The Role of Self-Care in Problem Gambling Recovery

Trying to gather your life back together and overcome problem gambling can be extremely difficult. Professional treatment can help you confront the problem head-on and mend things with your loved ones, while resources like Gamblers Anonymous can provide essential peer support. However, developing good self-care habits is vital for your own sake. Here’s what you should know about self-care and how it can help you during your recovery process.

Self-Care Provides a Distraction

Even if you aren’t a professional gambler playing poker for a living, the world can suddenly seem dull and lifeless when you’ve stopped gambling. Many people feel lost and start looking for something else to fill their free time, which is where self-care habits come in. The next time that you’re tempted to engage in problem gambling behavior, try these self-care ideas:

  • Read a book or watch a movie (gambling books can be helpful but aren’t required).
  • Practice deep breathing exercises or meditation.
  • Write in a journal or use a journaling app.
  • Spend time playing with pets.
  • Pamper yourself with a spa day, get a mani-pedi, or head to the salon or barbershop.
  • Grab a jigsaw puzzle, Rubik’s cube, or something else that promotes mental stimulation.
  • Get moving! Go for a walk, run, hike, or bike ride.
  • Listen to music (dancing is optional but highly encouraged).
  • Get creative with arts and crafts. YouTube has millions of craft ideas to try.
  • Pick up a new hobby or dust off an old one.
  • Check out local concerts, art shows, food markets, and other fun community events.
  • Have a fun night out with loved ones (karaoke, shopping, mini-golf — the sky’s the limit!).
  • Declutter your living space. Clean room-by-room if you’re overwhelmed.
  • Cook or bake something new or something you haven’t made in a while.
  • Find a cause you’re passionate about and research volunteer organizations in your area.
  • Join a book club, sports league, singles club, or another social group (being mindful of any possible gambling urge triggers).

Self-Care Creates Good Habits

Taking time to engage in self-care is healthy for everyone, especially people dealing with problem gambling. By replacing formerly negative habits with self-care habits that are healthy, comfortable, or mentally stimulating, you’ll create a healthier lifestyle. Plus, not only is having good habits beneficial for your mental health, but it also allows you to reach your life goals faster!

Self-Care Provides Opportunities to Reflect

Many psychologists and social scientists theorize that self-care activities do more than just allow us time to unwind and relax. They also provide valuable space for thinking and reflecting. Whether you’re engaging in a hobby, spending time with a pet, going for a jog, or just relaxing in the bath, self-care will give you much-needed time to consider your recovery journey. Some people use the time to brainstorm future changes that they want to make, while others use it to think about how to repair their relationships with loved ones. There’s no “wrong way” to think during self-care, so it’s definitely worth it to devote time to doing so!

Self-Care Leads to Greater Self-Confidence

The problem-solving and self-reflection involved with self-care activities can help you rebuild confidence in yourself during recovery, which will help you stand strong against the urge to relapse. The more you’re able to resist the temptation to redownload that betting app or head to the casino, the more you’ll believe in your ability to make permanent changes to your behavior — and the easier it’ll be to resist temptation in the future!

Gambling Problem? Call Now to Get Help

If you have a gambling problem, take action now and change your future for the better. Call our toll-free, confidential hotline at 800-GAMBLER anytime. We are here 24/7 to provide support, advice, connections to resources, or simply a listening ear. Pick up the phone now and commit to making tomorrow brighter than today!


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