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Many mental health advocates will commonly emphasize the importance of engaging in self-care. While self-care is crucial for mental wellness and addiction recovery, social connection also plays an important role in one’s overall well-being. For some people, self-care may mean going out with friends or having a date night with a loved one. For others, self-care is staying in and enjoying personal time. Here we will address the importance of balancing personal self-care and experiencing social connection with others. 

What Does Self-Care Entail?

Self-care is engaging in activities that bring an individual joy as well as mental or physical wellness. Proper and consistent self-care is crucial for development, especially when it comes to addiction recovery. Self-care might involve creating healthy habits, like staying hydrated throughout the day or engaging in exercise. Other ways might include participating in leisure activities, such as watching your favorite show or spending free time with friends. Self-care should remain a priority, as it is essential to develop self-awareness and self-appreciation. Without self-care, individuals are more likely to seek out and rely upon approval from others instead of doing what is best for their own life journey. 

Social connection consists of the relationships a person has as well as the experiences they have of meeting and making connections with others. Social connection is essential for your well-being as it brings about a sense of belonging and purpose. Friendship allows us to experience healthy conflict, promotes greater self-esteem and empathy, and increases trust and cooperation with others. When it comes to addiction recovery, social connection helps us to understand that we are not alone. 

Issues With High Self-Care and Low Social Connection

While high self-care is likely to be more positive than negative, having low social connection along with it may come with negative consequences. It is great to find happiness and joy with your own company, but having a connection with others is a key component in life’s journey. Lack of companionship or lack of quality relationships may cause a person to feel isolated and lonely. Eventually, they may develop a great sense of inferiority or superiority compared to others as a defense mechanism, which directly influences their willingness to learn and grow. With this mindset, it’s more difficult to express empathy and compassion. A person with high self-care but low social connection may also neglect to nurture their own existing connections, resulting in damaged or broken relationships. 

Issues With Low Self-Care and High Social Connection

Likewise, low self-care and high social connection also pose a number of consequences. A person experiencing this lack of balance may find themself seeking constant approval from others. This situation often causes low self-esteem, resulting in an individual being overly critical about themselves or believing they are unworthy. Neglecting personal care also influences a person’s ability to know and befriend themself. Lack of self-care correlates with an inability to maintain a healthy lifestyle and increases vulnerability to peer pressure and other negative habits. When it comes to addiction recovery, self-care is essential in fostering long-term success with sobriety. You need to first be better for yourself before you attempt to be better for others. 

Addressing the Balance

It can be challenging to find the balance between self-care and social connection. If you are a person that finds self-care in social activities, such as going out with friends, you are at an advantage with understanding this balance. If you are an introvert that struggles with self-acceptance, you are likely to experience greater challenges with finding a balance. 

To start, address your personal engagement with self-care. Compile a list of things that you do, or that you would like to do, that would foster positive self-care. Some examples may include: 

  • Reading a self-care book
  • Finding time to meditate during busy days
  • Increasing your daily water intake
  • Eating three meals a day
  • Immersing yourself in nature
  • Finding enjoyable ways to exercise
  • Starting a new hobby
  • Starting a new television show
  • Taking a bath
  • Setting aside time once a week for mood reflection

After reflecting on self-care, consider what ways you can intentionally engage in social connection. If you struggle with substance use cravings, try to consider what environments may trigger negative emotions and choose healthier environments. Recognizing these environments and being strong enough to choose other ones is an act of self-care. It may help to set aside weekly activities to help you stay engaged in your relationships. Some examples of social connection may include:

  • Locating and attending weekly community support groups
  • Designating time once a week to speak with a loved one
  • Finding a local sports team to play for fun
  • Engaging in online support groups
  • Planning a weekly or monthly date night with your significant other
  • Volunteering
  • Reaching out to old contacts
  • Taking a walk in a local park

For some, self-care and social connection are one and the same. For many people, this is not the case. While self-care is essential in fostering physical and mental well-being, social connection helps us understand our place in the world. Recognize the balance between your personal self-care and willingness to engage in social connection and address the discrepancies. Even if you are an introvert struggling with both factors, there are baby steps you can take to promote a greater balance of self-care and social connection for your future self. West Coast Recovery Centers understands that life comes with inevitable mental health struggles. We offer a variety of traditional and holistic treatment options to help you with your mental health and addiction challenges. We promote self-care and connectedness throughout our programs and can help you address your personal balance between them. For more information about the services we offer, call us today at (760) 492-6509.

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