Is Self-Care Selfish?
By: Cumberland Heights
What is Self-Care?
As you pursue a life in recovery, you have to rediscover what it means to take care of yourself. For many people, self-care seems like a selfish extravagance – instead of making time for relaxation and maintenance activities, they look outwards. Unfortunately, when you feel the need to prioritize career milestones, other people, or personal goals over your own wellbeing, it becomes difficult to maintain a lifestyle of sobriety. Today, we’d like to examine why self-care is not selfish – in fact, it is a vital part of your recovery.
Why Stress is Dangerous
One of the leading contributors to substance use and relapse is stress. Because little stressors can compile over time, several small irritants can build up into a seemingly insurmountable feeling of helplessness. Long hours at the office without time to cool down can lead to burnout. Worrying over personal interactions can distract from vital deadlines, like household bill due dates. Many people initially turn to substance use to escape these pressures, and it is not uncommon for those who are stressed in recovery to return to this coping mechanism. For this reason, it is vital to learn to manage your stress levels. The best approach to this is a dedicated self-care regimen.
Take Care of Yourself
If you’ve spent any amount of time on social media, you’ve probably seen a lot of extravagant approaches to #selfcare. Bubble baths, face masks and manicures are at the forefront of many people’s perception of self-care, however, they’re not all that this healthy habit involves.
Consider the metaphor of a house. If you spend all of your time renovating, decorating and painting the main floor, but choose to ignore a cracked foundation or leaky pipe in the basement, you are not set up for success in home ownership. This is the perfect comparison of superficial self-care versus daily personal improvement.
In reality, self-care consists of many small maintenance tasks. Some of these are unlikely to show up on anyone’s social media profiles, but they are immensely important to your recovery. They may include…
- Setting aside time to manage your household finances
- Checking your home or apartment for any needed repairs
- Scheduling appointments with your doctor or therapist
- Opening mail in a timely fashion, especially bills
- Performing preventative maintenance on one’s vehicle
- Seeking support from loved ones
- Working through difficult memories or past traumas
- Attending AA or NA meetings
Paying attention to your physical and mental health is another vital component of successful sobriety. After all, it’s hard to feel your best if you’re not eating well. Making changes to your diet can reinvigorate you in the coming winter months, and this may even inspire you to make the leap to daily exercise. Exercise can boost your mood and help you to overcome any seasonal issues. You should also seek counseling or group meetings to discuss your obstacles in sobriety.
Self-care can also take the form of serving as your own advocate in all of your relationships. Often, it seems easier for people to accept any form of treatment without protest, even when friends or family members are hurting your feelings or endangering your recovery. This is when it becomes vital to put yourself first. By setting boundaries, you can begin to learn which of your relationships has been built to last. You can then begin to cultivate the friendships that bring you joy, and to quietly end any unsupportive or toxic relationships.
We hope that you can see how important it is to begin putting yourself first. Above all else, taking care of your mental, physical and spiritual well-being is never selfish – it allows you to build a strong foundation on which to support yourself and others. Pouring time into self-care isn’t something you will ever regret.
Cumberland Heights empowers men and women of all ages to embrace the miracle of recovery. Our addiction treatment programs are nationally recognized, with countless clean and sober alumni. If you would like to learn more about our services, please call 800-646-9998 today.