Mental health and addiction recovery are very closely related — so close, that the state of someone’s mental health is often a make-or-break factor in their ability to successfully go through rehabilitation and maintain long-term sobriety.
Going through addiction recovery, though, is likely one of the hardest things a person will ever go through. Between having to detox, manage withdrawal symptoms and work on transitioning into and rebuilding their new sober life, many people neglect prioritizing their mental health out of sheer exhaustion.
But mental health should not be so easily dismissed, and sobriety is about so much more than not abusing substances anymore; it’s a time to achieve true balance, health and joy in your life.
In this article, we’re going to break down exactly why making your mental health a top priority is so important, as well as give you six ways you can begin taking care of your mental health in addiction recovery today.
Why prioritizing mental health matters
Mental health plays an ongoing, important role in addiction recovery, from when you first enter rehabilitation all the way through to your new and improved sober life.
One of the primary reasons taking care of your mental health is so important is that it’s often the state of your mental health that enables you to either experience boredom and disappointment post-recovery or find joy and fulfillment in sobriety.
In addition, when you encounter challenges — perhaps you had to release a relationship from your previous lifestyle, are struggling to find employment or relapsed — it’s the state of your mental health that will either encourage you. That encouragement can be for better or for worse, to get back up and keep going, or to stay down and fall further.
The state of your mental health is going to be one of the most powerful influences both in and out of your recovery; that’s why it needs to be well taken care of.
Caring for mental health in recovery
Taking care of your mental health is an essential practice that needs to be prioritized in order to best equip yourself to not only have a successful recovery, but also enable yourself to conquer future temptations and maintain long-term sobriety.
Here are our top six ways to take care of your mental health in addiction recovery:
1. Tend to emotional needs
Many people turn to substances as a way of coping with some sort of discomfort, pain or struggle in their life. This often happens because they lack the proper tools to process their emotions in a healthy, productive way.
Learning how to tend to your emotional needs typically includes learning how to feel your emotions (even the uncomfortable ones), validating what you feel and developing healthy methods to process and release.
2. Move your body daily
Not only is daily movement good for you on a cardiovascular level, but it’s good for your mind as well. Exercise releases “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, can relieve stress and anxiety and reduces the likelihood of countless illnesses.
Exercise should be something you enjoy, not something you dread, so experiment with a variety of different activities (think outside the box!) to find one or several that you’d enjoy doing daily, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
3. Prioritize your sleep
When you consistently sleep poorly, it negatively influences your mental health. Your sleep pattern is more delicate than most people realize, and countless things can prevent you from having a restful night including—eating late, consuming alcohol or an abundance of sugar, as well as being on blue light-producing technology before bedtime.
Creating a low-stimulation “wind down” routine before going to sleep can greatly benefit the strength of your sleep.
4. Remember spiritual self-care
Spiritual health is an often-overlooked area of health, but one that’s equally as important as your physical, emotional and mental health. It’s up to you what direction you want to take your spirituality in; this is more so about deepening your understanding and relationship with yourself. Thus, enabling you to go through life with a deeper sense of appreciation and happiness.
5. Build a healthy social life
More often than not, substance addiction causes unhealthy relationships to develop. Part of your recovery process is going to include letting go of those relationships and focus on building and rebuilding healthy, sustainable, positively influential relationships.
6. Reach out for additional support
After months or even years of abusing substances, addiction becomes a way of life for many. The transition out of addiction, through recovery, and into sobriety is a challenge, but it’s not one you have to go through alone.
At Real Recovery, we believe in individualized, full-spectrum care, which is why we’ve built a compassionate team of medical professionals to walk with you every step of your journey.