Recovering from addiction isn’t just a matter of remaining abstinent from drugs and alcohol. In fact, just focusing on abstinence is doing it the hard way and it will probably fail sooner rather than later. A strong recovery requires treating physical mental and health recovery issues, creating a supportive social network, and making healthy lifestyle changes. After treatment, it’s crucial to make a daily effort to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. Failure to pay attention to your basic physical and emotional needs can quickly lead to relapse. Here are some of the most important ways to practice self-care when recovering from addiction.
What Does Dual Diagnosis Mean for Mental Health in Addiction Recovery?
In cases of dual diagnosis, neither substance use or mental illness necessarily comes first. In some cases, people experiencing mental health issues may start using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate in an attempt to alleviate their mental health symptoms. In other cases, certain substances can cause people with an addiction to start experiencing mental health symptoms.
We do know that mental disorders and substance use disorders do share some overlapping underlying causes, including genetic susceptibility, changes in brain composition, and early exposure to trauma or stress. Lets take a look at some things you can do to maintain your mental health in recovery.
Taking Care of Yourself First
People tend to be very aware of the importance of caring for their physical health. We all know for example that eating nutritious food fuels our bodies and minds with energy. We also know that exercise is important, as it helps to strengthen muscles and also the cardiovascular system. Regular exercise also helps you to be able to engage in physical activities that are inherently beneficial for overall well-being. What people are sometimes less aware of is the fact that good mental health needs to be cultivated as well.
Our minds are like muscles that also need exercise and practice to keep them strong, flexible, and clear. The mind and train of thought play a considerable role in the success of a patient’s recovery. Adopting a more positive mindset can help mitigate your chances of spiraling into negative patterns. Being mindful and taking moments to reflect daily can help put your recovery journey into perspective and help you realize how far you have come.
The idea of self-care doesn’t have to be overwhelming or scary, though it definitely can be at first. In today’s culture, self-care is often thought to be taking a long bath or treating yourself to a new clothing item, but it’s so much more than that. Self-care is different for everyone and can look like a variety of different things. For some, self-care will be doing the dishes after coming out of a depressive episode, for others, it will be buying a ticket to see a movie after a stressful week. Self-care looks different for everyone, and that’s okay.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Your physical health directly influences your mental health in addiction recovery. Whatever you eat or drink affects your mind and body equally. For example, when a person becomes an alcoholic or smokes persistently, he/she loses the ability to remain focused on work or studies and which ultimately leads to failure. Similarly, excess salt in your diet can abnormally increase the blood flow which in turn causes feelings of anxiousness and anger. Likewise, having a well-balanced diet, as prescribed by your doctor or a nutritionist keeps you happy and healthy.
Work on managing your time and energy. Try to decrease your workload and take some time for meditation or journaling daily. Go to the gym or work out at home to stay active. Exercise is undoubtedly the best and simplest way to overcome mental illnesses. It also helps you overcome physical changes like weight gain or weight loss as a result of hormonal changes caused by depression or stress. Keep a close check on your routine and make the best effort to let go of the distress and be regular in taking your prescribed medicine.
Manage Your Stress
When recovering from addiction, stress is not your friend, especially early on. While we all need a little stress to motivate us and keep us focused, too much stress can make you feel overwhelmed and lead to cravings and negative emotions. Every method of self-care will reduce stress to some degree by increasing your energy and resilience. However, there are some specific things you can do to keep stressors from multiplying. For example, it’s important to know how much you can handle and learn to say no to additional responsibilities. Have a clear understanding of your priorities and do those things first. Also, much of our stress comes from interpersonal conflict. Learning to communicate better and resolve conflict can drastically reduce the amount of stress in your life.
Find Your Balance for Mental Health in Addiction Recovery
As a society, we tend to place a lot of value on the things that we do. We equate busyness with how good, productive, and valuable we are. However, this is a destructive and dangerous mindset for those who are in the early stages of recovery
When you first begin to journey to sobriety, it can be extremely easy to spend all your time doing one activity, in an attempt to keep yourself distracted and avoid the temptation to use drugs or alcohol. Finding a healthy balance between work, school, social life, and recovery activities like 12-step meetings can be tricky, but is possible. All of these things can be fulfilling, but if you’re focusing too much on one aspect of your life, you’ll quickly find yourself feeling overwhelmed, which could quickly lead to a relapse.
Build and Mental Health in Addiction Recovery Support System
Everyone needs the support of others in their lives, and your friends and family can make up your support network. Having people you can lean on is empowering in itself.
- Reach out to family and friends. Simply saying hello or offering to help with a task can spark conversation.
- Use technology. Connect with people far away via email, text messaging or video calls.
- Connect with people who share your interests. Join a club, volunteer at a local organization or take a class to help meet people who share your likes and interests.
- Look for peer support groups. If you are facing a personal challenge, consider joining a peer support group to help take care of your mental health in addiction recovery and connect with people who are facing something similar.
- Ask for help. Reach out to your local library, place of worship, or community center to learn more about local events you may want to attend or groups you may want to join.
Do Not Worry and Do Not Blame
Do not worry about the thing that you can’t control, nor try to take control of everything around you. Complete recovery needs time and depending upon your conditions it will either be treated through medication or therapy. Trust your doctor and follow the prescribed lifestyle and diet. Do not blame yourself or any other person for your mental illness. Mental health issues might be a result of stress you get from some job-related issue or some family dispute, but no one can be solely blamed for it. Relieve yourself from envy and guilt and focus on your treatment only. Do not let any negative emotions control your life.
Spot Your Early Warning Signs
If you can, try to be aware of how you’re feeling, and watch out for any signs you might be becoming unwell. These will be individual to you, but it can be useful to reflect on what these may be so you can get support as soon as possible. No one in substance use recovery is shielded from the possibility of experiencing a relapse. However, relapse doesn’t just happen; it typically evolves over a period of weeks. Keep an eye out for these early warning signs.
- Diminishing contact with sponsor
- Neglecting recovery practices.
- Increasing symptoms of anxiety or depression
- Romanticizing past substance use
Mental Health and Addiction Recovery with Harmony Ridge
Our staff at Harmony Ridge is dedicated to maintaining the highest quality of care by evolving our programs to exceed our members’ expectations. We will always provide support for them at every step of their recovery journey. We believe that giving patients a clear-cut understanding of their substance abuse disorder will help us give them the skills they need to give up drugs for good. The first step towards achieving recovery is giving us a call. Our team of admissions professionals is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Give us a call today! (855) 942-3922