Unfortunately, addiction quickly takes over your life. Those things that were once important to you (e.g., health, responsibilities, relationships, hobbies) take a backseat as your addiction is now your number one priority.
When you eventually get sober life seems chaotic and you may continue to forget about taking care of yourself. In reality, self-care during addiction recovery isn’t optional, but mandatory. Although this may sound easy, most people (even those who aren’t in recovery) struggle to find healthy ways of taking care of themselves. So, whether you’re in recovery or haven’t ever been in addiction, here are some things you should know about self-care.
What is self-care?
Self-care during addiction recovery is defined in just the way it sounds. It’s taking care of yourself. This isn’t something that should be overwhelming or scary for us.
Self-care is different for everyone. For some people, it means taking a long bath or treating yourself to a new clothing item. However, others define self-care as doing the dishes once they’re no longer feeling depressed or buying a ticket to watch a movie when they’re dealing with stress.
How do I engage in self-care?
Unfortunately, some people think that it’s selfish to engage in self-care during addiction recovery. What they fail to understand is that there’s a big difference between selfishness and self-care: With self-care, you’re showing yourself love, compassion, and patience. Regardless of where you are in your life or recovery, self-care is essential and there are a few ways of engaging in it.
Mindfulness is something you hear a lot about while in recovery. Simply put, mindfulness is the practice of being aware of what’s happening in your mind and body. While remaining in the moment is challenging and uncomfortable at times, it’s also a great way to get to know yourself better.
Connect With Other People in Recovery
Mental health conditions thrive in solitude. An important part of self-care during addiction recovery is discovering other people who can build you up and support you in your choice to lead a sober lifestyle. A great way of doing this is by attending support group meetings. If you find that 12-step programs aren’t a good fit for you, there are other options also available today.
Find Balance in Your Life
Society tends to place a lot of value on what we do. They think that by being busy we’re good, productive, and valuable. This mindset is both destructive and dangerous for everyone, but especially for those who are in the early stages of recovery.
It’s important to find a healthy balance between work/school, socializing, and attending recovery meetings. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You simply need to find a way to balance the load so you don’t feel overwhelmed and relapse.
Take Time to be Alone
Although you may find great comfort in always being surrounded by other people, this isn’t a realistic way to live. This doesn’t mean that connecting with other people isn’t important. It just means that you also need to take some time out to be alone. Eventually, you’ll start valuing this time and all the things you can do with it (e.g., journaling so you discover the new sober you, exploring new locations, finding new hobbies or things you enjoy, listening to new music, getting involved in theater or music)
Set Healthy Boundaries
While in the active stages of your addiction you probably spend a lot of time around people who were also active in their addiction. Once you choose to get sober this will affect these relationships. The best thing you can do for yourself here is cut off all communication with these people so you aren’t tempted.
Self-care during addiction recovery means protecting yourself and your sobriety. To do so you must remain open about telling others that you’re choosing to live a sober lifestyle. This allows the people around you to know that you won’t drink or use drugs with them anymore.
Setting boundaries about who you spend time with, where you go, and what you do will help ensure that you don’t find yourself in situations that could lead to relapse. Thankfully there are a lot of great opportunities ahead of you through which you can form relationships with people who are either in recovery or that respect you enough not to use around you.
What happens when self-care isn’t enough?
Self-care during addiction recovery is important in that it’ll help you cope with the current challenges you’re facing. However, you may need to reach out for a little extra help here. While this can be scary, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. Not engaging in self-care is damaging and you deserve the best that life has to offer. So, take some time to engage in self- care starting today.