Your Recovery Needs More Self-Care
In many ways, recovery itself is an act of self-care. Whether you’re healing from an eating disorder, a substance use disorder, or another type of addiction or trauma, choosing to recover is choosing to put yourself first in a whole new way. It’s not about selfishness; it’s about acknowledging your inherent worth and choosing to honor it.
Self-care is also what sustains you throughout the recovery journey. When you feel yourself pulled back to old behaviors, self-care is what keeps you on track, moving forward. No longer do you need to turn to the self-destructive coping mechanisms that once defined you.
That’s the power of self-care. Self-care not only helps you feel better in the moment, it’s a tool for lasting mental health. As Mental Health America puts it, “People in recovery find that their physical, spiritual, and emotional health are all connected, and that supporting one supports the others.” So while little self-care practices may seem inconsequential or even frivolous, in reality, they’re part of a holistic strategy for wellness.
Self-care comes in many forms. At its simplest, it’s getting enough sleep, moving your body in a mindful way, nourishing your body, and surrounding yourself with supportive relationships. These are the things everyone needs to be healthy, happy, and whole. But they’re not enough. You can have a 'perfect diet' (of which we all know that it doesn't exist), an ideal exercise regimen, a strict sleep-wake schedule, and a picture-perfect squad and still feel depressed and undeserving. Rather than comprising all of self-care, these practices are the foundation upon which wellness is built.
Self-care also includes practices that reduce your stress, help you cope with the stress you can’t eliminate, and make you feel whole and fulfilled. They include the little things like settling down with a good book, singing aloud to your favorite song, and treating yourself after a tough day.
It also includes the big, hard things like setting boundaries, learning to say no, and removing yourself from a situation when you’ve reached your limit. These are practices that take years of self-reflection and practice to master, which takes us to another important self-care practice: saying no to guilt and shame over not being perfect enough. If recovery teaches you anything, let it be that we’re all flawed humans and making mistakes is no reason to give up.
Hopefully, you’re convinced by now that self-care isn’t just another way to sell spa days. If you need a little more persuading, consider these three self-care practices that don’t cost a dime:
1. Reduce Stress at Home
Everyone deserves a soothing place to come home to. But for many, the home is yet another source of stress. Create a more relaxing, recovery-supportive home through small changes like keeping electronics out of bedrooms, creating a dedicated room for meditation and relaxation, and decluttering and organizing.
2. Spend Time on Hobbies
Adults need hobbies, too. It doesn’t need to be something impressive; your hobby can be mountain climbing, or it can be reading campy sci-fi novels. As long as it’s something you can get lost in and that makes you feel in tune with yourself, it’s a worthwhile hobby.
3. Go Outside
Not everyone is outdoorsy, but everyone benefits from time outdoors. According to research from Stanford University, exposure to natural settings reduces negative ruminations. Other studies have shown correlations with improved moods and reduced symptoms of anxiety.
Living in recovery means making deliberate, recovery-focused choices every day. Self-care, too, is about being intentional about your wellness — about making the choices that uplift you for the long-term, not just soothe you in the moment. It’s easy to see why these two go hand-in-hand, but they’re both harder in practice than they appear. Rather than only turning to self-care when you’re in crisis, make a plan for your self-care so you can strengthen your recovery every day.
Michelle Peterson believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.