Addiction Recovery - Treatment Professional

Including Self-Care in Client Recovery Plans

Self-care is invaluable in recovery. Including self-care when crafting a recovery care plan for your clients is crucial to recovery.

Including Self-Care in Client Recovery Plans

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

May 12, 2022

The Forge Recovery Center

Every client is unique and complex, needing individualized recovery plans. Treatment plans should involve self-care, an element often overlooked and misunderstood by people struggling with substance use disorder and/or a dual diagnosis.

However, self-care is essential for avoiding relapse

Defining Self-Care

When assessing your client's understanding of self-care, you might ask how they manage their well-being. You may find their answers to be focused on the bare minimum of eating, showering, and getting adequate (or not so adequate) rest. Educating your clients on self-care is the first step when developing an individualized self-care plan. 

Self-care involves taking proactive steps to avoid becoming sick or burnt out. Remind your clients of their need to be responsible for their behaviors and self-care. Making a plan is essential, but their enacting the program will help them balance their life and well-being.

How Does Stress Appear to Your Clients? There’s 3 Ways

There are three elements of stress that impact an individual's well-being:

#1. Physical Effects of Stress

Your clients experience stress in the same way you do. They may encounter various physical effects which can impact other areas of their wellness and vice versa. Experiencing stress often leads to tension in the muscles and headaches, causing hypertension and other adverse health effects. You may notice your clients complaining of restlessness or being more tired than usual.

Developing a proactive self-care plan with your client can help them alleviate or avoid extreme physical reactions to their stress levels.

#2. Emotional Effects of Stress

You can assess the emotional effects of stress by paying attention to your client's language. If your client expresses feeling down or uneasy, you might begin asking them about their stress levels and how they cope with stress. Discussing their emotions opens the door for developing an individualized self-care plan. 

Anxiety, hopelessness, and feeling out of control are just a few emotional symptoms of stress. Other symptoms can include feeling unworthy, overworked, underappreciated, and cynical about the world and how it relates to their personal lives. The emotional effects of stress can activate and aggravate symptoms of mental illness.

#3. Behavioral Effects of Stress

Feeling overwhelmed is a natural human response to stress. The reactions you have to stress through your behaviors can impact your stress levels. When you feel out of control or helpless, procrastinating and ruminating on your problems can happen frequently. When your clients engage in these behaviors, their risk of relapse increases because their behaviors are increasing their stress. 

As you look at the various effects of stress, the importance of developing individualized self-care plans cannot be emphasized enough. Stress and negative behavioral reactions to stress become a mutually reinforcing cycle that is difficult to break without external intervention.

Cultivating Compassion

Your clients have likely experienced avoiding emotions and engaged in behaviors over which they may have great shame and regret. Your clients may have limited self-compassion and a limited willingness to recognize they deserve to care for themselves. Everyone struggles to be compassionate toward themselves sometimes.

In today's world, people believe they need to be as good as everybody else, and if they are not, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking something is inherently wrong with them. 

People who have struggled with substance use disorder possibly experience this lack of self-compassion more than others. So, part of self-care involves cultivating compassion. Compassion is believing your clients have inherent value and helping them see they deserve compassion.

You can do this by helping them recognize they are more than a diagnosis and encouraging them to reflect on positive aspects of who they are and who they want to become.

Elements of a Self-Care Plan

Developing a self-care plan might require naming unhealthy strategies first. Your clients will recognize the ill effects of self-medicating to cope with their stressors. Encourage being proactive about their lifestyles. Encourage healthy eating, exercise, and adequate rest. Understand each client has different needs. The self-care plan needs to be individualized to each client's needs and interests.

Begin with the bare minimum of nutrition, exercise, and rest, but expand your client's abilities for coping through encouraging mindfulness, asking for help, hobbies, and being assertive about their needs and limitations. Your client can manage some stressors if they are willing to speak about them and explain their limitations. Setting boundaries is necessary for effective self-care.

Practicing self-care can be one of the most challenging things for anybody to do. Recognizing your worth and the need to put yourself first seems counterintuitive in a culture focused on achievement and being the best. As a result, many people self-medicate when they cannot reach the expectations of others, or the goals they set for themselves. 

You must model self-care and explain your methods of achieving well-being. By modeling and being willing to practice effective self-care, you teach your clients the value you have for yourself and them. Remind your clients that everyone needs to take care of themselves before they can effectively help others.

Self-Care Plans Are Essential In Helping Recovery From Addiction

At The Forge Recovery Center, we believe in the value of every one of our clients. We help them to see their value and develop self-care plans as they focus on their recovery. If you have a client struggling with alcohol abuse or other substances, help is available.

Contact The Forge Recovery Center to learn about our outpatient and partial hospitalization programs at and learn how we can help your client.

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