The Importance of Prioritizing Self-Care During Recovery

Self-care is a crucial part of the recovery journey. Individuals must create and follow a careful relapse prevention plan to maintain recovery. Just as recovery and treatment differ for each person who needs it, so is relapse prevention. Relapse prevention may include coping techniques, weekly therapy, support group meetings, and aftercare treatment. 

Another crucial component of relapse prevention is self-care. For many people, practicing self-care may feel awkward. Taking care of yourself sometimes feels selfish. However, self-care is vital to preventing situations where you become vulnerable to relapse. Practicing self-care is crucial for maintaining long-term recovery. 

What Is Self-Care? 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says that self-care is "taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical and mental health." As such, self-care includes finding ways to "manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy." 

Self-care is not only crucial to those trying to maintain sobriety. Prioritizing self-care is the best way to optimize your overall well-being. That includes nourishing the mind, body, and soul. 

Why Prioritizing Self-Care Is Important

Research can help you understand the importance of prioritizing self-care. For example, doctor Matthew Glowiak said in a 2020 Southern New Hampshire University article that "engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, improve energy, and more."

Many individuals do not practice self-care not because they do not believe in its benefits; they just don't make time for it. Juggling work, family, school, and other responsibilities makes it challenging to dedicate time to self-care. However, not taking care of yourself can lead to burnout, increased risk of mental illness, and physical stress on the body. It also increases the risk of relapse.

Self-Care and Wellness

There is a significant connection between self-care and wellness. Wellness is a broad concept, but it can be understood as having every aspect of your life be whole and healthy. 

SAMHSA indicates eight dimensions of wellness to focus on when creating a healthier life. These are: 

  • Emotional 
  • Spiritual 
  • Intellectual 
  • Physical 
  • Environmental 
  • Financial 
  • Occupational 
  • Social 

Living a life of wellness means creating a balance between these eight dimensions to promote health. Practicing self-care can help you do that. 

Wellness and Recovery 

When you look at it, achieving recovery is a journey of wellness. During treatment, you may learn tips and tricks to improve your overall health. We can not focus on mental health without accounting for well-being in other areas.

The NIMH claims that mental health is "more than the absence of mental illness." It includes "emotional, psychological, and social well-being" and is "essential to your overall health and quality of life." During treatment, try out several self-care practices and learn what you enjoy. However, you first must learn to carve out time to prioritize self-care once you integrate back into life post-treatment. 

Practicing Mindfulness

To maintain wellness, you must take care of yourself, which you can do by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness-based practices help individuals stay focused and centered on maintaining recovery. 

You can begin practicing mindfulness today by: 

  • Setting goals and intentions for yourself every day 
  • Checking in with yourself to gauge how your mind and body are feeling 
  • Practicing physical mindfulness by trying breathwork, yoga, or other methods of exercise 
  • Taking frequent breaks 
  • Trying different forms of mediation 
  • Eating mindfully 

You may experiment with these mindfulness tips and find none are a good fit for you. That is okay. There is no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. Self-care and mindfulness are not prescriptive but suggestive. Try out different methods and find ones that work well for you.

How to Start Prioritizing Self-Care Today 

If you are interested, consider creating a personalized self-care plan while still in treatment. That way, you can execute and adjust the plan before post-treatment life. In addition to creating a self-care plan, there are many ways to implement self-care practices into your daily routine today. 

Some self-care practices include: 

  • Exercise regularly, even if it is just for 30 minutes a day. You do not have to do intense exercise. Simply going for a daily walk can boost your mood and improve your physical and mental health. 
  • Proper nutrition and hydration are self-care. The body needs healthy nutrients to function. Therefore, prioritizing nutrition and drinking plenty of water is a great way to improve overall well-being. 
  • Get plenty of quality sleep. Create a schedule and bedtime routine and stick to it. 
  • Set goals for yourself. People often set goals for themselves while they are still in treatment. These goals do not need to be grandiose. Make a list of what you must do today and what can wait until tomorrow. Doing this helps you make time for daily self-care. 
  • Many people also benefit from practicing gratitude. Reminding yourself of what you are grateful for every day, like your recovery, is an excellent way to remember what you are working toward. 

Treatment can be a time to focus on self-care and achieving wellness. For more, reach out to NorthStar Transitions today. 

Are you in recovery but struggling to maintain sobriety? Recovery looks different for everyone, but self-care is a crucial component. In addition to practicing relapse prevention tips and attending therapy or support groups, focus on prioritizing self-care. The ways in which you can practice self-care are endless. Treatment is a great time to focus on learning new self-care techniques, but recovery is the time to learn how to carve out time for self-care every day. If you are concerned about your recovery and are struggling to practice self-care, reach out to a friend, mental health professional, or support network member. Call NorthStar Transitions at (303) 558-6400 today to seek treatment.

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