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If the term “self-care” conjures images of mani-pedis and large specialty coffees, you’re not alone. However, self-care actually refers to taking care of both your physical and mental health on a daily basis. In doing so, you’re ensuring that you’re cultivating a positive headspace and setting yourself up for success. This becomes especially important during recovery when you’re at your most vulnerable. Likewise, self-care can become a key tool for relapse prevention.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care can refer to a variety of practices and activities, but the most important aspect of self-care is that it positively affects your physical and/or mental state. Because self-care is so generalized, it can be personalized to fit whatever best suits your physical and mental needs. Your self-care routine may change over time as your needs change because of this. 

Physical Self-Care

When thinking about self-care, many people jump straight to practices that help alleviate anxiety or stress. However, physical self-care is just as essential to a successful recovery as mental self-care. Physical self-care refers specifically to the nourishment and upkeep of your body. It ensures that your body is working at its fullest potential to serve your needs throughout the day. 

There are a variety of activities that qualify as physical self-care, and the ideal routine would implement several of them. However, the cornerstones of physical self-care include:

  • Consuming a healthy diet
  • Engaging in exercise regularly
  • Utilizing an optimized sleep schedule

These three components are the primary facilitators for cultivating a healthy body. A healthy diet ensures that your body is receiving all the proper nutrients necessary to perform everyday functions and support immune response. Regular exercise can reduce stress, burn calories, and even increase dopamine levels. Finally, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule will ensure that your body is getting the rest it needs to carry out daily functions and support your mind.

Some other forms of physical self-care may include:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Drinking water throughout the day
  • Stretching frequently
  • Doing yoga
  • Taking deep breaths
  • Checking in regularly with your doctor

Mental Self-Care

The health of the body and the mind are intertwined; your physical health will impact your mental health and vice versa. For example, not properly dealing with stress or anxiety may keep you up at night, resulting in your body not getting the sleep it needs. Due to this, it’s just as important to maintain a healthy state of mind as it is to maintain a healthy body. The goal of mental self-care is to do things that positively affect your mental health. Sometimes this can overlap with physical forms of self-care, such as exercising, which helps maintain your body while releasing dopamine and creating a sense of accomplishment. 

There are many ways that you can choose to practice mental self-care. This form of self-care is typically more individualized because your mind may react more positively to certain activities than others. When choosing forms of mental self-care to incorporate into your life, the main thing to consider is what behaviors will improve your mental state without worsening your physical state. For example, playing with your cat may be a valuable form of self-care, but scarfing down four cheeseburgers would not be.

Here are some other forms of mental self-care you may want to consider:

  • Doing a puzzle
  • Painting a canvas
  • Journaling
  • Meditating
  • Taking a relaxing bath
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Listening to music
  • Walking in a park

Implementing Self-Care Into Your Daily Routine

Finding a routine that works for you is an important aspect of healthy living in general. However, it’s especially pertinent in the recovery process. Finding ways to incorporate self-care habits into your daily routine could be essential to your success in recovery. 

The first step in implementing self-care into your routine is to set attainable goals for yourself. What do you wish to accomplish through practicing self-care? Answering this question will grant you clarity in your actions and ensure that you’re acting intentionally. Once you’ve solidified these goals, you can then choose which types of self-care to implement. These choices should be motivated by the goals previously set. For example, if your goal is to become more reflective and intentional in your recovery, then journaling may prove to be a helpful form of mental self-care for you. 

Once you’ve set these overall goals and determined which practices will best suit them, your next step is to find a way to incorporate them into your daily routine. The best way to do this is to break your overall goal into smaller SMART goals. SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This ensures that you’re able to fully realize your goals and that you don’t feel disappointed if you’re unable to reach unattainable goals. 

For example, if your goal is to journal for 20 minutes each night before bed, you may begin to feel burnt out after your first week, which would discourage you from journaling altogether. Instead, start with journaling for five minutes for the first three nights. Then, you may consider adding time, such as journaling for 10 minutes each night. Continue to shift these goalposts until you reach your goal of 20 minutes a night. This method will help you successfully attain your goals with little risk of fatigue. You’ll also notice that the overall goal and the mini-goals are all SMART goals. This ensures consistency and, ultimately, success.

Self-Care Is for You

One of the most important things to remember is that self-care is for you, not anyone else. It is for cultivating both your mind and body. Self-care should be a relaxing, positive experience that adds to your day. If you find that self-care has become overwhelming, re-evaluate your goals and find alternative methods.

Self-care may sometimes seem self-indulgent, but it’s a vital part of life and especially important in addiction recovery. Implementing practices that help cultivate both your body and your mind into your daily routine is essential in ensuring the success of your recovery. Some people may feel overwhelmed when adding new things to their routine; however, self-care should be an enjoyable experience that only improves your state of being. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we highly value the importance of self-care in the recovery process. We feel that self-care is an essential part of recovery that should be encouraged. For more information about how West Coast Recovery Centers emphasizes self-care in treatment, call our professionals today at (760) 492-6509.