When working to maintain recovery, treating your mental health is as important as addiction treatment. Substance use disorders often co-occur with mental health conditions and can feed off each other. Many people who struggle with mental health turn to alcohol or drugs to cope and using substances can cause or perpetuate mental health symptoms. Read our tips for prioritizing your mental health and keeping your recovery journey on track.
Identify your stressors. Stress is unavoidable; however, knowing what triggers your stress equips you with the ability to learn to cope more effectively and protect you from relapse. Being aware of the people places, things and feelings that trigger you allows you to develop a plan to be prepared when you face them.
Set clear boundaries. It’s okay to say “no.” A big part of recovery is prioritizing self-care and learning how to establish boundaries. Part of prioritizing your mental health is knowing when to put your needs first.
Get enough rest. According to Mental Health America, lack of sleep is linked to greater risks of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Stress and responsibilities like work or school can make it difficult to prioritize getting a good night’s rest. However, getting enough sleep each night – seven to nine hours for adults – is key to avoid changes in your mood.
Express your emotions. Maintain meaningful social connections with people you trust and allow yourself to express your feelings, even if it’s difficult. It may feel awkward initially but being open to receiving support will help you connect with other people and you might be surprised to see how many people care. If you aren’t ready to express your feelings face-to-face, keeping a journal is a great first step and can be helpful for working through your thoughts.
Find an outlet for your stress. Stress is inevitable, but you can choose how you manage it. Many people in recovery have relied on bad habits to release their stress in the past. Instead of returning to negative coping mechanisms, find an outlet you enjoy and incorporate it into your routine. Exercise is a wonderful stress reliever because it releases endorphins, which lift your mood. Additional positive outlets and coping skills include meditation, listening to music or calling up a friend for a chat.
Be kind to yourself. A lot of the negativity in our lives can come from our own negative self-talk. If you’re constantly putting yourself down and criticizing yourself, this will have an effect of your self-esteem and overall mental well-being. Try to catch these thoughts as they happen and work on not saying anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a good friend. This can help you develop more self-confidence and a positive outlook.
Seek help when you need it. It can be scary to ask for help. Many people are hesitant to ask for help due to barriers like stigma and the fear of being judged. The best way to prioritize your mental health is having the strength to ask for help.
CleanSlate provides mental and behavioral health treatment alongside treatment for addiction to address factors that often contribute to substance misuse. If you are looking for care without judgement, CleanSlate is here. Visit cleanslatecenters.com to find help near you.