The Difference Between Aftercare and Recovery
Upon the completion of a mental health treatment, most people create what’s called an aftercare plan or even a relapse prevention plan. These are tools and interventions that will continue to assist in the healing of the patient after treatment has completed. Usually, it gives a clear idea of what is necessary for this person to be successful in their journey.
Aftercare is so incredibly important, and it is also so often pushed to the side by clients. This action is often unconscious and occurs by accident, as no person decides to consciously jeopardize the progress that they have made.
I challenge my clients to extend their aftercare beyond what they can identify immediately that will help them to include all-encompassing recovery.
Recovery, defined by me anyways, entails so much more than not participating in your choice of maladaptive coping skill or thought pattern. Living in recovery means creating a life that you do not have to actively escape or shut down from. Essentially, being so invested in your own journey that you seek out healthy means of living.
When I work with people to create a recovery plan, we focus on a few different categories of lifestyle.
Your physical life:
What role does movement play in your life? What about exercise? Exploring these questions will help guide how to utilize each in your plan for recovery. Focusing on intentional and conscious movement shifts the focus of exercise as a means of loss to a means of gain.
Are you happy in your environment? If you discovered a love for minimalist design, perhaps look at redecorating your space to fit with what suits you best. Pay attention to colors and vibes that are attributed to the things you surround yourself with.
What is your reaction to physical health in regards to medicine? Perhaps you should consult with a physician or have a physical done if it’s been a while. Taking care of your body can mean so many things.
Your emotional life:
How do you plan to honor your emotional needs? This can mean therapy, journaling, support meetings, sponsorship, or any number of resources. Creating space to experience your emotions and cater to your needs will assist with being conscious of them.
What needs to happen for you to be comfortable exploring your emotional intelligence? Learning to truly feel your feelings takes time, space, and security. Every person requires a different set of standards to reach the level where emotions are free to come and go.
Do you feel confident in how to utilize your coping skills to their full effect? If you find happiness and belonging in sports for example, utilize this to its full extent. There is no shame in having out-of-the-box skills for emotional coping.
Your social life:
Where are you in regards to your boundaries? Should you practice saying yes or no in order for your life to be where you want it? Sometimes the focus of improving your life is making your yes’s mean yes and your no’s mean no.
Are you aligning yourself with those who parallel the person you’ve decided you are? As people grow and change, that sometimes means making decisions about who gets to stay in our lives.
Your spiritual life:
Are you practicing things that make you feel connected to the world? When we’re in active addiction or mental health episodes, it is so difficult to experience true belonging in our world. Spiritual connections tie you down to the world and connect you with things around you.
Can you name the things that feed your soul? Is it nature, animals, family, art, food, etc? These are the practices that fill us with contentment and peace. They keep us grounded in our self and allow for exploration and growth.
When creating a plan for your mental health recovery, consider what you need in each of these categories. Where is there room for growth? Building a life you love will help to generate motivation to continue doing healthy self-care and practices.