Written by: Sally Writes
There is an important link between the idea people have of themselves and their likelihood of abusing drugs. A 2018 study undertaken at Binghamton University found that people with low self-esteem are more likely to use opioids when they have health, family or romance-related problems. There is, likewise, a strong relationship between self-esteem and self-love. That is, those who view themselves negatively find it harder to be kind to themselves or reward themselves by doing the things they love or enjoy.
How you behave affects the way you think and feel; this is one of the fundamentals of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Don’t be surprised, therefore, if one of the tasks your therapists set during recovery, is doing something kind for yourself.
Self-love therapy is quickly gaining ground because kindness to oneself can provide the motivation required to stay committed to your recovery goals.
Despite the fact that self-love can indirectly boost your self-esteem, these concepts are very different. Self-esteem is based on the things you achieve; self-love and care do not have conditions attached to them. Self-loving acts are meant to reinforce the idea that you are worthy of good things in life, and that treating yourself can have powerful effects on your mood and motivation levels.
One aspect of self-love involves doing nice things for yourself – the kind you would do for a good friend. It may involve regularly updating your skincare collection, enjoying a soothing massage or having a facial once a month. It can mean having lunch at your favorite health food shop with a sibling or friend, or catching a deluxe cinema experience at your local theater. Essentially, it requires you to reach into yourself and think about the things that fulfill you.
Sometimes self-love is focused on work. For instance, you may find nothing more uplifting than working up a sweat at the gym, or perfecting your asanas at a yoga class. It’s all about embracing experiences, but its reach extends further and deeper.
A key component of self-love and care is to try to view yourself in a more positive light. A 2019 study undertaken at the University of Exeter has found that when you take time to think kind thoughts about yourself and those you love, you enjoy various benefits – including a calmer heart rate. The study author, Dr Hans Kirschner, stated that his findings suggested “that being kind to oneself switches off the threat response and puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that is important for regeneration and healing.”
During recovery, you may find that your therapists suggest a host of exercises that relax you and help you avoid stressful triggers. Self-love and care are two important ways to achieve greater tranquility. Giving yourself a pampering massage does more than soothe muscular aches and pains: it has deep calming effects, plus a wonderful mood-enhancing effect.
If one thing is clear about self-love and care, it is that each of us has a different idea of what it involves. From floating across a calm swimming pool to enjoying a Zumba class at the gym, whatever ignites your passion is truly food for the heart and soul.