When in active addiction, one of the first things people lose is the ability to care for themselves. Whether it’s physically, emotionally, or spiritually, a substance abuse disorder takes up more and more time in your life. Other priorities fall away. Addiction lies to you and tells you that your substance of choice is the answer to all of your problems, and essential self-care such as taking medications, practicing good grooming, and even prayer or meditation fall away.
So what is self-care, anyway? Simply put, self-care is when you place your needs first, addressing your mental, physical or spiritual well-being in simple and effective ways. How can you take care of yourself? There are many simple ways to grab a moment of peace and attend to your needs. Here are a few examples to build on. (Once you’ve finished this article, why not make a short list of your own?)
- Sit outside and listen to the birds. This is a great way to practice mindfulness and help concentrate on your surroundings instead of any inner turmoil.
- Take a long bath. If you’ve had a long day, lighting incense or soaking in some Epsom salts can help your body and mind relax.
- Get enough sleep. If you’ve been having trouble getting enough rest, go to bed well ahead of your regular time. Sleeping in late will not help you set good habits.
- Take walks. Just getting 60 minutes of exercise a week will boost moods, and it’s easy to accomplish with only 20 minutes, three times a week.
- Read a good book. Reading will help you sit quietly, and fiction can transport you to new worlds. Nonfiction and self-help are also an excellent way to learn to create new habits. Give yourself time to read each day, even if it’s just on the bus to and from work.
- Listen to your favorite music. Music is especially helpful during the part of the day where you feel tired or “in a funk.” Music can help lift your moods and re-energize your day.
- Do at least one pleasurable thing a day. A lot of people in recovery want to be all work and no play, but this is what causes a ton of stress and rewards will take time. Give yourself a healthy reward every day.
- Try journaling. You don’t have to write a book, but try to get your feelings out. Some people find that they prefer to doodle or draw in a journal, while others enjoy chronicling their day.
- Spend time with your pets. Studies have shown that pet owners can de-stress by merely playing or petting their favorite animal. Take 15 minutes to play or cuddle with your companions.
- Pray or meditate. This will help you connect with your higher power or yourself, and there are plenty of ways to do this. If you’re not sure the best way to do this, there are many books and videos online (try Youtube) to find a way that makes you feel comfortable. There is no “wrong” or “right way” to do this.
Recovery is a journey, and along the way you’ll find many tools to help you. If any of the above suggestions don’t work for you, that’s fine. Keep what you need and leave the rest.
One of the best and easiest ways to practice self-care is simply reaching out for help –whether you’re speaking with your therapist, sponsor, or a friend. Talk to somebody when you’re feeling bad. A burden shared is a burden lessened.
Are you or somebody you love still in active addiction? There’s help available. Find out more about your treatment options by giving us a call at 866-227-1437. We’re here to help you start your journey, and all calls are 100% confidential.