Going through drug rehab and coming home to begin recovery is one phase you’ve completed. You should be proud. Now, however, the real work begins.
Gone is the structured environment where you knew what was expected every hour of the day, from one-on-one counseling to group therapy to various forms of therapeutic treatment, experiential and holistic therapies.
As you return home to your new life in sobriety, take heed to maintain the healthy lifestyle you’ve just begun. Here are 10 reasons why good self-care is essential after drug rehab:
- Getting Physically Fit Helps You Heal
No matter what your addiction, smoking, alcohol, drugs, gambling, overeating, compulsive sex, overwork or self-destructive behavior does increasing harm to your body over time. Overcoming years of such harmful behavior begins with the commitment to sobriety. But it doesn’t end there. You need more than just a commitment to not drinking, doing drugs, gambling or other addictive behavior. You also need to get physically fit in order to heal properly.This isn’t about muscles and curves. Being physically fit means adopting and adhering to a regimen of physical exercise, nutrition and adequate sleep that’s appropriate for your body, lifestyle, interests and goals.Make it a point to do some form of vigorous physical exercise for 30 minutes each day. It can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, doing yoga, going to the gym, or taking a core strengthening class. Later on, take up activities like downhill skiing, competitive sports, or training for a marathon. Join a class where you can perform your exercises to music or do meditation before or after Pilates or yoga.
- Watch What You Eat
A proper diet is absolutely essential to good self-care after drug rehab. This means you avoid starches, sweets, and salts, or at least eat them in moderation. Drink plenty of fluids — water is best, and if you drink fruit juices, go for all-natural, steering clear of high-calorie sugary drinks. Hydration is important for vigorous exercise. If you feel thirsty, chances are you’re already dehydrated. Refill your reservoir with at least 8 ounces of fresh or bottled water.
- Be Sure To Get Adequate Shut-Eye
With the right amount of sleep, your body refuels and replenishes itself. Adults should strive for a good 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Getting sufficient sleep after drug rehab is not only good self-care, it’s essential to maintaining your sobriety. Whether you’re still experiencing residual effects from chronic substance abuse or long-term addiction, the fact is that you need a good night’s sleep on a regular basis in order to heal.
- Attitude Matters — A Lot
In recovery, the key to being happy and productive begins with your attitude. As famed coach Lou Holtz said, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”Attitude is how you treat others. It’s how you look at life, respond to challenges, succeed or fail. Attitude affects your relationships, your health. It becomes your personal trademark, creates experiences for you and for others. Attitude is also contagious. So, in recovery, do a daily check of your attitude. What you put out there really does matter, a lot.
- Teach Yourself How to Relax
Life has a lot of situations that create tension and stress within us. Everyone experiences these things and has to learn how to deal with them. Addicts, however, have a history of picking up a drink, smoking a joint, popping a pill or injecting a drug to alleviate tension and stress. After drug rehab, you need to practice the healthier ways to relax you learned about in treatment.Why is it important to relax? Since you’re bound to feel stressed out and tense at certain times — often without much warning — if you don’t have a coping strategy for dealing with these emotions they’ll build up to a point where you’ll explode. Recovery experts say that the inability to relax and increased tension are two of the most common causes of relapse.How you relax is up to you. There are many ways to ease the tensions and get rid of stress. They range from simple techniques like taking a walk to more complex and structured activities such as doing meditation. Sometimes a simple walk will do the trick, but if you’re particularly frazzled or burned out, meditation can help you turn off the chatter and put your mind at peace. You can take a class, buy CDs and DVDs, or borrow books from the library on how to relax, do meditation, deep breathing, yoga or other relaxation techniques.Teach yourself how to relax. It will prove to be one of the most constructive things you can do for yourself in recovery.
- Enrich Your Spirituality
Whether spirituality to you is belief in God or a Higher Power or simply the power of humanity, there’s no question that embracing your spirituality is one of the most constructive things you can do for self-care in recovery. You can devote yourself to meditation, practice yoga or deep breathing exercises. Go outside and marvel at Nature’s beauty. Embrace the essence of your own spirituality by reciting mantras that reinforce your goodness and self-worth. Be thankful for all that you have achieved, for the loved ones who surround you, for the friends that are always on your side, for life, for health, for happiness.It’s during the quiet moments of your self-reflection when you can perhaps really begin to appreciate the depth of how much your recovery means to you — and to your family. Remember, no one is in recovery alone. There is much to be thankful for.
- Daydreaming Has Its Advantages
Daydreaming is vastly underrated. Among its many benefits are that it helps reduce stress, gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizons, helps with problem-solving and decision-making, boosts creativity and increases your chances of success in your endeavors. While there are many actions you need to take for your recovery on a day-to-day basis, be sure to allow a little time now and then for a good stint of daydreaming. It’s excellent self-care that will pay handsome dividends.
- Build a Rich and Meaningful Life
In recovery, it’s often tough to allocate time between doing what we have to do and what we feel really inspired to do or that fills our life with purpose. We may feel empty or lost when we’ve completed drug rehab and are attempting to make our way in sobriety. In his book, Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, Todd Kashdan, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at George Mason University in Virginia, recommends that people focus on building a rich and meaningful life, one guided by core values and interests. This means living a life that is infused with meaning while at the same time embracing the full range of human emotions — the positive and the negative.Be mindful, explore new things, live in the moment and relish the unknown. Not only is this is another reason self-care is so important to healing, it’s also how we can achieve greater happiness in life in recovery.
- Learn the Art of Letting Go
Who doesn’t have a lot of baggage once they’re finally clean and sober? Whether this is your first time being sober or a return to sobriety following a relapse, and even though you’ve probably learned a few coping mechanisms, there is always something that carries over from the past. While we’re instructed to learn how to recognize and identify these holdovers from our addictive days and given some time to practice effective coping mechanisms, the truth is that we all have something from our past that at least occasionally plagues us.A good self-care strategy is to learn the art of letting go. This does not mean forget the past or shirk all responsibility for the things we have done that have brought harm to ourselves and others. We do need to acknowledge our past actions and take responsibility for them. But we also need to forgive ourselves for our actions and let them go. We will be working on making amends for our misdeeds, where and when it is possible and appropriate, but in the process of letting those intrusive thoughts go we will free ourselves and become more open to making the changes we want for our new life in recovery.
- Live in the Present to Truly Appreciate Life
It can be all too easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of daily to-do lists, trying to cram in as many activities as possible, and consequently depriving yourself of any time to reflect and appreciate life in the present moment. Stress, tension, competing and conflicting demands, lack of sleep, no time to eat properly — all take a toll. It’s time to step off the endless treadmill and focus on this moment here and now.But how do you learn to live in the present? How do you turn off all the noise surrounding you? Mindfulness meditation is one self-care activity that can not only quell the distractions, but also help you focus on what’s important: your life today.
By Suzanne Kane