Self-Care Is An Inner Journey
The choice to enter detox and rehab can be extremely difficult. It may have even been imposed upon you or reached under duress. However, quality self-care can enhance your recovery process once you are through the discomfort of detox. Self-care practices are healthy choices to support your body, mind, and spirit. Self-care during rehab and recovery is not just about staying sober. It is also about focusing on ways to be successful in all areas of your life.
Support Your Body with Cleansing Foods
Addictive drugs are hard on your body. Your cleansing organs, including the liver, gut, and kidneys, may have been working overtime to keep your body going while misusing drugs. Your liver needs raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats to function effectively as your body sheds toxins. Your kidneys need plenty of fluids to flush out destructive free radicals, especially if your history of abuse includes alcohol. Because alcohol dehydrates the body, your kidneys have to move more toxins with less liquid. Finally, your gut needs fiber to carry away waste effectively.
Nutrition plays an essential role when you are caring for yourself in recovery. Here is a sample menu for reference:
You may be craving sugar early on in your recovery. When possible, try to satisfy that sweet tooth with fruit. Your breakfast may include whole grain toast, some peanut butter, and a banana or bowl of berries.
Try to fill your lunch plate with at least 50% vegetables, both raw and cooked. If you’ve never liked the taste of raw veggies, try a baked potato with broccoli and some cheese for protein as your veggie course.
Dinner is the time to add more protein and your favorite starches. A heavier meal shortly before bedtime, particularly a dose of starches, may help you sleep better in the early days of recovery. Salmon and sweet potatoes on a bed of brown rice can sate your hunger and help you sleep deeply.
Try to include foods that contain a great deal of water in your snacks. Berries, grapefruit, and applesauce can all help you stay hydrated and support your cleansing process. If your history of abuse includes alcohol and you have issues with reflux, a quarter cup of applesauce before bed can soothe your tummy.
Treat yourself to some reusable water bottles and rotate them in the refrigerator so you always have cool drinking water to cleanse your kidneys and the rest of your body. Flavored water can also be beneficial, but if you find yourself reaching for nothing but flavored water because your sweet tooth is calling, try to stick with plain water early in the day.
If you love your coffee, enjoy it black or just with creamer. Loading up your beverages with sugar will contribute a lot of unhealthy calories to your daily intake. Try to cut back on coffee after lunch to sleep better at night. If you get a caffeine withdrawal headache, try a cup of green tea with a water chaser.
Relax and Release Your Mind
Addictive drugs are also hard on your brain. As the toxins leave your body, you may start to experience memories and feelings that agitate or frighten you. You may be bothered by memories of conversations that hurt you. Finally, you may have recurring flashbacks that crop up if you have been using LSD or other hallucinogenic drugs.
Our brains are used to being full of thoughts and memories. You may have started using drugs or alcohol to suppress some of these. Learning to meditate can give you control over such thoughts and train your mind to get rid of them.
On the surface, meditation sounds simple. You sit still and think about nothing. However, because we’ve been in a state of constant thinking for most of our lives, the daily practice of meditation can take a lot of focus! The following is a suggestion for a no-frills meditation technique. Use a timer to help you avoid distractions, and start with 10-minute sessions.
- Sit in a comfortable spot facing a static field, such as a blank wall or a single picture.
- Close your eyes for focus or light a candle you can stare at.
- Breathe deeply and exhale slowly, focusing only on your breath.
- When thoughts come into your mind, guide your mind back to emptiness. Be gentle.
- Keep breathing and sending errant thoughts away until the timer goes off.
Many people find that meditation is quite refreshing. If you struggle to sleep well in the early stages of recovery, a mid-afternoon meditation practice can boost your energy. You may also find that your problem-solving skills increase tremendously after meditation. If you have been working through a difficult problem in your therapy sessions, you may find that resolving it is easier after regular meditation sessions.
Exercise for Mental Health
The best time to meditate may be right after you exercise. Oftentimes, the rehab and early recovery process can lead to agitation.
Consider an exercise routine that allows you to dispel the agitation until you feel you’re in control again. For example, you may choose to run for a block or two, then walk until you get your breath back as your brain calms down. Because walking is a habitual activity, you may find that your creative brain kicks in when you stop jogging and start walking. If solutions to tough problems crop up, use a small notebook to write down those ideas.
You may be uncomfortable in or with your body. You may also be in physical pain in the early stages of rehab and recovery. Consider getting in the water at a pool or lake to exercise. Water allows for low-impact exercise because it puts less pressure on your joints than land-based activities.
Take Care of Your Skin During Rehab and Recovery
Take the time to care for your skin. You may find that your skin feels quite sensitive after detoxing and during your early recovery process; your nervous system is going through some big changes. In addition to healthy foods and plenty of water, cleanse the exterior of your body gently. For example, you may enjoy the hot water of a shower a great deal. However, it will dry out your skin. To enjoy the water and avoid the itch, use a body scrub that contains your favorite fragrance and oil. Brown sugar and olive oil can make a wonderful DIY body scrub you can mix up any time in small batches.
Try to use a light lotion after your bath. Heavy creams can clog pores that really need to breathe while your body recuperates during rehab and early recovery. Some people find that they develop sores and blisters as they cleanse. You may need to lower the water temperature in the shower or switch to a warm bath to reduce the sting of a shower spray.
You may notice that you sweat more during rehab and early recovery because your body is working hard to shed toxins and get healthy again. Allow yourself as many showers as you need to feel fresh. Treat yourself to a microfiber towel for your face to avoid blemishes or irritating tired skin. Consider a body wash that contains a bit of tea tree oil to cut down on odor-causing bacteria.
There is little that is more frustrating than not being able to sleep deeply, especially if you’ve been working hard to support your body, brain, and spirit through detox, rehab, and recovery. Carefully consider the factors that may be keeping you awake. Remember also to stay patient. There are drugs that can alter your circadian rhythm.
Cover your windows. Put electronics in the next room. If you use your phone as an alarm, turn off notifications and turn up the alarm volume; you will hear it chiming even if you place it far from where you sleep. Consider eliminating electric light before bed to help your brain relax, and avoid viewing screens after 8 p.m. Some people benefit from only using candlelight for 30 minutes before bed.
Make sure your mattress or mattress topper is suited to your sleeping position. If you’re a side sleeper, you need the most cushion and a fairly thick pillow. A stomach sleeper needs a firm bed and can often go without a pillow. If you’re a hot sleeper, consider a bed on a vented frame to cut back on heat buildup.
Bedding and Pajamas
Cotton bedding can help to wick away moisture if you’re struggling with night sweats. Add a waterproof mattress cover to protect your bed, and treat yourself to multiple sets of cotton sheets so you can swap them out. Cotton tends to grab onto other fabrics. If you’re a restless sleeper, nylon pajamas may be more comfortable.
A bit of white noise, such as a fan, may help you sleep more deeply. Areas of your brain that have been impacted by drugs may be much more sensitive to noise as they come back online. Often, toxins such as alcohol and the subsequent detox can lead to neuropathic pain or painful episodes related to auditory stimuli.
Support Your Spirit
Spiritual health is just as important as physical and mental health. A spiritual practice can give you a calm state of mind. If you see that space as your time with a deity, enjoy it. If you just see it as a place of calm and quiet, use that.
Community support can be found within many spiritual practices that do not include religious pressures. Take your time and make the best spiritual choices for your needs. Understand that your needs may change; if you find comfort in the presence of an accepting spiritual community, you may be excited about providing the same support to another in the future.
Detox, rehab, and recovery are a lot of hard work. You may have to face harsh memories and deal with unmasked mental health challenges or destructive family history while you rebuild your body. Your drug or alcohol use may have kept you from taking good care of yourself for months or years. It may take time and effort to develop good self-care habits again. Remember to be patient with yourself.
If You Need Help
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, self-care is not just about staying sober; it is also about focusing on ways to be successful as you live your life. You may be struggling with your recovery process, and part of self-care is asking for help when you need it. At Granite Recovery Centers, our professionals are passionate about helping people succeed during their recovery process. Feel free to contact us to provide any support you need.