Starting in treatment, you may hear the phrase “self-care” tossed around quite a bit. You’ll likely hear about it in meetings and in groups. When you get a sponsor, he or she may also bring up the topic. If you’re like most people just coming back from active addiction, you’ve probably never heard of this before. So what does it all mean? And why is it so important?
Self-care basically means taking control of your own well-being. It means doing things that improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. It also means keeping yourself safe. Self-care will look differently to each person, but there are some universal things that each of us should be doing on a regular basis.
So what happens when you don’t take care of yourself? It’s easy to neglect our own care. We are busy. We may be overworked or be caring for family members. We may be doing things that are detrimental to our health. When self-care goes out the window, we suffer. We may be tired or have a lack of energy. We may feel overwhelmed and stressed and not know why. We may gain or lose weight or not sleep well. Left unchecked, lack of self-care will show itself in our attitudes toward others. When you are depleted and worn out, you are less patient. You may grow resentful and irritable. In the case of extreme neglect, you may find that you are becoming ill or are engaging in negative behaviors.
Self-care in recovery is a big deal. This is why you hear about it so much. Lack of self-care leads to relapse.
No matter how busy you are, you can set aside time each day to care for yourself. Even if it’s only ten minutes, you can choose to spend some time nurturing your body, mind and soul. Here are some quick ways to do this:
Now, it’s always nice to indulge or treat yourself once in awhile, but don’t confuse “feel good” activities with self-care. Going to the mall and buying stuff you can’t really afford, or don’t really need isn’t self-care. It’s splurging, and while it’s fun to do now and then, it’s no substitute for true self-care. Neither is a banana split. These are things that give you a quick, feel good fix. There’s nothing wrong with that, but just know it’s not self-care.
How often do you say “yes” to things when you’d rather say “no?”
If you feel like you are overwhelmed by life’s demands, constantly stressed and feeling like people are taking advantage of you, then you are not practicing good boundaries. Likewise, if you feel down on yourself because you can’t seem to keep everyone happy, and there’s not enough hours in the day for everything you have to do, then you are not caring for yourself.
You have to set boundaries, or you will end up depleted. Say “No” more often. The people who matter will understand. If you tend to get taken advantage of, try saying no. You’ll often find that people respect you more when they know they can’t get away with it. If you struggle with codependency, you can get help for it. Working a good program of recovery and the twelve steps can help, but if you are really struggling, there are groups just for people with codependency issues. When you need help with something and ask for it, that’s also good self-care.
Don’t neglect your recovery, or you may risk it. Going to meetings, hanging out with sober friends and being of service are all ways to tend your recovery and care for yourself.
Don’t make the mistake of running yourself ragged with service commitments and driving people all over the place to meetings, either. Find balance. There are plenty of people who have burned themselves out trying to be recovery superstars. They didn’t practice good self-care, and just ended up feeling exhausted and resentful.
Remember, there’s no reason not to do something for your self-care each day. Exercise, fuel your body with quality food. Read a book. Take a hot bath. Call a friend that lifts you up, and make time for your recovery. Only you know what the best type of self-care is for you, just be sure you do it!
Todays’ blog was a guet post by Rose Lockinger. Rose is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.