Up until this point, you have likely faced a number of challenges with confronting your addiction. Detox and withdrawal were probably uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Managing the cravings and temptations may have felt impossible. Pinpointing the driving force of your desire to use substances and uprooting it probably took a lot of deep work and honest self-reflection.
The structure and routine of treatment may have helped you become more disciplined and focused. Days packed with activities and therapy helped you work through your problems and connect with others. Now that you have left or are leaving residential treatment, you might find yourself worried about maintaining this transformation of self-growth. You will likely encounter more obstacles, but with a firm understanding of self-care and how you can practice it, you will become continuously better at meeting your recovery goals.
What Does Self-Care Mean?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
This definition implies a level of autonomy or independence, meaning that individuals, families, and communities have the capacity (in terms of knowledge, resources, and physical ability) to manage their well-being. Autonomy further suggests a level of personal responsibility that can be very empowering.
This concept parallels that of individual and family therapy in addiction treatment. In individual therapy, clients learn about their condition and are provided with resources that empower them to take charge. In family therapy, clinicians work with family members of the client to provide information on the disease, address unhealthy family dynamics, and offer suggestions to provide support for their loved ones.
The Body, Mind, and Spirit Connection
The practice of self-care also involves doing things that fulfill your physical, mental, and spiritual needs. A holistic view of a human experience that is inseparable from the body, mind, or spirit is common in Eastern religions and rituals. One relatable example of this connection is the physical consequences of prolonged stress on the body and mind.
These three components are deeply connected and are increasingly being recognized in the treatment of addiction and mental health. For instance, spirituality is an underlying theme of programs like The Twelve Steps, and has been shown to improve recovery outcomes.
How You Can Practice Self-Care
In order to start better caring for yourself, you need to be aware of what you actually need and when they are needed. Moreover, because you have unique needs, the details of a self-care practice may look different for you compared to another individual. However, there are a number of things you can do to start your self-care journey.
To become more self-aware of what your needs are, carve out time in your day to reflect on how you feel in terms of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Writing these observations down can help you process and organize your thoughts and allow yourself to identify patterns about your behavior.
If you are not a writer, a number of mind-body activities that stem from ancient traditions may help you manage physical and mental ailments to get in touch with your inner self. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests the following:
- Acupuncture: To help treat chronic low-back, neck, and knee pain, in addition to reducing the frequency of tension headaches and preventing migraines.
- Meditation: To help reduce blood pressure, ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve insomnia.
- Tai chi: To help improve balance and stability, reduce back and knee pain, and improve quality of life in people with chronic illnesses.
- Yoga: To promote general physical and mental wellness by relieving stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and sleep problems; reduce low-back and neck pain; and support healthy habits like not smoking.
Clinical trials and meta-analyses are starting to show increasing evidence for the efficacy of mind-body activities like these for treating a range of conditions.
Self-Care Is Whatever You Want It to Be
The most important takeaway is that self-care is not a one-shoe-fits-all situation. It does not have to involve physical or mental exercises. Self-care can simply mean setting clear boundaries with family, friends, and other people you interact with. It can also include turning off your phone notifications. Self-care can mean eating a slice of cake because you want to, sleeping in because you really needed it, or reaching out to your sponsor or therapist just one more time this week because there is something you need to get off your chest.
At the end of the day, self-care is whatever you want it to be. Taking care of yourself means taking care of your needs. Everyone is different. Cultivating a sense of self-awareness will allow your intuition to guide you in making decisions that will enhance your well-being and lead to a fruitful recovery.
Self-care is an important aspect of recovery after leaving residential treatment. There are many ways a person can practice self-care, but the first step involves being highly attuned to what it is they need and when they need it. By utilizing tools and lessons learned throughout treatment, individuals can maintain their well-being by choosing to participate in practices that fulfill their physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Oceanfront Recovery is a fully licensed residential treatment center located in Laguna Beach. Our clinicians are Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) that have decades of collective experience working with clients struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental conditions. Our main focus is getting clients through the first stage of addiction treatment, detox, and residential treatment. We work with our strategic partners on providing continuing care planning after primary treatment. If you are struggling to find your way after receiving treatment with us, please give us a call at (877) 279-1777.