September is both National Recovery Month and Self-Care Awareness Month and for good reason. Self-care and recovery go hand-in-hand. Recovery is about creating a new way of life, whether you’re recovering from addiction or a mental health condition. Self-care, defined as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health”, is essential to a successful recovery. Here’s why.
Why Self-Care is Essential to Recovery
When an addict or alcoholic gets sober, or a person suffering from a mental health condition begins to recover, their bodies are usually in need of a tune-up. Taking care of one’s self takes a backseat to a mental illness or addiction and the side effects of doing drugs or alcohol can be especially damaging to our minds and bodies. Restoring and maintaining your physical, mental, and emotional health is the key to recovery.
Contrary to what some believe, self-care is not selfish. In fact, it’s the opposite. When you are taking care of yourself, you feel good and make others around you feel good, too. You become a positive influence and someone to admire and model.
Tips for Self-Care During Recovery
When we think of self-care, we often envision ourselves lying on a massage chair with cucumbers and facial cream covering our eyes and faces at some luxurious water-side spa. And while that scenario certainly counts as self-care, taking care of yourself is much easier and far less expensive than that. Here are some ways you can practice self-care wherever you are at any day of the week.
Exercise and eat a healthy diet.
Exercise produces serotonin, the feel-good chemical in the brain and it also helps prevent certain diseases and illnesses. You don’t have to become a cross-fit master to get exercise. Walking is the simplest and best way to work out and it can be done on your street, at the gym, or even around the office at work. Invest in a fitness tracking device to keep track of each day’s steps and use it to map out a walking area at work and home.
Food is medicine if you are eating properly. And with your body being in recovery, you need to eat a healthy diet. Consult a dietitian or your medical provider to learn how to begin eating healthy.
Take care of personal hygiene.
Addicts and those in the throes of a mental health illness often neglect personal hygiene. Shower regularly, maintain your hair, brush your teeth and take care of your oral health daily. Make sure you take these steps even on days that you are not leaving the house. Getting into a personal hygiene routine is essential.
Get good sleep.
We need a full eight to ten hours of restful sleep to remain healthy. Optimize your bedroom for sleep, create a bedtime routine, and foster pro-sleep habits during daytime hours. Learn how to improve your sleep with these steps.
Get psychological or psychiatric care.
Dual diagnoses of addiction and a mental health condition are extremely common. Taking care of yourself includes allowing others to diagnose and treat you when you are struggling. If you need a referral to a new mental health professional, visit your primary care provider.
Learn how to treat emotional needs.
Stress and anxiety are often quick routes to relapse. Learn how to cope with your stress, anxiety, and other strong emotions. Don’t run from the feelings, accept them and treat them accordingly. Exercise and deep breathing practices are great ways to help manage stress and anxiety.
Tend to your spiritual needs.
Everyone has a spiritual side even if you are not religious. Meditation, prayer, yoga, and deep breathing exercises are just a few ways to fine-tune your spirit and take care of your mind.
Make time for yourself.
The first step to self-care is to make time for you to be you. That includes making time for exercise and personal hygiene as well as time for fun and relaxation. Do something for yourself that is all about you, such as joining a local club or beginning a new hobby. You’ll fill your free time and find a renewed sense of purpose.
Another important step in self-care is making time for an annual wellness checkup with your primary care provider. Walk-in primary care visits are available daily at EliteCare. Stop by our clinic today for a checkup with one of our caring and experienced providers.