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There’s never a time that self-care isn’t important. The practice of maintaining your emotional and physical wellbeing should be a priority at every stage in your life. That being said, self-care is especially critical during the recovery period, and in this article we’ll explain why and how to put self-care at the top of your to-do list.

What is self-care?

In order to practice good self-care during addiction recovery, you first need to know what self-care is. According to the American Psychological Association, self-care is the art of providing sufficient attention to our bodies and minds. 

In our modern age we have seemingly endless demands on our time, which can put undue stress on our wellness, and result in drastic negative effects. Anxiety, depression, fatigue, social withdrawal and sleep problems are all results of chronic stress, according to Mayo Clinic, and practicing self-care can both reduce the onset of stress and mitigate the negative side effects of it.

There are a wide range of activities that can be categorized as self-care – cooking, attending spiritual services, meditating or praying, exercising, journaling, spending time in nature, swimming, dancing, reading, stretching, gardening – the list goes on. Any healthy activity that you feel better after than you did before qualifies as self-care and can help you break free from drugs or alcohol.

Why should I practice self-care during addiction recovery?

There are clear reasons that self-care can help a person in daily life, but why does self-care help in getting sober specifically? Here are the top ways self-care during addiction recovery can give you the boost you need.

1. Reduces triggers

While each person has unique triggers to use, a lot of them are caused by stress. When you’re practicing healthy habits for your body and soul you foster an inner peace that you can return to when difficulties pop up. The science backs it up, too. Practicing self-care can decrease stress levels and improve overall quality of life, states a study published in BMC Medical Education

2. Adds coping skills to your toolbox

At first your self-care practices will start off on a scheduled, predetermined basis. As your activities become habits, they’ll be easier to modify and adapt to any situation. When cravings do pop up, you’ll be able to pull a self-care tool out of your back pocket and put it into action. Angry? Go for a run. Lonely? Try journaling. Your skills will work as preventative measures as well as for coping in the moment.

3. Helps you be comfortable in your own body

When you feel good in your body you won’t find as many temptations to use substances. Insecurities, physical pain, guilt and shame can all be reasons to turn to drugs or alcohol, and figuring out how to address the root of those feelings through self-care can be a game-changer in your recovery.

How do I prioritize self-care?

Making self-care a priority is a commitment only you can make. Friends, coworkers, even your therapist can’t force it on you. It’s not easy to add self-care to a busy schedule, but when it feels impossible to squeeze in, is probably when you need it the most. When you’re done making excuses or ready to add self-care to your schedule permanently, here are some tips to make the time to decompress.

Make it a habit: one of the best ways to prioritize self-care is to add it into your daily routine and make the effort to do it every day. When you regularly partake in a healthy activity, you’ll not only get used to the schedule adjustment, you’ll notice the benefits and feel more motivated to practice self-care frequently.

Don’t add unnecessary spending to your routine: While many people feel that splurging can be a form of self-care, the practice isn’t going to be sustainable if it’s not in the budget. Try to seek out things that are good for you without breaking the bank and adding to financial stress.

Add friends to the mix: spending time with others can boost your mood and make it more likely that you’ll return to the same healthy task. Go for a walk with a friend, join a workout class with a coworker or take a cooking class with your family. Whatever you do, adding social time to your self-care routine is just plain fun.

Reaching out when self-care alone isn’t enough

While self-care can be tremendously helpful in your addiction recovery, it might not be enough to get clean for good. In fact, self-care is best when it is used as an adjunct treatment, on top of professional rehab programs. Reach out to an addiction treatment center to get the services you need and help adding self-care to your regular routine.

If you’re ready to let your addiction be a thing of the past, Real Recovery Sober Living can help. Real Recovery offers residential programs with homes for both men and women. Take the first step and call 855-363-7325 today.