Self-care in recovery refers to activities that can help you improve your mental and physical health. Self-care activities are completed with the sole intention of doing something for yourself. For many in recovery from addictive behaviors, you may not know the value of scheduling activities that are meant to decrease your anxiety or just do things to make you feel good.

While you may be using your addictive behaviors as a way of treating yourself, self-care activities do not take away from your recovery. While you might engage in addictive behaviors thinking that they will help you feel good, addictions have detrimental short-term and long-term effects on you.

Addictive behaviors, like sexual addiction or drug and alcohol addictions, may have been a negative coping skill that you used to manage stress or relieve feelings of depression. However, your addictions may have left you feeling guilty or shameful afterward. They also may have been negatively impacting your physical well-being.

Self-care activities are activities that are rewarding and meaningful to you. Unlike addictive behaviors, self-care activities are completed to leave you feeling positive and healthy afterward. Self-care involves doing things that will not negatively impact your mental and physical health.

You may have never learned to do healthy activities for the sole benefit of helping yourself. Self-care activities can range from simple acts of maintaining your hygiene to learning new activities. The purpose of self-care is to act with intention and to be aware that you are completing a task or engaging in activity to do something just for your happiness.

When thinking of self-care activities keep the following three tips in mind:

  1. Plan the Activity: You may resort to negative coping skills when you do not plan an activity for your health and well-being. You might fall back to bad habits when you have not scheduled time for yourself. Put the activity on a calendar or set a reminder on your phone.
  2. Do Something You Enjoy: You may be tempted to try something new that is challenging or something you feel others would want you to do. Although some of your goals may be in line with self-activities, self-care is primarily meant for your enjoyment. You do not need to set a goal or an expectation. The point is to do something that just makes you feel good.
  3. Keep It Simple: You do not need to invest a huge amount of time in your self-care activities. To give an idea of how much time you can spend, some recovery treatment programs encourage you to engage in self-care activities for at least five hours per week; this is less than one hour per day. Remember that you are the only person responsible for self-care. Just giving yourself a little bit of time each day can be a huge improvement in your overall wellness!

Common Self-Care Activities

Here is a list of examples of self-care to give you an idea of where to start. This list is by no means comprehensive. However, this can help you brainstorm to discover your activities:

  • Spending time outdoors
  • Spending time with a pet
  • Journaling
  • Reading a book or magazine
  • Yoga
  • Taking a short walk
  • Listening to music
  • Drawing
  • Completing hygiene tasks, like combing your hair or dressing well
  • Making your bed
  • Cooking a healthy meal for yourself
  • Gardening
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Meditation
  • Taking a nap
  • Taking a bath
  • Exercise
  • Adult coloring books
  • Cleaning your personal space

Forming Healthy Self-Care Habits in Recovery

The sole purpose of self-care is to take time for yourself and engage in a healthy activity. You may have formed the habit of engaging in negative and unhealthy activities to feel good in the past. Now is the time to replace those habits. Thinking of scheduling time for yourself as a way of being your own self-care coach.

You are telling yourself that you deserve to do something fun that makes you happy. You may feel like self-care is selfish or you may feel guilty taking time out of your day for your own benefit, but it is okay to take a break for yourself.

By scheduling this time for yourself, you are reinforcing the notion that you are important and deserve recovery. You are valuing yourself and caring for yourself in a way that only you can do. Remember that you are the best expert on what you need to do to be happy and healthy.

You alone know what best makes you feel good. You may have never learned the value of setting aside a few minutes to an hour each day just to do something you love. Permit yourself to engage in a self-care activity by starting today.

You are the best advocate for yourself. If you do not speak up for yourself, who else will? You may not have learned how to care for yourself. You may feel burdened by the needs of others or bogged down by the requirements of each day. Sometimes you might feel like you have no control at all over what you do every day. By scheduling a self-care activity for just a short amount of time each day, you can learn to value yourself and improve your mental health and well-being. Take time to engage in a healthy activity that makes you happy! At Camelback Recovery we encourage our participants to engage in self-care activities for at least five hours each week. Call us to begin your path to health and wellness today at (602) 466-9880.