self care in recovery from addiction

Self-care is made of measures you take to improve your well-being and general health. While it is often used in a context outside of addiction, self-care is an important part of addiction recovery. People will often use the term self-care to describe minor actions, such as a spa day or buying something expensive. But if they are short-term decisions, they won’t do much. Self-care is much more than that, and it is vital for everyone.

When it comes to self-care in addiction recovery, the role of these activities is to help in areas of life that detox alone won’t. The emotional aspect of recovery is just as important as the medical, physical, or psychological ones as well. Relapse has many stages, and one of them is emotional relapse. In fact, poor self-care is not only part of emotional relapse, but it can actually be a trigger for it.

Multiple factors in recovery can make someone fall back into old habits. Emotionally, those who struggled with addiction need to:

  • Understand they are worthy of care and deserve to recover
  • Forgive themselves for what they have done and what they have gone through
  • Know that their addiction does not define them
  • Start feeling comfortable with themselves
  • Process and comprehend their feelings, their value, and their worth
  • Care for symptoms related to mental and/or substance abuse disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.)
  • Avoid self-isolation
  • Find a sense of purpose 

These and many other topics are part of why self-care is important through recovery. Self-care activities are meant to help address these issues and enable recovering addicts to get help. They take time, take work, and some might even seem too hard to go through. But in the long run, these will help prevent relapse, overcome addiction, and improve quality of life.

What Is Self-Care? 

Self-care should be comprised of several activities meant to help a recovering addict take care of themselves. Can the previously mentioned spa day count as self-care? Sure! But that alone will not be enough, since it is a one-time-only activity. Self-care should be several daily activities with the purpose of improving one’s general lifestyle, too. A person should come up with a self-care plan in order to make sure they are covering all the bases.

Because self-care activities will depend on a person’s preferences, personality, and needs, it will be different for each person. There isn’t really a readymade list, and each person will have to make their own self-care plan. There is no use in forcing yourself to do something perceived as self-care if it does you no good. You should consider what makes you feel better, and what you lack in your life. 

Self-care should not be harmful to you in any way. For instance, if traveling is on your list, you should do it in a way that will not make you stressed, anxious, or depressed. If you have seasonal depression, don’t go somewhere with few daylight hours. If you don’t like planes, consider a road trip. If you have a problem with gambling, avoid destinations like Las Vegas. You should take a lot into account when making your self-care plan.

How To Make a Self-Care Plan – 10 Useful Tips

When thinking of what to include in your self-care plan, there are a few categories of activities to pick from: mental, emotional (and/or spiritual), physical, social. Ideally, having a little bit of each should help you have a more balanced self-care plan. The whole point of the plan is to tackle as much as possible, in a way you’re comfortable with, so that you can work on everything while following it.

The different activities should be defined by the “owner” of the plan. However, there are some things to keep in mind when picking them that could help you make up your mind. Here are some tips on each of the categories:


1) Find balance in your short- and long-term plans – Having a routine is important for a number of reasons, and not just so you can organize yourself. It is important to know when to work and/or study and when to take time off. Save some time for the other important parts of your life, like socializing, having quality family time, working on a hobby, etc. 

This balance is also important in the long run. Vacations or breaks throughout the year should not be taken for granted. They should be a way to recharge your batteries. 

2) Disconnect once in a while – There’s no need to delete all of your social media accounts, but taking some time off could be beneficial. It is easy to become overstimulated and overwhelmed by social media without realizing it. And reading the news constantly might trigger a lot of negative emotions. You can try to cut down your daily time spent online, or maybe take one weekly day off. Whatever your job and routine allow you to do!

Emotional And/Or Spiritual 

3) Find counseling and/or therapy – Before, during, and after recovery, counseling and therapy are vital. From relapse prevention to mental health treatment, they are one of the pillars of recovery. For those who need prescription medication, psychotherapy is also highly recommended. Therapy groups, or support groups, are a crucial part of recovery, helping combat feelings of loneliness, purposelessness, and making you feel understood.

Counseling can also help you set goals and/or milestones for yourself and find out how you can follow through. This can also allow you to feel purposeful and acknowledge that you are growing. These are all ways to keep yourself on track and moving forward towards a healthy objective.

4) Keep a journal – Writing or recording what you feel is not only a great way to vent. It can actually help you acknowledge, recognize, and process your feelings. Recovery is a very emotional process, so being aware of your feelings is part of it. Registering your experiences will help you see how much you have evolved in the future, too.

Some people also keep what is called a mood journal. It is a good way to learn more about your emotions – what triggers them, recognize warning signs, and find a healthy coping mechanism. This in-depth analysis is a great way to understand yourself and to improve your behavior and attitude.

5) Holistic therapy and activities – From acupuncture to meditation, holistic medicine has been applied by numerous treatment centers. They have been proven effective in improving well-being and mindfulness. Many believe holistic therapy is a great way to help align the mind and the body through recovery. The natural imbalance that comes from substance abuse requires special attention that holistic therapy can provide.


6) Fix both exercising and sleeping habitsExercising and sleeping well are important to help release important chemicals, such as endorphins. This will help a body that is out of balance due to prolonged substance abuse pick itself up. They also help improve your immune system along with brain functionality.

7) Have a healthy diet – Going on crazy diets is not the same as being healthy. You need to find the diet that works for you in terms of nutrition, routine, and even budget. Make sure to think of it as a way to “relearn” how to eat rather than a diet to lose weight or get muscular. Ultimately, your goal should be getting healthier. Avoiding foods that might be harmful to you is important, too, like caffeine or sugary snacks.


8) Know who you should surround yourself with – Sobering up means making changes to your social circles. You need to have supportive people around you and cut all ties with negative influences. Be with people that respect your boundaries (i.e.: not going to bars) and your sober lifestyle.

9) Volunteer – Volunteering allows you to help others while also making new connections. It can be a great way to get to know your community and your neighbors. You can choose to do something specific to your skill set, or learn something completely new! In general, it is an opportunity to work on multiple items that are vital for recovery.

10) Adopt a pet – Studies have stated that having a pet can make you healthier and happier. An unconditional, loving friendship can elevate dopamine and serotonin levels. In layman’s terms, they can reduce stress levels and balance the mind. The act of caring for a pet and feeling loved by them are truly effective remedies.

Sail Through Recovery at Coastal Detox

Transitioning into a new, sober life is no easy feat, and it has an emotional toll. Having emotional support during recovery is as important as any other aspect of treatment. That is why we at Coastal Detox offer multiple services meant to help you emotionally as you recover.

Our center is equipped with a Holistic Room, Wellness Groups, a zen garden, and even a gym. This way, you will be able to actually fulfill many of your possible goals for your self-care plan!

If you have any questions or would like to have a tour of our facilities, contact us today. Our team will be happy to provide any information you need and guide you through the process of recovery. We believe in emotional, mental recovery, and we are here to support you!