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There is not one singular agreed-upon definition of self-care. Generally, self-care is about behaviors or activities that will help you monitor your health. For instance, getting checkups from your physician, eating healthy, exercising, or practicing skills to manage your emotions or behaviors can help you manage and maintain your health. Self-care encapsulates a holistic approach to treatment and overall health. It considers various impacts on health and how they all affect one another. In recovery, self-care can help you manage your emotions and overall wellness.

How to Practice Self-Care

Practicing self-care means being thoughtful about your health. It means making time in your busy schedule to attend to your mental and physical health needs. This requires you to be aware of all aspects of your health, including physical, mental, spiritual, social, and environmental factors. The practice of self-care can take on many different forms, from exercise to self-love.

Practicing self-care in recovery makes it easier to process your emotions, evaluate your thoughts, and maintain healthy habits because it forces you to slow down. To practice self-care, you need to think about how you are affected by your health and what you can change in your daily life to attend to it. There isn’t one right way to practice self-care, but some suggestions may include exercise, mindfulness, healthy eating, and relaxation.


One form of self-care is exercise. Exercise is good for both your mind and body. It can help you manage your moods and chronic health issues. Immediately after you exercise, you may feel stress relief from the adrenalin you gain from exercising. Exercising can also have positive effects on the following:

  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Physical ailments
  • Bone and muscle strength

When you think about exercise, you may picture a stuffy gym and strict workout routines. However, you don’t need to push yourself to your limit when you exercise or even join a gym. Exercising your body doesn’t need to be intensive. You can exercise in short periods of ten-minute intervals or through recreational activities. Exercise can take many forms, like hiking, walking, or dancing. 

Using exercise as a form of self-care means making time to move your body. It also means listening to what your body wants and needs. Sometimes your body may want more intense exercise, and other times your body may just want to stretch.


Performing self-care through mindfulness will help you de-stress and manage your emotional health. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. It can prevent you from obsessing over past mistakes or worrying about the unpredictability of the future. Mindfulness coincides with the practice of gratitude or finding gratefulness in the present moment. 

Practicing mindfulness as a part of self-care means using it to manage your emotions. When you’re feeling tense, make time in your schedule to connect with your feelings and yourself. It will help you better process your emotions and be aware of your thoughts and behaviors. 

Healthy Eating

What you put in your body can impact your mood and physical health. Eating healthy can be an ambiguous term. You want to eat in a way that makes you feel good. Some nutritionists believe in mindful eating. This means being aware of your physical and emotional signs of hunger. Eating healthily as a part of self-care might include meal planning or prepping, discovering a new recipe, or minimizing the snacks you keep around the house.


Practicing relaxation techniques is important for both your physical and mental health. Taking the time to practice yoga or meditate can increase your mobility and the flexibility of your muscles. De-stressing is important for emotional regulation. It allows you to tackle problems with a clearer mindset.

Creating Self-Love and Preventing Self-Hate

Making time for self-care can create self-love and prevent self-hate. It can prevent emotional spirals and remind you that it’s okay to make mistakes. Self-care is the best way to regulate your emotions when you’re feeling overwhelmed. It gives you a chance to break away from your chaotic, judgemental thoughts and provides you with an opportunity to find self-love.

Self-care goes hand in hand with self-love. Maintaining your mental health takes empathy and understanding. Self-care can create self-love because it requires you to pay attention to your needs. You must be kind to yourself to allow yourself to heal emotionally. 

Doing Things for You

When life becomes too overwhelming, sometimes you need to take a break and indulge in something you enjoy. Something that is just for you. This could be getting coffee from your favorite coffee shop or taking a hot bath.

Whatever you decide to do for yourself should be done with the intention of making yourself feel good. It should not be done with undertones of guilt. The best way to mitigate feelings of guilt is to plan time to indulge in the things you love. This prevents guilt from thinking about what you should be doing.

Self-care can be an important tool for managing physical and mental health during your recovery journey. There is no one right way to do self-care. It will take trial and error to learn what works best for you. Pathways Recovery Center provides a variety of modalities, such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, that can help you practice self-care and self-love. We will meet you where you are in your recovery journey by providing you with treatments and modalities that you connect with. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, call (888) 771-0966 today to find out how Pathways Recovery Center can help you along your journey.

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