Five Types of Self Care for Recovery

Maintaining your recovery following treatment involves utilizing your various coping methods, staying engaged in the recovery community, and practicing self-care. Using coping strategies and being proactive in the recovery community may come easier, as treatment provides you with resources for each. While self-care is taught in treatment, everyone responds to its various forms in different ways. Understanding the five types of self-care can help you boost your recovery by finding which form works best for you. 

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care involves taking care of your physical body. Many people often forget to look after their body because they may associate it with exercising or going to the doctor, which are not exactly enjoyable activities at first glance. This aspect of self-care is also overlooked, as many believe it is taken care of as long as you eat healthy and exercise. However, there are many types of physical self-care that look after your body and promote wellness. Looking after your physical body is easily one of the most important types of self-care - it takes care of the base for your mental and emotional health as well. 

Examples of physical self-care include:

  • Drinking enough water
  • Eating nutritious foods
  • Exercising or doing yoga
  • Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours)
  • Taking your medications
  • Not pushing your body past its limits

Mental Self-Care

Mental self-care looks after your mental health and helps you cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Taking care of this aspect of yourself allows your mind to slow down, relax, and take a break, which helps fight against stress and create a more positive outlook on your recovery and future. It should be noted that it can take time to see the results of mental self-care, as they are not always obvious. However, you should notice your mental health improvements over time, which in turn helps your recovery.

Examples of mental self-care include:

  • Setting boundaries
  • Doing puzzles
  • Meditating
  • Self-reflecting
  • Reading or listening to a book
  • Keeping a journal

Emotional Self-Care

Mental and emotional self-care are often confused, but they are quite different. Mental self-care looks after your brain and mental health. Emotional self-care looks after your feelings. While struggling with addiction, you most likely did not know how to properly cope with negative emotions, which is why drugs and alcohol were used to escape them. In recovery, it is crucial you practice the coping methods learned in treatment to maintain your sobriety when negative emotions hit. Emotional self-care can help with this as it aids in being able to deal with negative emotions, so you are not overwhelmed.

Examples of emotional self-care include:

  • Opening up to a trusted friend
  • Cutting ties with toxic people in your life
  • Going to therapy
  • Practicing forgiveness
  • Showing kindness to yourself and others

Spiritual Self-Care

Recovery is not only about healing your mind and body but your spirit as well. Practicing spiritual self-care can help you reconnect with yourself. It also helps to care for and replenish your soul to make sure this aspect is healthy. If you struggle to think of humans as having a soul, that’s okay. You can approach spiritual self-care as caring for your inner self on a deeper level. 

You don’t have to be religious to practice this type of self-care; you just need to possess a sense of spirituality to release control to. It is crucial to nurture this aspect of your recovery even after treatment. It can boost your overall recovery and establish a sense of connection to something greater than yourself. 

Examples of spiritual self-care include:

  • Making a list of your values
  • Reflecting on the important things in life
  • Practicing positive affirmations
  • Spending time alone
  • Being in nature
  • Reading about other spiritualities to open your mind

Social Self-Care

It can be easy to overlook social self-care, as you may think it doesn’t count as “self-care” because it involves other people. However, humans need social connections to lead a healthy lifestyle. During treatment, you may have learned the dangers of isolation, as it can potentially trigger a relapse. Even if you are an introvert, you need to spend some time with other individuals to keep your needs met. Practicing social self-care does not mean you need to hang out with other people well past your limit; it just means tailoring this aspect of your life to fulfill the need for social relationships and connections.

Examples of social self-care include:

  • Writing a letter to a loved one
  • Going to lunch with a friend
  • Hosting a night with friends
  • Taking part in a book club
  • Spending time with your pet
  • Calling a relative you haven’t spoken to in awhile


Self-care is crucial in ongoing recovery, as it reduces your risk of relapse and gives you a more positive outlook on life as a whole. There are five types of self-care to take part in that will keep you on the right track. Knowing what each of these is and how to look after them will help you plan to engage with them. If you are interested in learning more about life after treatment, contact Northstar Transitions. We have an extensive alumni program and offer information on maintaining your recovery for the long haul. We are avid supporters of self-care and can teach you or your loved one how to manage these areas for boosted recovery properly. Northstar empowers people to navigate real-life recovery. Remember, recovery doesn’t end once you leave treatment. It is a battle you will need to continually put effort into to maintain. Call Northstar today at (303) 558-6400 to learn more.

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