Self-care is an important tool for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, in addition to concurrent mental health disorders.
Self-care is a self-designed programme to help bring you calm, peace, and serenity in the face of stress. Though self-care is wonderful and rejuvenating, it can be difficult for some people to develop.
What is self-care?
Self-care means learning to process emotions, feelings, and stress while providing the care one needs based on their specific needs.
- Some people see exercise as self-care while others see journalling as self-care.
- Since you didn’t have a role model for self-care, you will have to define self-care for yourself.
- In order to do that you will have to recognise that you are worth being taken care of by yourself and that self-care is helpful for recovery.
You were lacking role models of self-care growing up
Self-care is something that has to be taught and in turn, something that has to be learned.
You might not have had parents or other adult role models who demonstrated self-care to you.
Most people care about themselves in behaviours that range from unhealthy to toxic to harmful.
Using things like food, drugs, alcohol, or technology to unwind and take care of the self is not healthy.
There is a way to balance some of these activities as part of self-care.
However, more often than not, these behaviours are a form of numbing and self-medicating instead of self-care.
You’ve learned your needs are not important
We are taught lessons about our needs in different ways, some bold and some subtle.
For example, we might try to tell parents what we need and they ignore us.
They might respond to us with statements that neglect our self-knowledge, like, “No, you don’t need that” or “you don’t know what you need.”
We learn about our needs in our relationships with romantic partners, our friendships, and our encounters with authorities.
Everyone has basic needs which have to be met, like water, shelter, food, and love.
Beyond the primary necessities of needs, each person has needs unique to who they are.
When those needs are negated or neglected, we learn that not only are our needs not important but who we are isn’t important either.
Therefore, you learn that taking care of your needs doesn’t matter.
You have low self-esteem and low self-worth
Being shown that we and our needs are not important can be damaging to self-esteem, causing low self-worth.
Messages which teach us that we are not important can affect the way we see ourselves.
More impactfully, these messages can affect the way we believe the world sees us, which, would be very unimportant.
We cannot take care of ourselves when we don’t think that we deserve to be taken care of by ourselves.
We don’t feel worthy of the love and attention we could be positively turning toward ourselves.
Instead, we turn to other self-destructive behaviours because that is what we believe we deserve.
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Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked | October 19, 2021