Life post-treatment comes with many challenges. However, there are things we can do to better prepare for these challenges and tackle them head-on. Ask yourself this: Do you currently have a self-care routine?
Having a self-care routine can be an integral part of recovery. Many people struggle to prioritize taking care of themselves. You may feel awkward or selfish focusing on yourself. Also, you might be socialized into always thinking of others. The truth is that your physical and mental well-being matters.
The term “self-care” seems self-explanatory, but there are several stereotypes people often think of. For example, many people associate the concept with frequently taking lavish trips or having luxurious spa days. While vacations and spa days may be part of a self-care routine, self-care is not about constantly pampering oneself. It is precisely how it sounds, taking care of oneself.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines self-care as “taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.” They claim self-care can help people handle stress, decrease the risk of illness, and boost overall energy.
Examples of Self-Care
You don’t need to do opulent activities for self-care. Simple daily tasks are a valid way to care for your needs. Eight examples from NIMH include:
#1. Daily exercise, which can consist of a 30-minute walk or whatever you enjoy that gets your body moving
#2. Eating healthy and nourishing food and drinking plenty of water
#3. Quality sleep and creating a designated sleep schedule to follow every night
#4. Experiment with relaxing activities, such as wellness apps, meditation, breathing exercises, or journaling
#5. Learn to prioritize and set daily goals of what must be done to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed but having too much on your plate
#6. Remind yourself daily of everything you are grateful for – writing it down will help you practice gratitude
#7. Focus on staying positive in the face of challenges or distressing situations
#8. Stay in touch with friends and family, be honest about your struggles, and allow them to help you when necessary
While NIMH recommends these tips for practicing self-care, remember that every self-care routine looks different. You may have to experiment with various practices and see what feels right for you.
Creating a Self-Care Routine
Some people begin experimenting with new self-care practices while in treatment. Many facilities implement holistic or alternative therapies in their addiction treatment programs. That may include yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness-based methods.
If exposed to these holistic approaches, you should try them out and see what feels good. Before leaving treatment, you will likely sit down to create a relapse prevention plan. Use this time to make a self-care routine and incorporate these techniques.
Next, you must consider how to incorporate these practices into your daily life. You can set aside a designated time and switch up what you do each day. Start out small by setting 15 minutes while getting accustomed to your routine.
You may also strengthen your self-care by doing it with someone else. Perhaps you met someone at a support group meeting who is also new to recovery. Going for a 30-minute walk or hike, practicing yoga, or learning to cook healthier foods is something you can do together. Not only does it keep you both accountable to a self-care routine, but it builds fellowship as well.
How a Self-Care Routine Will Help Your Recovery
Now, you may wonder how a self-care routine will aid your recovery, but believe it or not, it can. You see, the path to recovery is a path to wellness. While it is a broad term, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) define wellness as being healthy in “many dimensions of our lives.”
According to SAMHSA, these dimensions include emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social. Achieving recovery is about bettering yourself in these dimensions of wellness, and self-care can help you do that.
Mental health — whether it is a struggle with anxiety, depression, or addiction — is about much more than mental illness. It also encompasses emotional and social well-being. Self-care is all about improving your well-being. In addition to helping you maintain recovery, it can reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress in addition to improving your mood.
Combining Relapse Prevention Plans and Self-Care
At the beginning of recovery, you should create a relapse prevention plan. Relapse prevention may include coping techniques, weekly therapy sessions, and support group meetings – essentially whatever it takes to maintain sobriety. When done correctly, a self-care routine will support or be a part of your relapse prevention plan. As discussed, practicing self-care is a vital part of maintaining recovery long-term.
When you notice your self-care becoming less of a priority, it may be time to revisit your relapse prevention plan to make sure you’re checking all the boxes. Often, you’ll find that one part of the plan isn’t being executed. This might be a sign you need to recommit to the plan. It also could mean you need further support from a treatment program. Neither is a failure on your part. Recovery is a life-long process. Simply take the steps needed to get back on track.
Individuals leaving treatment and entering recovery should consider a number of factors. First and foremost, you must remember that life post-treatment has many challenges, and there will be risks to sobriety. The best way to handle these risks and challenges is to create a relapse prevention plan, and part of that plan may include a self-care routine. Self-care is about taking the time to do things that improve your physical and mental well-being. At Excel Treatment Center, we support your self-care needs by offering a robust alumni program. We have hundreds of former clients involved in our community. You can find friends who will hold you accountable and support you. Start your recovery strong. Call (877) 331-4114 today.