Self-Care in Recovery: 5 Strategies for Coping with the Effects of Trauma

Strategies for Coping with Trauma

Recovering from substance abuse is a challenging journey involving both physical transformation and mental and emotional healing. Often, individuals who suffer from addiction have experienced trauma along the way, which is an added burden on their recovery process. Incorporating self-care strategies into your recovery routine can have a profound healing effect on trauma — and promote long-term recovery at the same time. 

1. Develop a Daily Routine

Establishing a daily routine can help bring structure and predictability to your life, especially during the early stages of recovery. A routine can provide a sense of control and stability, which is particularly important for those dealing with the effects of trauma. By creating a routine that includes healthy activities, such as exercise, meditation, and regular meals, you can start to build a foundation for a balanced lifestyle that supports your recovery journey.

2. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Studies show that mindfulness and meditation have a substantial effect on mental wellness: They can reduce stress and anxiety, while increasing self-awareness and emotional regulation, for example. These practices can be particularly beneficial for individuals coping with trauma and working to overcome substance abuse. By incorporating mindfulness and meditation into a daily routine you can learn to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment, allowing you to better manage your emotions and reduce the likelihood of relapse. If sitting down to meditate isn’t for you, try a guided meditation on YouTube or even just go for a quiet, thoughtful walk. Even activities like cooking can be meditative, with the right mindset.

3. Engage in Physical Activity

Regular physical activity has numerous mental and physical health benefits, including reduced stress, improved mood, and increased energy levels. Exercise can also help individuals recovering from substance abuse to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Additionally, exercise has a positive impact on brain function and neuroplasticity, which can be particularly beneficial for those dealing with the effects of trauma. Choose activities you enjoy and can sustain over time, such as walking, swimming, or yoga.

4. Build a Support System

A strong support system is crucial for individuals in recovery, particularly those coping with the effects of trauma. Support can come in various forms, including friends, family members, therapists, and support groups. Connecting with others who have shared experiences can help to reduce feelings of isolation and provide a safe space to express your emotions. At the same time, you can learn coping strategies from others. It's essential to cultivate a support network that is understanding, non-judgmental, and invested in your recovery journey. Twelve Step fellowships are a great place to find that kind of connection, but church, clubs, and other organizations can help as well.

5. Seek Professional Help

Professional help can be invaluable for dealing with the effects of trauma and working toward recovery. In dual-diagnosis residential treatment, mental health professionals, such as therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, can provide guidance and support tailored to each individual's unique needs and experiences. Evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), are effective in addressing trauma-related symptoms and helping individuals in their recovery journey. Seeking professional help can be a critical component of a comprehensive self-care plan in recovery.


Recovery from substance abuse and the effects of trauma is an ongoing process, and self-care plays a crucial role in maintaining long-term sobriety. By prioritizing self-care, those in recovery can empower themselves to overcome the challenges associated with trauma and substance abuse, paving the way for a healthier and more fulfilling life. If you’re ready to start your road to health and happiness, call our admissions team for more information.