mental health go hand-in-hand. Getting help at a rehab center will put you in a new environment with new people, so self-care is more crucial than ever.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), self-care can not only improve your mental health but also boost your immunity and increase your energy levels. Your self-care practice will look different from everyone else’s, depending on what you enjoy and what brings you peace. The main goal is to find what works for you, so this may take some trial and error. In the end, it will greatly benefit you in many ways.
Final Thoughts About Self-Care During Treatment
Self-care is all about learning to be kind to yourself. Since drug addiction is a form of self-harm, it is important to reverse this process by using some of the self-care techniques discussed above.
Recovering at an addiction center is a great way to learn positive self-care techniques. A great place to put those techniques into practice is at a sober living home.
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