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Substance Use and Mental Health Disorder Educational Blog

5 Best Ways To Take Care Of Your Mental Health In Recovery

ways to take care of your mental health
This entry was posted in Health & Wellness, Recovery on by .

A fantastic way to promote good mental health is to engage in self-care. But self-care isn’t just sheet masks and pedicures, it’s taking care of yourself, mind, body, and spirit. If you have been neglecting yourself you may not even know how to engage in self-care. Keep reading for ways you can foster good mental health while in recovery.  


Addiction is tough on our bodies, and if you’re fresh into your recovery a great way to start caring for your body is to do some physical activities with it. It is proven that physical activity, or exercise, is as effective for moderate depression as an anti-depressant medication. But that doesn’t mean you need to hit the weight stacks at your local gym (although that’s also awesome if you do!) it could be as simple as a daily walk or bike ride. Many local recreation centers have drop-in fitness classes available like spin or high-intensity interval training. If you are looking to practice mindfulness full body stretching practices like Tai-chi or Yoga are great ways to keep you focused on your body, breathing, and keeping your mind in the present. Even dancing in your living room to music all by yourself is good for you, and you don’t even need to leave your house! Team sport is also an excellent way to be active, and also build community. If you don’t feel coordinated enough for soccer or slow-pitch you can try pickle ball, curling, cornhole, or even roller derby.


It’s no secret that the food we eat affects our mood, and your brain in recovery will benefit from a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients. You may have been eating much less before your treatment program, or not eating foods with enough nutrients. When our brains don’t produce enough neurotransmitters, like dopamine, we can feel irritable and anxious. Eating nutrient-rich foods can help ease your withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings by helping your brain produce dopamine. It can even help prevent you from relapsing! Often people who are recovering from substance abuse have vitamin deficiencies, during your first year of recovery your nutrition needs will be higher than normal and you must feed yourself healthy foods daily.

 Food shouldn’t replace drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, so you’ll want to avoid caffeine and refined sugar as much as possible since they also produce highs and lows.  A diet for recovery should include:

  • Complex carbohydrates, which means plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables (50-55% of your daily calories)
  • Two to three cups of dairy or other foods rich in calcium such as kale, tofu, or calcium-fortified beverages
  • Moderate amounts of protein, either lean meats like fish or tofu (15-20% of your daily calories)
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil, canola, flax, and those found in fish, seeds, and nuts (30% of your caloric intake)

It’s also very important to stay hydrated on your road to sobriety. Dehydration affects our cognitive performance and mood, two very important aspects of staying in recovery. 


Even after decades of sleep research, the exact reason why we sleep remains unanswered. We do know, however, that sleep affects every system in our body. Many parts of our brain are involved in producing the hormones and chemicals that regulate our sleep, and wakefulness. You may have even heard of REM(rapid eye movement) sleep, and how it is crucial for the brain. And that’s true! REM sleep is essential to your cognitive function, it’s also where you dream. Alcohol and drug use can drastically impact your ability to enter the REM stage of sleep. 

 Getting enough quality sleep is often a make-or-break for recovery from many illnesses, and it’s even more critical for those recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. It may not surprise you to learn that those with co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD are impacted even more by the psychological effects of sleep deprivation. But not to worry, there are things that you can do to improve the quality and duration of your sleep, such as

  • Creating a sleep-inducing bedroom by taking away distractions like TV and gaming consoles
  • Optimizing your sleep schedule by having a fixed wake-up time, and identifying a target bedtime
  • Creating a pre-bed routine that includes disconnecting from tech, and relaxation stretching
  • Dimming the lights in your house before bedtime
  • Don’t toss and turn, if you haven’t fallen asleep in 20 minutes get up and practice low-light relaxation techniques
  • Invest in a quality mattress, and choose sheets and pillows that suit your needs while giving comfort

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

Social and Community Support

During your rehabilitation program, you may discover that relationships you previously valued are in fact, toxic. It is important during your recovery to surround yourself with love and positivity, and that may mean disconnecting from people who don’t support your sobriety. Walking away from a toxic relationship may even be the key to your recovery, as emotional trauma is one of the many factors that contribute to substance use disorders. Building a network of support is crucial to avoiding relapse, and a great way to do that is to join a community addiction recovery group. You’ll have the benefit of others who understand what your road to recovery is like having been there themselves. It’s also important to continue therapy sessions, which provide insight and professional support and can help you work through any guilt or shame that lingers from your time before rehabilitation. Organizations like the Secular Organizations for Sobriety specialize in peer support after rehab, you are not alone in your fight to stay sober. At any given time over 20 million Americans are living with addiction. 


You’ve done the hard task of rehabilitation, and are now in recovery. You’ve connected with addiction experts, and have completed multiple therapy sessions. It’s important to keep up the good work you have done by practicing mindfulness, which means living in the present moment. It is tough not to ruminate about the past, or worry about the future, but mindfulness can help silence intrusive worrying. Practicing mindfulness can be done in a multitude of ways, journaling, meditation, radical acceptance, and gratitude exercises. However you choose to practice, mindfulness can benefit you by reducing symptoms of depression and stress. Meditation is particularly effective at increasing your mindfulness, studies show that people who meditate are happier and healthier than those who don’t. You may have even tried meditation previously, but didn’t find it helpful then. Like every other skill, mindfulness takes practice and time. Research involving those recovering from addiction shows that mindfulness allows a person to pause, identify their craving, accept their emotions without judgment, and allow the craving to disappear, simply from an acknowledgment of the feeling. There are many fantastic guided meditations available from a wide variety of professionals to help you process what you are feeling and experiencing in your body.   

No matter how you decide to take care of your mental health in recovery the first step is always reaching out. Contact us if you or someone you love is living with drug or alcohol addiction. You are irreplaceable to your loved ones, start your journey to better health today.

  • As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.

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Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. Before making any decisions on your physical or mental health, please consult your doctor. The staff at Magnolia Recovery Center will work with our patients on a custom diagnosis and care plan. Specific medical advice will be provided to our patients while in our care.