Importance of Physical Self-Care

Our body is an ultra-sophisticated machine which shelters our spirit and above all allows us to survive in the biological sense. It is therefore essential to take care of it. The importance of physical self-care definitely extends to all the physiological aspects of our health. This type of caring for oneself includes a wide range of habits to adopt in order to keep our body in perfect health. They include our diet, physical activity, our state of hydration and even our sleeping routine.   Improve your overall health: There is evidence that a number of self-care activities activate your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This means that your body enters a restful and rejuvenating mode, helping it to strengthen its immune system. Thus, with better self-care, there are often fewer infections and organs tend to function more properly. Improved self-esteem: When you regularly spend time meeting your own needs, you send a positive message to your subconscious. Specifically, in doing so, you treat yourself as if you are important and increase your sense of your own intrinsic value. This can go a long way in discouraging negative inner dialogue and a critical inner voice. Increased self-awareness: Self-care requires thinking about what you really like to do. The exercise of finding out what you are passionate about can also help you better understand yourself. Sometimes this can even lead to a career change or a redefinition of previously abandoned leisure priorities. Increased happiness: Happiness also triggers many other positive effects: The person becomes more open to others mentally and intellectually more available, they are able to manage stressful situations better and gain greater control over their lives.

Physical Well-Being

Physical activity is an essential part of self-care. It is essential not only for your body’s well-being but it also has many benefits to your psyche and even on your emotions and relationships. In addition, physical activity is the main guarantor of good health because it helps prevent cardiovascular diseases, as well as many types of cancer and obesity. Physical self-care also makes it easier to undertake the activities required by everyday life (climbing stairs, walking a long distance, etc.). And beyond its benefits on the physiological functioning of our body, it also helps to counter depression, social isolation and anxiety. Here are some important tips to take care of your physical self:

1. Eat regularly and healthily

The food we eat is the fuel of our body. A rich and varied diet that contains enough vitamins and antioxidants helps to reduce the risk of many diseases such as cancer and diabetes. It also helps to promote the functioning of our various organs including the brain, which allows better regulation of mood, and more controlled thought processes.  Drink enough water. (Most studies recommend drinking at least 8 cups a day).  Vary the food you eat – Eat enough fruits, vegetables, and fibers.  Limit your intake of refined sugars and processed foods.  Avoid an excess of alcohol.  Avoid toxic habits such as tobacco and drugs.

2. Exercise, dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, anything to get up and MOVE.

Whether it is a simple walk, a hike through the hills or a bike in the countryside, get up, get outdoors, and MOVE. For those looking for a greater challenge, sign up for a gym membership, join a dance class or learn a new sport. Whether you go on a solo run or enlist a friend to keep you motivated and accountable, taking responsibility for your physical movement can go a long way in securing mental stability.

3. Get enough sleep

Experts recommend engaging in 7-9 hours of sleep per night, especially for those in early recovery. Establishing consistent routines centered around going to bed at a decent time, and regulating when you wake can be one of the most beneficial things you do for your health.   

4. Rest when needed

Don’t let a busy schedule get in the way of taking care of your physical body. Whether it’s taking regular baths or scheduling a monthly massage, make sure to allow your body the downtime it needs. Of course, taking a vacation is not always feasible, but what about scaling the venture to something more manageable, either a ‘staycation’ at home or a ‘daycation’ somewhere local. When we don’t feel good, it is difficult to function well in other areas of life. Make sure to get regular medical care for the prevention of further illnesses, and to allow yourself to take time off work when you’re sick and seek the medical care you may need. If you missed it, make sure to read about The Importance of Self Care and check out the next part of the series on Psychological Self Care.  

Self-Care: Series Introduction

In the world where we live in, technology has evolved, mindless entertainment is prized, and work is prioritized to the point where many people do not have time to take care of themselves. Even if an individual might technically have “free time”, there is a pervasive notion in today’s society that self-care is a luxury, or an indulgence that cannot be afforded. The professional world is also becoming more demanding and stressful and it seems there is almost no room for kindness and mutual care. In addition, the physical, mental and social health of the rising generation seems to have dramatically downgraded, meanwhile stress, anxiety, and chronic fatigue are becoming normal and expected. Without a huge self-care effort, all these changes take place at the expense of our personal balance, our health and our well-being. The expression “self-care” is now omnipresent in the definitions of health and happiness. However, it often remains very poorly defined and misunderstood. So, what is it really about? What are its foundations? And why does inadequate self-care impair our well-being and our health? The purpose of this series is to answer all these questions and to help you get your life back on track. Definition of Self-Care: Despite its many definitions, well-being is often referred to as a balanced mental state linked to different factors that can be taken into account separately or jointly: health, social or economic success, pleasure, self-realization, and harmony with oneself and with others. All of these factors require continuous care to maintain them, as this maintenance effort is what we talk about when using the expression “self-care”. Many products on the market offer the false promise of providing the ultimate well-being; of bottling happiness and selling it “for just 3 easy payments of $19.95”. However, we all know that the main source of a person’s happiness lies within themselves. This means that there is no magic formula to feel good about yourself. Indeed, self-care is above all, a way of life. It is a set of factors that are intimately linked and interwoven with each other. This self-care effort includes all aspects of life. It is about the food we eat, how much work we do a day and sleep we get a night, but also about how we manage our stress, our thoughts, the relationships we have with our loved ones and the multitude of choices we make every day. However before detailing the main aspects of self-care, it must be remembered that one of the main excuses people have for ignoring self-care is that they just do not have the time. The good news is that there are many different self-care practices, and none of them are particularly difficult or require much planning. The trick is to find out what you really like and what fits your life and your values. Most psychology trends agree on six different areas of wellness which constitute the foundational pillars of this concept: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, relational and professional self-care. Assessment of these six areas is a crucial first step towards creating better self-care practices, as is the vulnerability and bravery to be honest about current habits. In beginning the assessment process, we recommend starting with a resource such as this one to begin thinking about your own self-care and to stay tuned for the next installment in our series: The Importance of Physical Self-Care.

5 Tips to Communicate with Assertiveness

Do you often find it hard to say no and have the fear of letting others down? Or have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve lost all control when trying to get your point across?  If so, you’re not alone. Perhaps even in the past, you’ve either relied on alcohol or other drugs to give you the courage to say what was necessary, or it was a state of intoxication that prevented you from truly effective communication. In fact, many people struggle to communicate their wants and needs clearly, and it can be difficult to walk that line between passive and aggressive communication. Aggressive communication involves a win-lose type situation, where the aggressor is solely focused on their own needs. This communication uses power and bullying to bulldoze over the interests of another. An aggressive stance can lead to dismissive acts, yelling, verbal abuse, and escalate any conversation to a heated argument. Passive communication is classically thought of as someone not standing up for themselves, and being walked over like a ‘doormat’. You may find yourself in a passive state when you are constantly saying yes or agreeing to things you don’t want to do, or “walking on eggshells” around someone else. Your wants and needs remain unexpressed which can turn into pent up frustration and pain. At times, this can turn into passive-aggressive communication when using manipulation, dropping hints, or relying on sarcasm to express unmet needs. Assertive communication attempts to find a middle ground by both acknowledging your own needs and the needs of others. Communicating with assertiveness can open up ways to be honest with others through means that are not meant to lead to conflict. This communication style is rooted in respect and boundaries and can take time to practice and implement.
  1. State the facts by explaining the situation that is frustrating you clearly without using stigmatized words. This allows the other person to hear what the problem is, and becomes the foundation for the conversation at hand.
Instead of: “There are dirty dishes everywhere and you’re just sitting there being lazy”. Try: “We had agreed last night that you would wash the dishes and I’ve noticed they are not done yet”.
  1. Use “I” statements to hold back judgement and avoid placing the responsibility for your feelings onto others. This helps lessen blaming so the other person does not feel attacked and instead shifting to sharing your feelings.
The general formula for success is “I feel _____ when ____ happened”, although as this becomes incorporated into your skill set, it begins to feel more natural. Instead of: “You don’t even care about me, all you do is play your video games”. Try: “I feel hurt and like I’m not a priority to you when I have to ask for your attention”.
  1. Collaborate together in order to problem solve with the other person. This shows that you are not wanting to fight, but instead work towards a mutual solution.
Instead of: “I keep trying to tell you this isn’t going to work”. Try: “How can we work together to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”
  1. Acknowledge the feelings of others by reflecting what the other person is saying or experiencing. This does not mean that you need to agree with them or change your point of view, but it can increase understanding and connection.  
Instead of: “You’re being a jerk”. Try: “I see that you have been stressed at work, and I know how difficult things have been with the new boss lately”.
  1. Set clear boundaries that reflect your values and determine what behavior is acceptable and what is not. Be willing to stand up for yourself and say “no” when needed. This teaches the other person what is appropriate around you.
Instead of: Listening to someone yell at you over the phone or in person. Try: “I do not think that this conversation is helpful right now, let’s come back to it when we’re both calm”. Practicing assertiveness can help you feel empowered to share your experience, build self-esteem, and strengthen relationships. It is important to be mindful of tone, posture, and gestures so you are communicating from a place of calm. This is a skill that is essential to master in recovery, and can be a part of getting your life back on track after relapse. Note* Assertive communication does not guarantee positive results as some people may not respond well to you being assertive. It is essential to consider your safety when talking to others, especially in abusive situations.  It can help to learn and practice these skills with an experienced therapist within a safe therapeutic space. Learn about how we’ve structured our sober living to help you structure your life after addiction.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that is goal oriented and focused on correcting an individual’s maladaptive thoughts and core beliefs that leads to a whole host of emotional problems, including anxiety, depression and anger, and behavioral problems that follow: not wanting to get out of bed, getting into fights, or deciding to use substances. This kind of treatment helps individuals understand how their thoughts and feelings impact their behavior. An individual will learn to understand the cognitive model by working with a therapist or counselor, and learn to identify the roots of negative aspects of their own life which can be positively improved through its use. The goal of this treatment is to show individuals that despite their inability to control every aspect of their surroundings, they can control how they interpret these interactions and how they choose to deal with them. Changed Perceptions Feelings of stress can easily influence behavior and can distort one’s perception of reality. The aim of CBT is to identify such harmful thoughts and employ strategies of challenging and overcoming them. The cognitive model focuses on three components in order to help conceptualize a problem or situation: thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and it is often depicted with each representing a point on an equilateral triangle. Viewed this way, one can easily understand how each of the elements impact one another, and it helps to provide a framework from which to discuss one’s reaction to any situation. The core belief of CBT is that (1) by becoming aware of your negative, often automatic, thought process, (2) you will be able to view challenges in a much clearer way and (3) respond to them more effectively. It is through slowing down one’s reactions to any given situation that they are able to gain more agency over their life and be able to operate in new ways. Therapy Sessions The therapist’s role is to explain the interaction between these elements, and will ask for the client in the session to break down their current difficulty into the thoughts and core beliefs that fuel their reactions. In analyzing these areas and in determining what effect they are having on the individual, they can now help them to identify their negative thoughts that are contributing to negative emotions and behaviors, and also to identify new, more appropriate thoughts. This may involve asking important questions such as, “Is this thought true?” or “Is this thought helpful?”, or learning about the common cognitive distortions, or thinking traps that one might fall into. CBT is especially helpful in clients in recovery to help recognize and avoid or cope with triggers that in the past have led to substance abuse. Using CBT, a therapist can help train an individual to dismiss faulty belief structures that perpetuate substance use, as well as provide tools to better regulate emotions and teach effective communication. At Riviera Recovery, we understand the importance of continued counseling throughout all stages of the recovery process, as well as using modalities that are evidence-based and proven to be effective. Call today at 1-866-478-8799 to learn more about our program!