Self-care is crucial in recovery, but it’s one of the hardest things to prioritize. For most people in recovery, it has been a very long time since they’ve taken care of themselves. When they’re addicted, drugs take over. The addict may even stop basic grooming rituals, like bathing, shaving or brushing their teeth. So, they’re starting from a place where they need to relearn the importance of even the most basic self-care.
Here are some tips for practicing self-care in recovery:
Give yourself time to work through everything that’s going on in your life right now. If you can get through a day without relapse, it was a successful day. While you’re recovering, make an effort to get into a personal hygiene routine, but don’t beat yourself up over it. If you forget to brush your teeth or skip a shower, it’s okay. Thankfully, these things aren’t going to have a long-term impact. Do your best and know that you’ll eventually get to a better place.
If you don’t shave for a week or two, it’s not going to have a lasting impact on your health. But if you barely eat for this time, you’ll feel the effects. It can feel overwhelming to try to get everything back on track at once. So, focus on the things that affect your health. Eating right is one of the most important things you can do in recovery. Exercise and meditation are also important self-care techniques that can keep your mind and body healthy.
More than one study shows that yoga and meditation improve a person’s sense of well-being and have a positive impact on stress and inflammation markers.
If you can eat right and meditate most days, everything else is likely to fall into place. When your mind and body are healthy, you’re more likely to want to take better care of yourself.
Do things you enjoy
Everything is easier when you’re doing things you like. So if there’s something you tend to put off, consider making it more fun. For example, if you don’t like exercise, consider setting your workout to a soundtrack that pumps you up. Listening to music you like can have a positive impact on your mood and outlook. If you’re struggling with a personal hygiene routine, get products in a special scent that makes you want to use them. And when it comes to eating right, you can always find recipes to jazz up the foods you should be consuming. When you do healthy things in an enjoyable way, it’s like you’re indulging in your own health.
Keep a journal
The act of writing down your thoughts and feelings is extremely cathartic. It can help you better understand your own feelings, and it can help you work through negative thought patterns. The pen and paper are incapable of judgement, so you don’t have to worry about what anyone will think.
You can write about anything that comes to your mind, and no one ever has to read it. If you’re truly worried, you can burn the page after you’re done. But it’s usually best to keep it around, so you can refer back and see how far you’ve come.
Enjoy some alone time
Some people like to be alone more than others, but it’s good for everyone in varying doses. Start with a couple of hours each week and see how that feels.
You can spend your alone time meditating, running, cycling or sitting in silence. Try to unplug from technology at this time too. This should be a time when you are alone with your thoughts and feelings. It’s important to spend this time to recharge and take an honest look at where you are in the moment. When we’re around others, we often spend most of our time reacting to them and hiding our own feelings. This is okay to an extent, but we sometimes need to be alone with our own feelings.
Socialize with important people in your life
As important as it is to spend alone time, it’s also crucial to spend time with other people. Even if it doesn’t always feel this way, we are social creatures and need relationships in order to survive and be happy.
You don’t necessarily have to go out and make new friends (unless you’re looking for sober supports). The people you choose to be around should make you feel safe and secure.
But make sure you’re spending time with these people each week. It may be a visit to grandma or lunch with your siblings, but make the effort to connect with those who are important to you.
Do you struggle to find time for self-care in recovery? What are your best tips for pushing ahead and being productive?
About the Author:
Trevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who has been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.