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Understanding Self-Care as Essential to SUD Recovery

Understanding Self-Care as Essential to SUD Recovery

Addiction impacts various areas of your life, leading to serious self-neglect. Substance abuse causes poor diet and lack of physical activity,  affecting mental and psychological health. 

Due to the self-neglect that comes with substance abuse, you may find yourself engaging in self-destructive behaviors. During recovery, you will learn the importance of why self-care is essential for long-term sobriety.

What Is Self-Care? 

Self-care is understood as the conscious act of taking responsibility for oneself through behaviors that encourage overall healthy well-being. Self-care can manifest, whether spiritually, mentally, physically, or emotionally.  It can look like creating daily routines and incorporating habits such as exercise or journaling that help keep you grounded. 

Why Is It Important To SUD Recovery?

Substance abuse dramatically affects a person by negatively impacting different areas of life. Addiction affects your mood, appetite, physical and emotional well-being, personal relationships, finances, and many other areas of life. Maintaining long-term sobriety will require various lifestyle changes. The decision to actively commit to the choices that help take care of your mental, physical and emotional health is vital to overcoming addiction.

Mental Self-Care

How you think has a significant impact on your overall well-being—mental self-care consist of doing things that keep your mind clear from negative and self-loathing thoughts. The following actions will help you stay mentally healthy if you use them during stressful periods of your life. 

  • Practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness means creating a space that helps you stay connected and conscious of the present moment. This is an essential part of recovery because you can easily find yourself thinking about the past and begin to feel guilt, shame, and sadness over the lifestyle you used to live. You can start practicing mindfulness in small ways like limiting your screen time each day. The most important thing to remember is to stay healthily connected with your day. Mindfulness is a practice, so it will take time to feel like second nature to you.
  • Have alone time. Spending time by yourself is an important form of mental self-care because it allows you to recharge your energy. Having time set aside to be alone allows you to take a break from the social responsibilities that may overwhelm you throughout the day. This gives you the chance to refresh your mind and thoughts while establishing a positive bond with yourself. 
  • Set boundaries. Substance abuse causes many individuals to damage relationships with their friends and loved ones. A part of addiction recovery will be learning how to repair and create new healthy relationships. Healthy relationships involve setting clear boundaries, which are not present while using substances. Boundaries teach everyone involved within your circle how to treat you through a set of rules. An example of setting boundaries for yourself can be not wanting anyone to bring drugs or alcohol around you at any given time.

Physical Self-Care

Substance abuse is a complex and aggressive disorder because it causes many forms of self-neglect such as lack of oral and physical hygiene, undereating, and reduced sleep. Your body and mind are connected, so it is essential to take care of both aspects for your overall well-being. Physical self-care involves incorporating activities into your day that keep your body healthy and active.

  • Physical Activity. Take some time out of the day to get your body moving. Physical exercise keeps your body in shape and even improves your emotional state. When you work out, your body releases endorphins (brain chemicals) that help improve mood, sleep, appetite and lessen depression. 
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep plays a vital role in giving your body the rest it needs to recuperate from the day. Lack of sleep impacts many areas of your health, such as slower cognitive functioning, irregular heartbeat, and irritability.  Establish a set time at night that you decide to wind down and get sleep.
  • Personal hygiene. One of the most prominent aspects of addiction is the lack of personal hygiene. Many individuals neglect daily habits that take care of their hygiene.  In recovery, you may still find it difficult to form an effective personal hygiene routine. Work with your therapist and staff to get into the habit of creating a hygiene routine that works for you.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care is just as necessary as other forms of self-care. Spirituality is different for everyone and doesn’t have to be associated with any specific religion. Spiritual self-care is anything that allows you to connect with yourself on a deeper level. It is necessary to stay in tune with yourself instead of masking your feelings. Here are a few ways to incorporate spiritual self-care into your life.

Holistic Treatment 

One form of treatment that has shown to be beneficial for some people is holistic treatment approaches. In addition to counseling and medication, facilities will also offer holistic wellness services that include:

Connect with Nature 

Going out and getting a breath of fresh air allows you to not only find mental clarity but allows you to connect with your natural surroundings. Putting down your phone and going out to get some sun or go for a walk is an all-encompassing approach to your self-care journey, as this action honors each modality of respecting who you are and where you want to be. 

Gain Insight from Better Sources

Being decisive about what you consume is a form of self-preservation as it impacts how you perceive yourself and the world around you. Reading books and articles or listening to podcasts that expand your mind and inspire different ways to connect with who you are, feeds you positive information you can use every day to establish symbiotic relationships at school, with friends, and within your home.

One of the key components to having a successful recovery is knowing how to take care of yourself, especially during stressful times in your life. Addiction causes self-neglect which can worsen symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and physical health. At Clearfork Academy, our goal is to give your teen struggling with addiction the tools to live a healthy and drug-free lifestyle. We understand the hardships teenagers may face and how difficult it can be for them to express their pain, causing them to turn to unhealthy coping styles. Through our residential and intensive outpatient programs, we are able to help your teen learn the importance of self-care and help them identify techniques they can use when life becomes stressful. If you are in need of a safe and therapeutic facility that will help your teen recover from addiction and other co-occurring disorders, reach out to Clearfork Academy today (844) 387-8780.

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Prioritizing Self-Care: The Multi-Angle Approach

man meditating

When mental health distress, such as addiction, becomes a factor in your life, your symptoms may quickly lead to self-neglect and self-destruction. Once you enter recovery, self-care becomes an essential factor in sustaining sobriety and having long-term recovery success. 

Successful recovery helps you approach adversity from healthier perspectives while teaching you to prioritize your self-worth. There are many routes to consider when discussing self-care. Therefore, it is essential to approach the topic from various perspectives. 

Types of Self-Care

Generally, there are four main categories of self-care. These include emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual health. Every type of health overlaps with another, so it is important to understand how to approach self-care from different angles. 

#1. Emotional health addresses your emotional needs. It is important that you allow yourself to feel genuine emotions fully to process and work through them. Caring for your body also does wonders for your emotional health. Allow yourself to lean into your support systems, especially during times of heightened emotions. Be gentle with yourself and others and acknowledge that everyone is doing the best that they can. Recognizing and expressing your feelings as they surface is one of the best things you can do for your emotional health. Common emotions that you might experience throughout your day might include sadness, fear, anger, overwhelm, and joy. Notice when these emotions surface and why.

#2. Physical health involves how you fuel your body, how much sleep you get at night, and how often you engage in physical activity. Caring for your physical health means eating a balanced and nutritious diet while staying hydrated. Hydration alone does wonders for your physical and mental wellness, as it draws out toxins from your body. While it is important to stay active, physical health also involves knowing and honoring when your body needs rest.

#3. Psychological health addresses how you relate to your sense of self, such as your ability to reduce stress or declutter your mind. Mental health is one of the more challenging categories to balance, especially because most live busy lives. To enhance your overall wellbeing and to cope with inevitable stress, it is important that you identify and utilize healthy coping mechanisms and give yourself time to relax. Without dedicating time to your mental health, you are more likely to experience prolonged stress which contributes to various chronic mental conditions.

#4. Spiritual health involves finding a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in our lives through connection with ourselves and others. For some, spiritual health might mean going to church or praying. For others, spiritual health might involve meditation or a walk in nature. Spiritual self-care does not have to be religious, although it may be for many. To engage in spiritual self-care, you may want to reflect on who you are now vs. who you would like to be. Address your strengths and weaknesses and give yourself an outline of the person you would like to become. 

How To Prioritize Self-Care

Now that you understand the different ways to address self-care, you can dedicate time and effort to contribute to your personal self-care needs. If you feel one specific area of health is feeling less developed than the others, start by setting aside intentional time to work on that area of health. For example, if you feel like you lack self-care in spiritual health, you may want to practice mindfulness techniques to connect you to your higher self. If you lack physical energy, you might want to try a new form of exercise to increase your energy and endurance. Over time, you will find that you can contribute different intensities of self-care to your health needs and recognize deficiencies more quickly. 

Prioritizing self-care means prioritizing your personal and individual needs. At certain ages, you might feel compelled to compare yourselves to your friends or siblings, thinking that certain needs may label us as weak. It is essential to note that we all have needs, and we must do what we need to do to address them and work through them. 

Here are some questions to consider when evaluating your self-care needs:

  • What helps me when I feel like I need to cry? (emotional)
  • What are some healthy foods that give me good feelings of energy? (physical)
  • How long do I need to sleep to feel fully rested? (physical)
  • Who can I lean on for support when I can’t seem to think straight? (mental/emotional)
  • What was my last argument about, and how can I handle a similar situation better in the future? (spiritual/mental)

Self-care is one of the most important elements when establishing long-term recovery success and fostering overall wellbeing. When it comes to addressing health needs, it is essential to view self-care from multiple perspectives. The four common categories of health include emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual. Each health category will have specific needs that differ from person to person, as health needs concern personal life experiences. When learning how to prioritize self-care and health needs, it is important that you recognize what categories of health need more attention in your own life so that you can respond effectively. Clearfork Academy is a Christ-centered community that offers a unique substance use rehab experience for teenage boys. We believe that it is necessary to address self-care from multiple perspectives to establish long-term sobriety and recovery. To find out more about our treatment experience and programs, give us a call today at (866) 650-5212