Self-care is a word I hear a lot in the behavioral health field. As therapists, we are taught to engage in self-care and encourage those we work with to participate in the concept as well. Self-care is especially important for those in recovery for substance use, since it helps manage stress levels.
Self-care is defined as, “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” But how do you “protect” your well-being and happiness? How do you do this especially when you feel as if life is overwhelming?
Take a Few Minutes to Practice Self-Care Every Day
Luckily, self-care can be very easy to incorporate into your routine. It doesn’t have to be a day at the spa or a weekend away. It doesn’t even have to cost any money. It is something that can be done every day for as little as five minutes. The key is to find out what works for you. What relaxes and recharges you? I believe the most important self-care practice is to make sure you are decompressing throughout your day. Every day. If we maintain this we can prevent stress from building up and it becomes more difficult to reach that feeling of being overwhelmed.
Here are some self-care ideas you can do for five minutes.
- Listen to a five-minute guided relaxation on YouTube
- Take a walk and leave your cell phone behind
- Create a list of everything you are grateful for
- Do not worry for five minutes
- Sit or lay down while only concentrating on your breath
- Make a doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off
- Drink a glass of water
- Listen to your favorite song
- Break a sweat and go for a run, do pushups, or practice whatever exercise you enjoy
- Spend time in nature while identifying how each of your five senses are affected
Remain mindful of the activity you are doing; take it all in for the full five minutes. Your mind will wander but just bring it back to the activity you are engaging in.
Benefits of Self-Care for Addiction Recovery
Many people will say they struggle to find the time to do this or feel guilty taking away time from other obligations. I recommend scheduling it into your planner so you don’t feel guilty. This makes it another task on the to-do list. I then explain that self-care decreases the stress hormone cortisol and allows the mind to think clearer. In turn, you are more present and patient with others. Self-care allows you to be a better version of yourself for the cost of five minutes a day. It also helps you feel your best so you can resist any potential triggers for substance use.
Working with a therapist can teach you certain mindfulness or cognitive behavioral skills that promote self-care and actually take time in session to practice. Additionally, a therapist can take a deeper look and help you make adjustments to areas of your life that may be putting you at risk for relapse. If you feel you could benefit from outpatient counseling to help you in your recovery journey, call our intake department to schedule your first session. Actually, taking five minutes to schedule your first appointment is considered self-care!