Self-care is always important, no matter what the situation. It is especially valuable to take care of ourselves during times of high stress. Unfortunately, experiencing high stress often leads us to neglect self-care. For a person in recovery who is under great stress, neglecting self-care during COVID could be a formula for disaster.
What Is Stress?
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, stress:
- Impacts everyone. Even though stress affects everyone, we each react differently to it. What one person finds mildly annoying, another person might find completely intolerable. We are all wired differently, and our past experiences can impact how we experience the world around us.
- Can be short-term and expected or long-term and unexpected. We expect to be a bit stressed from time to time at school or work. We don’t always expect to experience the death of a loved one or a divorce, which can create unexpected, long-term stress.
- Isn’t always bad. Stress is what allowed our ancestors to flee or fight back when attacked by predators, and it is sometimes what keeps us on track when we have work to do and are otherwise lacking motivation.
- Is bad when it’s long-term. Our bodies and minds aren’t meant to be under the chronic stress that we might experience from prolonged trauma.
- Can be managed. There are tools a person can use to keep stress from becoming overwhelming, and trained professionals can help people process their stressful experiences and build their resiliency.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care has become a bit of a phenomenon among social media celebrities. They display photos of lavish homes, expensive cars. and exotic vacations with the hashtag “self-care.” While self-care can include treating oneself to something special, the term has far more meaning than simply throwing around obscene amounts of cash for short-term gratification.
Self-care isn’t always fun or glamorous. It simply means taking the necessary steps to improve one’s life. This can include even the most basic things, like taking a shower, having a healthy sleep schedule, and paying bills.
When it comes to recovery, self-care during COVID can include things like:
- Calling your sponsor
- Attending a recovery meeting
- Completing assignments your sponsor has given you
- Finding ways to give back
- Avoiding people and places that are likely to trigger a relapse
Why Stress Requires Added Self-Care
In times of heightened stress, such as during COVID, it is easy to forget to care for your own needs, which is the first step toward relapse. When things get really stressful, it is important to pull out coping skills that facilitate self-care, including:
- Strengthening Your Boundaries – If you see that one or more people in your life are making it harder for you to be successful–by being dramatic, being toxic, or refusing to accept the healthy changes you are choosing–it may be time to remove them from your life or at least reduce their involvement.
- Writing it Out – You may find it helpful to journal your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, not only because it can make you feel better in the moment, but also because it might become a sort of guidebook for you. When you encounter stress in the future, you can refresh your memory of how you got through it before.
- Meditating – A plethora of videos online teach mindfulness and meditation techniques, and the benefits include things like improved focus, better sleep, and decreased anxiety. All of these can lower your stress levels.
- Getting a Hobby – Whether it’s watching a movie, crafting, photography, music, or something else entirely, a hobby can give your brain something else to focus on and decrease the negative feelings you might be experiencing.
- Sleeping it Off – A good night’s sleep can be the solution to a number of problems. Sometimes just taking the time to rest and refresh can make a difficult situation much easier to process and resolve.
If you are a person in recovery who is worried about stress derailing your progress, or if you are someone who feels too stressed out to enter recovery right now, Valley Recovery Center is here to help. We work with each of our guests to ensure that they have the tools to address stressful experiences and a plan that makes sense in the context of their own life. Get started on your unique recovery journey by contacting us today.