Often, when people think of addiction recovery, they picture the physical and emotional trials of detox. While it’s true that early recovery is very difficult, there isn’t one part of recovery that’s quick or easy. The truth is, once a person becomes addicted to a substance, it’s a lifelong fight to refrain from touching it again, lest a relapse occurs. Exiting a hospital or a residential care facility after the emergency scenarios have passed is only the beginning. As such, the benefits of self-care in addiction recovery are just one of many important tools that patients have at their disposal.
In general, patients tend to struggle with spikes in cravings, especially early on. Urges to use are both physical and psychological, as the patient’s drug-starved brain fights to rationalize use. It’s a very personal battle that often destroys a person’s self-esteem and makes them feel worthless and powerless. Depressive emotions and thoughts are common, which can make using again seem like an arbitrary decision—another sly rationalization of the craving subconscious.
The practice of self-care is a gentle reminder to all of us that we’re fallible and need help. Sometimes, that help can come from within when we set aside some forgiveness and love just for ourselves. It teaches us to be more aware of our state of wellness and seek new and safer ways to achieve happiness and health. Simply put, self-care allows us to extend some of the same love we regularly offer to everyone else toward ourselves.
In addiction recovery, this is extremely crucial, as it’s easy to become wrapped up in the experience of wrestling with erratic emotions and difficult physical symptoms. Self-care offers a gentle wake-up call that we can get to a good place to be and ease the pain through mundane routines and taking a little extra time when we need it most.
The benefits of self-care in addiction recovery touch many different aspects of life. Making massive changes in one’s lifestyle isn’t always necessary, depending on the person. Instead, any and every small effort to better care for yourself is a step in the right direction. Trying a little bit each day will help build a holistic habit that will further overall recovery in subtle ways.
Something as simple as remembering to eat a healthy meal or snack naturally confers necessary energy to the body. Sleeping at regular times and for the recommended periods is also much more important to any healing process than our culture tends to admit. One of the very best ways to practice self-care is to set aside relaxation time. Find a calming hobby, and allow yourself to engage with it at regular times.