Self-care, an essential service to yourself

Making time for yourself in today’s busy world is often a challenge – and this is even worse for active addicts whose entire focus is on finding their next drink or hit.

Karen Griessel, a social worker at Johannesburg’s Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre, says an addict’s life is consumed with not only finding and using their alcohol, drug or pill of choice, but with thoughts of getting clean. “It is a continuous sick cycle that is their constant priority,” she says.

Taking care of themselves falls by the wayside, she adds.

“Once the recovery process has started, self-care becomes critical. Physical care – such as personal hygiene – is easy to achieve but emotional self-care is more complex.

“Let us be honest – all of us struggle to find the balance between looking after ourselves and getting through work, family and community obligations.

Karen says the intrinsic characteristics of kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness are vital when it comes looking after yourself holistically.

“During active addiction, individuals used drugs or alcohol to deal with stress, cope with life or to handle emotions so it is important for them to find new and healthy life and coping skills.

“Recovered addicts will have less chance of relapsing if they have a balanced lifestyle and a holistic sense of overall wellbeing: emotionally, physically and psychologically. This will empower them to fight off depression and anxiety, maintain positivity and reduce triggers and cravings,” she says.

Self-care tips:

  • Practise mindfulness, which is the conscious awareness of experiences by staying present.
  • Stay connected and have a healthy support structure.
  • Look for interests, opportunities and ideas and follow your goals and dreams.
  • Keep active by exercising because this naturally increases happy hormones.
  • If you need medical or psychological care, do not procrastinate – just do it.
  • Get enough sleep and follow a healthy diet to reduce stress.
  • Be aware of your negative states, like being hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
  • Make sure to maintain healthy boundaries if you feel irritated or uneasy.
  • Have fun and laugh a little and make sure you stop and smell the roses.
  • Reach out and ask for help if you need to.

Based in Johannesburg, Wedge Gardens offer holistic rehabilitation for the body, mind and soul. Find out more at

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