PRACTICING SELF-CARE IN SUD RECOVERY
“Self Care”; it’s one of those hot-button, click bait, $1 words we see on social media, on tv, on ads and blasted at us from beauty products everyday. But, it’s not just a token word, it’s an important tool and a skill for successful recovery and a healthy life. Ok, not the hot-button, click bait, $1, face mask, bubble bath version of self-care we see on instagram. We mean real self care, which can include face masks and bubble baths, but is also much more than that.
The self care we’re talking about is about taking care of your whole self. It’s about balancing the demands of our external world with our internal needs and recognizing that we have to be healthy and well if we are going to meet those demands. It’s about learning how to put ourselves first sometimes, so we can live our lives with joy and have the energy we need to put others first when we need to.
There are a lot of ways we can care for ourselves and lots of tools we can use to do so and most of these fall into one of the 7 Categories of Self Care. The structure of the 7 Categories gives us a solid foundation to work from to figure out what self care needs to be for us. So now, we’ll go on to discuss each of these categories and some techniques we can use to provide each form of self care.
THE 7 CATEGORIES OF SELF CARE
Emotional Self Care
This means identifying the way we are feeling and allowing ourselves to sit with those feelings and try to understand them. Processing and accepting our emotions is an important aspect of self-care. Some methods of emotional self care are keeping a journal and/or having an open conversation with a friend. Anything that helps us process our emotions is a tool for emotional self care.
Physical Self Care
Taking care of our physical selves. This includes making time to exercise, eating right and getting enough sleep. Physical self care is important to keep our bodies healthy but there is also a strong connection between physical health and mental health. Physical self-care is important as it can have a positive effect on the other types of self care.
Spiritual Self Care
For some this means maintaining the practices of their religion or faith but for many others it simply means taking time to practice activities that make them feel grounded, peaceful and safe. These activities can be an individual’s spiritual conditioning which include things like yoga, meditation or simply walking outdoors. Spiritual self-care allows us to feel like healthy, whole individuals.
Social Self Care
All humans need social interaction to feel our best. We need to spend time with family and friends to feel cared for and loved. How much social time each individual needs is different but everyone needs it. So make plans to spend time with people that make you laugh or just make life feel better, it’s important! Some tools in the Social Self-Care toolbox include spending time with friends, joining new social groups (run clubs, book groups, church groups etc.) chatting with coworkers, or going to gatherings.
Mental Self Care
Mental self care means taking time to balance our inner voice but also to feed our brains in order to keep ourselves curious, engaged and learning. Without mental self care our inner voices can quickly become negative and critical but with mental self care we can maintain an inner voice that is positive and grateful, it just takes a little work! It also takes work to keep our minds sharp, which helps us feel like productive and happy humans. Reading, listening to podcasts, solving puzzles, or taking classes are all things that keep our brains engaged and healthy.
Relational Self Care
Building strong relationships now means we’ll have them to lean on when we need them later. Relational self-care is putting the time and energy into nurturing those relationships. Relational Self Care is similar to Social Self Care but it focuses more on the strength of the individual relationships in your network. Relational Self-Care means putting time and effort into building strong relationships. Think “Are there ways I could improve my relationship with my partner? Could I feel more connected with my family if I changed the way I interact with them? Do I feel trusted and supported in my relationships?” Tools in the relational self care toolbox include planning activities to increase quality time, having meaningful honest conversations, and asking for help from the other person.
Safety and Security Self Care
This category of self care is like the brass tacks of self care. It’s having a plan for emergency situations. Examples of this type of self care are talking with your family about how you would handle personal emergencies such as a fire in the home, having a relapse prevention plan, or keeping blankets and jumper cables in your car. This may seem very different from the other forms of self care but being prepared for an emergency can lift a lot of stress off our shoulders and allows us to go about our lives and our work with clearer minds.
These 7 Categories of self care give us a baseline understanding of what self-care can look like. However, for each individual the actual practice of self care will look different. What is important is that everyone has the tools they need to maintain their health and well being. So what will self care look like for you?
We’d like to invite you to download the tools that we use to help our staff and program participants assess their current self care routines and further develop their routines.
This packet contains a Self Care Assessment designed to help you define the quality of your current self care routine, as well as a Self Care Plan which will help you develop your self care plan and find any room for improvement.
One important thing to remember with a self-care plan is that it needs to change as often as you do. Tools that you find helpful now, might not continue to serve you indefinitely. Flexibility in your self-care is important. Be kind to yourself and recognize that changing isn’t failing it’s just changing, and your self-care plan is a tool made by you, for you. If you tried a self-care technique and it didn’t work for you that’s ok! Maybe hot-yoga just isn’t your thing!
You are valuable, important and strong. A self-care plan should help you feel that way. If you are in a place where you think you might need more than a self-care plan to start feeling better, reach out to us at (603)554-8142 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Contact ARCNH
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