The Importance of Self-Care in Recovery
Some people confuse self-care with self-indulgences like spa days or splurging on purchases. While treating oneself can be part of self-care, when it comes to addiction recovery, ensuring your basic needs like nutrition, hydration, getting adequate sleep, and sticking to medication routines are some of the base parts of self-care.
An essential part of staying sober involves practicing self-care to reduce stress levels and triggers that could lead to relapse. People who practice self-care in recovery have an easier time maintaining long-term, successful recovery. They often develop deep, meaningful, and supportive relationships with others once they learn how to better care for themselves.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is the ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being, as defined by the National Institutes of Health.
Self-care focuses on developing and maintaining routines and habits that help you care for yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and logistically. When your emotional, physical, and mental health is good, negative emotions, stress, and difficulties in daily life are easier to overcome without resorting to drugs or alcohol.
Why Is Self-Care Important?
Self-care is important for everyone, especially those recovering from substance use disorders. Neglecting one part of self-care can have a domino effect and negatively impact other important aspects of life. For instance, lack of sleep means you won’t have the energy to exercise regularly or socialize, leading to isolation or frustration. Backsliding mental states can escalate and be a trigger for relapse.
Practicing self-care has a positive cumulative effect that eventually makes healthy habits second nature, leading to personal growth and long-term happiness and recovery.
Types of Self-Care
Types of self-care include physical, mental, emotional, practical, and logistical health. Self-care is different for everyone and involves all aspects of life.
Sometimes one part of self-care becomes more important than another depending on life events; learning to recognize your own needs and how to address them is essential to addiction recovery and effective self-care.
Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated help keep your energy levels up and help you feel good throughout the day. When you aren’t worried about feeling sick or exhausted, you are free to focus on other aspects of self-care.
Staying stimulated and engaged and addressing any mental health conditions with medication and regular therapy make it easier to keep on top of things and not allow negative thoughts or emotions to take over. Treatment programs and behavioral therapies can teach you the skills to deal with mental health challenges in ways that reinforce your recovery and confidence.
Recognizing what you are feeling, what caused it, and appropriate ways to deal with it are vital to maintaining a healthy mental state. Sometimes this means you must set boundaries with people who make you feel drained or remind you of using drugs or alcohol.
Emotional health also includes taking time to do things that make you feel good and proud of yourself, like setting and achieving goals or learning new hobbies.
Practical and Logistical Health
Planning for the expected and unexpected can reduce stress levels and eliminate anxiety over the future. Getting routine health screenings, attending support groups or group therapy, and making plans with friends are all things that support self-care and long-term recovery.
What Does HALT Mean?
Addiction specialists created the acronym HALT to make stopping and assessing your self-care needs easy. HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.
Being hungry can cause people to get irritable, tired, and distracted. Sometimes it is as simple as needing a snack because you skipped lunch or you’ve been neglecting your diet for a few days, and it’s catching up with you. Regardless of the cause, listening to your body and feeding it healthy food can help reset your mood and restore your energy levels.
Being angry sometimes is an unavoidable part of life, but many people deal with anger in destructive and harmful ways, including substance abuse. Utilizing healthy coping skills to realize and address your anger or remove yourself from the situation or person angering you is a form of self-care.
Being in recovery can feel lonely, and human interaction is essential to feeling connected and supported. Reaching out to a supportive friend or family member, attending a support group, or calling your sponsor are all ways to practice emotional self-care and break the feelings of isolation.
Being tired physically or mentally can affect your judgment, feelings, and perception of things and the people around you. Sometimes a nap or a morning of sleeping in can help you relax and reset. If lack of sleep has built up and worn you down, it may take a few days of recommitting to a healthy sleep routine.
Teaching your loved ones and friends about HALT can be helpful too. We aren’t always realistic when it comes to ourselves, so having someone who cares about your recovery is an extra layer of support to remind you to practice self-care.
Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Change happens in small, consistent steps that lead to something bigger and better. Self-care practices can start simple, a few at a time, and build into a routine. Some self-care practices are practical, and some are for fun, but as long as they are healthy and help you feel good, that’s what matters.
Self-care practices can include:
- A daily hygiene routine
- Meal prepping
- Regular exercise
- Attending support groups
- Keeping doctors and therapy appointments
- Meditating and practicing gratefulness a few minutes a day
- Taking recreational classes
- Keeping your living space clean
- Having lunch with a friend
- Exploring new places
- Experiencing nature
These are just a few suggestions for self-care practices. As you learn about yourself and recovery, you’ll develop unique habits that bring you peace and joy.
Self-Care in Addiction Recovery
At White Oak Recovery Center, we pride ourselves on our evidence-based, individualized approach to addiction treatment for effective, lifelong recovery. Our residential treatment facility provides a safe, comforting, and supportive environment to detox under 24-hour medical supervision and teaches you how to live free from substance use.
Our licensed and compassionate treatment team at White Oak Recovery Center understands that substance abuse can make even the most basic self-care seem unimportant. We are here to help you overcome negative thoughts and feelings and learn new skills and outlooks that lead to a successful, lasting recovery.
Our caring treatment specialists are eager to help you start a life rooted in recovery. Reach out now.