This post is also available in: French
Many people start using drugs, alcohol, gambling, or another addictive activity, as a way to self-medicate mental health issues. And that leads to a lot of new issues. But, whether or not you loved yourself before addiction, you’re going to struggle with self-love in recovery. The road back to self-love is a long one – but it’s totally worthwhile as you move toward a healthier you in body, mind, and spirit. Congratulations on getting to this point! Here are tips for how to practice self-love in addiction recovery.
Compliment Yourself Daily
If this advice sounds vague and airy, bear with me. You’ve probably heard all about the benefits of daily affirmations. But, saying and doing are entirely different things. And, more importantly, affirmations won’t work unless you believe them.
To find the compliments that you can get behind, think about yourself from an outside perspective. If someone heard your full story, what would they say you did right? Think about someone who loves you unconditionally. How would they describe you to someone else? If you think the answer is weighted with caveats, just take them out.
“She’s exceptionally brilliant, but she’s…” Take out the buts. They have no place here.
Instead, this stage of your life is about moving forward from the buts. It’s okay that they exist. Just acknowledge them and focus on other more productive things. That’s how you practice self-love in addiction recovery. Essentially, you’re taking your life back.
Keep Your Expectations Firmly in Reality
No matter what you’ve been through or where you’re going, there’s one thing we all have in common:
We all have expectations that get in the way.
If you’re anything like me, you’re hard on yourself. And that will mean you’ll likely be tough on yourself in recovery too. There will be days where it will take serious effort to get out of bed. On those days, it’s easy to beat yourself up for what you didn’t do.
But the reality is that everyone has bad days. So, pat yourself on the back because you did get out of bed that day. Maybe back when you were using the addictive substance, you wouldn’t have done so. Celebrate the small victories and know that every day isn’t going to be a runaway success. That’s important as you try to love yourself again.
Check in with Yourself
Self-awareness is a significant part of how to practice self-love. Because you aren’t going to be able to meet your own needs if you aren’t paying attention to what they are, exactly.
If you feel like you’re at a point where you need more social interaction, for example, take the initiative. Maybe that means you join a community group. Or, spend more time with friends and family.
If you feel like you need alone time, consider going on a short retreat or simply spending a day working on fitness or meditation. Just try not to have too much “free” time; that’s not always a good thing for a recovering addict. Take me time when you feel you need it, yes, but keep it structured so that you aren’t tempted to slip back into addictions of the past.
Get Enough Sleep
Firstly, if you’re fighting insomnia, know you’re not alone. Sleep disorders are a common symptom of addiction recovery. But it’s important to do everything in your power to help improve your sleep.
Sleep is such an important part of maintaining good mental and physical health. That’s why I mention it in so many blog posts! And it applies to how to practice self-love during recovery as well. The reason is, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, it’s easier to succumb to stress than if you’re well-rested; and that could lead to a relapse.
Thus, here are a few tips to improve sleep quality and quantity in recovery:
1. Set an earlier bedtime than usual.
Shoot for at least 8 hours of sleep each night. And, if you know it takes an hour to get to sleep, consider winding down even earlier.
2. Power down before bed.
Try shutting down technology at least an hour before your set bedtime. Research shows that the blue screens are terrible for the body’s circadian rhythm. And when you’re in addiction recovery, you can use all the help you can get to help sleep.
3. Darken your room.
Doesn’t it always seem like the sun wakes you up as soon as you went to sleep? That’s probably not the case, but if it might feel that way. If so, invest in some room-darkening shades or curtains.
Stay in Treatment
Addiction isn’t a disease that has a cure. Therefore, if you want to make the most of recovery, stick with the meetings. Because when all is said and done, staying away from drugs, alcohol or another addiction is the best answer to how to practice self-care as a recovering addict. Find a treatment center in your area that has group meetings you can attend weekly for support.
Final Words on How to Practice Self-Love in Recovery
No one ever said that addiction recovery was easy.
Addiction can take its toll on the body. Depending on your substance of choice, there may even be physical reminders of your days of abuse. But thankfully, the body can recover; maybe not entirely, but it is resilient. As for the mind, well, you might have had self-esteem or emotional issues before you began abusing any substance. And self-love issues will probably be there on the other side of addiction when you reach recovery.
But any recovering addict will tell you that the path to loving yourself again is worthwhile. Follow the tips on this list for how to practice self-care, and come up with a few tips of your own. Self-care is a very personal thing, so do what feels right for you. Lastly, keep your time structured. Then you’re on your way to a healthier, happier you.
This post is also available in: French