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9 Steps to Building a Self-Care Plan in Recovery

Essentially, recovery is finding a lifestyle and a pattern of thinking that’s conducive to sobriety, health and living a fulfilling life. For many, it’s also life-long process.

Building a Recovery Plan

Although most treatment programs provide aftercare services, such as referrals to community resources, individuals in recovery are ultimately responsible for their own lives. Support is important, but self-care is essential. In the end, we are responsible for our own happiness and sobriety.

No two people are the same, and it’s important to create a self-care program that works for you — and you alone. However, there are aspects of self-care that are applicable to most anyone in recovery.

Since life is multidimensional, we must address each part to form the whole: the physical, the spiritual, the emotional and social.

To that end, listed are nine basic steps for creating a successful and balanced self-care plan in recovery.

Physical Self-Care

  • ExerciseYou don’t have to weight train or run a marathon. A simple walk to the store or an occasional bicycle ride will create “feel-good” endorphins and relieve stress. And remember, exercise and fun are not mutually exclusive. Join a recreational sports league or try surfing. The possibilities are endless.
  • Get sleepSleep affects our mood and how we view each day. You’re much more inclined to keep a positive attitude during the day after a full night of restful sleep. Although life happens, even after 11 p.m., keeping a regular sleep pattern can be very beneficial, physically and emotionally.
  • Eat HealthyIn recovery, it may be tempting to replace old bad habits with new bad habits, such as eating poorly. However, research shows that food directly affects our mood. Healthy food promotes a healthier mood. It’s literally food for thought.

Spiritual and Emotional Self-Care

  • Love YourselfAlthough it may seem simple, it’s not always. Try daily morning affirmations or acknowledge your own accomplishments. Remember, self-care is a practice of understanding, accepting and loving yourself to promote a healthier and better you.
  • RelaxStress is a killer. Recovery is not always easy, and an inability to cope with stress is a major cause for relapse. Get a massage, take a walk in nature or simply schedule some time for reflecting and meditation. While work, family and day-to-day responsibilities won’t vanish, it’s important to schedule a time for you.
  • Find BalanceToo often in recovery, we rely on only a few aspects of our lives to find fulfillment, whether it’s a job, a person or even recovery itself. If you go to five AA meetings a day but you’re consistently stressed, are you really practicing successful self-care? Without balance, we risk teetering when we lean too heavily on only a few particular parts of our lives.

Social Self-Care

  • Find SupportWhether it’s a peer support group, recovery fellowship, sober friends or supportive family members, social interactions are essential to our lives. To practice true self-care, we must allow others into our lives.
  • Talk to SomeoneFor some, visiting a therapist plays a major role in self-care, especially in early recovery. For others, a close friend with an attentive ear may suffice. Regardless, it’s important to allow your emotions to breathe.
  • Set BoundariesLet others know you’re living a sober lifestyle. There’s no need to shout it from the rooftops, but self-care is about protecting yourself and your sobriety. If others know you’re in recovery, it may prevent uncomfortable social situations and create new relationships with like-minded people.

Additional Reading: 5 Ways to Be Comfortable in the Present Moment

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