Depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns have been linked to substance abuse. When individuals’ mental health deteriorates, they may be more at risk for substance use as a way to self-medicate their symptoms. For individuals in recovery, caring for mental health is vital to sobriety. Self-care, the act of embracing enjoyable experiences to promote overall well-being, is one strategy for maintaining mental health.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?
Mental health affects psychological, emotional, social, and even physical functioning.
When a person’s mental health is suffering, they may:
- Find it difficult to carry out daily activities
- Experience changes in their sleeping or eating patterns
- Have difficulty regulating their emotions, especially when faced with stressful circumstances
- Have low energy
- Experience unexplained physical pain
- Experience difficulties relating to people
- Feel confused or forgetful
Alternatively, when a person’s mental health is thriving, they may:
- Feel empowered to set goals and reach them
- Feel inspired to embrace their best selves
- Push themselves out of their comfort zones
- Feel energized to complete tasks and take part in activities they enjoy
- Feel motivated to connect with others and cultivate healthy relationships
- Be able to handle stress effectively
SIX IDEAS FOR PRACTICING SELF-CARE IN RECOVERY
When incorporating self-care into your life, make sure it enhances your well-being. Self-care shouldn’t feel obligatory or add any stress. Instead, it should be an enriching and energizing experience. An embodiment of the respect and love you have for yourself, self-care is highly personal. With that in mind, explore some ideas for practicing self-care below.
1. Mindful Breathing
Self-care can be as simple as taking a moment for yourself to breathe mindfully. It’s normal to become so caught up in daily activities that pausing to acknowledge the present moment can feel frivolous. Practicing a couple of minutes of mindful breathing, however, can allow any regrets and worries to fall away. Begin by simply turning your attention to your breath. You may notice that your breathing slows and deepens. As thoughts trickle into your mind, notice them. Then, gently return your awareness to your breathing. Continue this practice for as long as you want. When you’re finished, you’ll have a fresh perspective, renewed energy, and more control over thoughts that aren’t serving you.
2. Social Media Detox
Social media has been associated with increased feelings of loneliness, which can be detrimental to mental health. Give yourself a break from mindless scrolling through social media feeds for the day and replace the activity with other enjoyable experiences, such as reading, jogging, cooking, or creating something new.
Journaling can be a powerful tool for self-exploration, emotional processing, and cathartic release. Allowing yourself just ten minutes to express your thoughts and feelings on paper can improve your overall outlook. You can try stream-of-conscious journaling by writing your thoughts as they come. Or, you can write about the elements of your life that you’re grateful for. If you prefer more structure, you can use therapeutic journaling prompts, like these found on Psychology Today.
Incorporating activities that interest you into your schedule can give you something to look forward to. While taking part in your hobbies, you can inject fun, growth, and new experiences into your life. Whether you enjoy sober softball, hiking, or painting, making time to for your favorite pastimes honors your authenticity and revitalizes your ability to show up as your best self.
Physical activity has been shown to increase overall health including mental health. Half an hour of movement can help release built-up tension and catalyze the production of feel-good hormones — not to mention all the physical health benefits. Whether it’s a brisk walk, yoga class, bike ride, or high-intensity workout, there are so many ways to be active, so choose your movement based on what feels best to you.
6. Social Connection
Your loved ones can help you feel understood, supported, and loved. By spending time with your friends, family, and community members, you fuel yourself with a sense of connection necessary for not only lasting recovery, but a fulfilling life full of quality relationships. Do your best to check in with your loved ones, visit with your friends, and attend recovery events.
CLINICAL SUPPORT FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE USE STRUGGLES
By making self-care a priority you show yourself love, kindness, and respect which are necessary for your ability to embrace your full potential. Self-care is just one way to nurture your mental health, however, and sometimes, professional guidance is necessary to support mental well-being, especially if your recovery is at risk. Seeking outpatient therapeutic support or inpatient addiction treatment can provide you with clinical care that helps you heal any mental health or substance use struggles.
At Wasatch Crest, we help our clients explore ways of nourishing their mental health and create purposeful lives in sobriety. Located in Utah’s Wasatch Mountain Range, we offer a continuum of care that supports clients throughout their early recovery journeys. Reach out to us to learn more about our addiction treatment services.