By Sandy Baker
Putting Yourself First in Addiction Recovery
Substance use disorder is a complex condition that seems to invade every part of a person’s life. Everything important to you gets pushed to the side as alcohol or drugs become a priority. While things like family relationships, work, school, and your physical and mental health may matter to you, they aren’t as important as being drunk or high.
Taking care of yourself isn’t a priority during active addiction; so when you enter addiction recovery, it can be hard to develop good habits of self-care. But somehow, you have to find a way to put yourself first.
How Self-Care Helps
Social media often makes self-care seem like taking a long bath or purchasing something you want. There’s much more to it than that. The goal of self-care is to focus on doing something that benefits your physical, mental, or emotional health and wellness. That may be prioritizing some alone time each day. It may be as simple as making your bed.
Self-care allows you to demonstrate love and care for yourself. As challenging as this is, learning to have patience with yourself, showing compassion to yourself, and loving who you are is critical to your long-term recovery. Don’t think of self-care as spoiling yourself or being selfish. It’s about being good to yourself so that you have the health and mental calm required to build the life you desire.
Consider a Few Ways to Incorporate Self-Care into Your Life
Self-care isn’t something that happens one time and makes you suddenly feel better. Rather, it’s something to incorporate into your daily life. The consistency of these activities may help you build up a more positive outlook and push down the thoughts of using drugs or alcohol. Here are some ways you can invest in self-care today.
#1: Find ways to connect with other people in recovery
Giving yourself an outlet to talk and open up about what you’re experiencing is critical to long-term recovery. The hard truth is that not many people understand what addiction recovery feels like unless they have gone through it. By investing time in going to meetings, reaching out to group therapy, and connecting online, you can develop more respect for yourself and more resilience.
Depression, anxiety, and other types of challenges that become evident in addiction recovery thrive when you’re alone and left with only your thoughts. Putting yourself in an environment with other people helps you gain some confidence in who you are and what you’ve overcome.
#2: Fuel your body and brain
A big component of recovery is healing, but you need to give your body the nutrition it needs to do so. Self-care is about taking the time to make a healthy meal instead of grabbing fast food. While fries and burgers may sound like a way to treat yourself, it’s actually limiting. You may feel bad later, or your emotional pain may only worsen after you’ve eaten a bad meal.
Choose to eat healthy food. Do it for you. It helps to maintain even blood sugar and maintain a stable mood. It also aids your body in recovering from the damage brought on by long-term substance use.
#3: Work hard to reduce stress
Stress is a part of life, but it only negatively impacts you if you don’t have a way to alleviate it. Stress is also a powerful trigger for wanting to use substances when life feels out of control. You can reduce your stress levels in many ways, but what’s most important is to find something that works for you:
- Exercise burns the stress hormone, alleviating many symptoms of stress.
- Going for a walk in nature may help you boost positive thinking.
- Watching a movie that makes you laugh out loud can help alleviate stress from work or school.
#4: Be mindful
One of the most important parts of self-care is doing what’s best for yourself in the long term. Being mindful about your stress levels, negative emotions, and negative self-talk enables you to “catch” yourself. Recovery isn’t simple. You’re going to have bad moments, but you don’t want to dwell on the physical discomfort or emotional pain for long. Instead, reach out to your therapist to learn how to work through pain in a healthy way.
When you find yourself overwhelmed, stick with the present moment. What’s happening now that needs your attention? Pull yourself away from the worries and anxiety that are holding you back.
#5: Make it your goal to find out who you are
Putting yourself first means exploring new things about yourself. Try new hobbies, reach out to different people, embrace holistic living in a way that matters to you, personally. It’s about finding balance in your life, which may include meeting your responsibilities and learning, growing, and reaching new limits.
One way to do this is to take time to be with yourself. You need time to plan and dream. When you’re sober, you have the unique ability to create new opportunities for yourself. Put in the time to focus on yourself and watch how much you can thrive.
We Are Here to Help
If you need help bolstering your recovery or are seeking recovery for the first time, The Ranch at Dove Tree offers compassionate, non-judgmental treatment. Reach out to us today.