Self-care gets a bad reputation. Some people feel that self-care insinuates unnecessary indulgences or is simply a justification for expensive hobbies. Self-care at its core is so much more than that. In fact, it can be the key to staying sober.

What is self-care?

According to the World Health Organization, self-care is the ability of people and their communities to promote health, reduce the risk of illness, maintain overall wellbeing and cope with limitations. Self-care is an all-encompassing term for any practice that supports health or minimizes negative outcomes.

What does self-care look like practically? The list is potentially endless. Some common applications of self-care in daily life include the following: journaling, reading, writing, drawing, singing, dancing, running, biking, swimming, cooking, praying, meditating, spending time outdoors, socializing, stretching, crafting, spending time with animals, traveling and so much more.

At first glance self-care may seem too glamorous for your busy schedule, but including time to nurture your body and soul is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

The importance of self-care during addiction treatment

Perhaps there is no time self-care is more critical than during addiction recovery when stress is an everyday occurrence. Triggers and cravings can pop up at any moment, and the best defense against relapse can be a sound mind and an inner peace. Self-care can help you get to a place where you’re able to cope through hard times and prevent future distress.

Self-care during recovery may require some modifications and change of habits. For example, you’ll have to acknowledge that your old routine of stopping by the bar to unwind from work is not constructive. While in the past it might have felt like a way to alleviate stress, the consequences outweigh the pros.

In order for self-care to be effective you’ll need to reflect on what habits you need to kick and which new skills you need to form. At first self-care during addiction treatment will be a learning process, but as you put in the work you’ll soon reap the benefits.

The steps to practice self-care

1. Reflect on what makes you feel good

Self-care should improve your life emotionally, physically and spiritually. Finding practices that address your various needs won’t happen overnight, but trying out different activities and evaluating them as you go can make the process easier. You may be able to incorporate old passions, but be careful not to include anything that could invite temptation to return to drugs or alcohol.

2. Start small

Perfect self-care routines take time and energy, so building up slowly can make them more sustainable in the long-term. Try starting with five minutes a day, and once that’s a habit change it to 10. Every time you’re able to keep self-care in your schedule for a week, add five more minutes. Demanding schedules may limit your window of time for self-care, but an hour a day should be sufficient to keep your health a priority.

3. Don’t let self-care be a chore

Self-care will never be effective if you feel like it’s just another item to add to your to-do list. Self-care should feel enjoyable every time you do it. If your chosen activities feel monotonous or you’re not noticing benefits, switch up your routine. Try a new hobby or aim for a different time of day. Add friends to the mix to make it extra fun.

4. Form sustainable habits

While financially investing in your health sounds ideal, spending money on a weekly professional massage or a shopping trip isn’t realistic for most budgets. Self-care works best when there are minimal negative effects. Expensive, time consuming, emotionally exhausting or logistically difficult activities should be special occasions and not on your weekly schedule.

5. Do your research

The wide world of self-care might seem overwhelming at first glance. With such a diversity of activities it can be difficult to know where to start, when to switch up the routine and what self-care is most effective. If you’re at a roadblock, look at the science. Exercise, healthy eating, time spent outside, gratitude exercises and social time are some of the activities that give you the most benefits in a short amount of time.

Building healthy routines

Addiction recovery can take a lot out of you. Self-care ensures that you’re fueling your whole person so you can fight cravings and achieve sobriety. Adding a regular routine of self-care means that you’re serious about recovery and working to find long-term freedom.

While self-care during addiction treatment can be one of the most important parts of your schedule, it’s no replacement for professional care. Pyramid Walden can provide the recovery services you need to overcome a substance use disorder and cope with mental illness. Your treatment team can help you find new ways of handling life’s stress and restore meaning to your daily life. Take care of yourself and call 301-997-1300 now.