If you ever want to find yourself completely overwhelmed, try doing a Google search on the topic of “Self-Care”. Everywhere you turn, there are 12, 20, 32 or even 81 steps to Self-Care. You can begin to feel discouraged and frustrated, asking yourself “didn’t I begin this search with the intention of relaxation?”
Let’s help make it simple again. As the author Anne Lamott once said, “Almost everything will work again, if you unplug it for a few minutes – including YOU.”
Unplugging and Recovering
You find yourself able to breathe again at that simple word – UNPLUG. A disconnection. A break. A separation from the fully charged, electric mode of everyday life. For many of us, we leave ourselves plugged in all the time – no wonder experiencing burnout is such a big trigger for addiction.
Recovery from addiction can be overwhelming at times. Even those who seem to have experienced long seasons of success can still find themselves exhausted, overwhelmed, and brushing up against their danger zones in recovery. When emotions hit a high, it can quickly cause a direct detour to relapse and addictive behaviors – no matter how many warnings were firing off about your triggers.
Individuals in recovery often find themselves facing fresh emotions that you used to try to numb or escape from. You have finally allowed yourself to feel again; your capacity to experience life, beauty and pain is growing like a seedling fresh in the ground. In her book, Looking For Lovely, the author Annie F. Downs writes “my capacity to see beauty has increased in much bigger measure than the pain I felt. My ability to feel the depths of something good was strengthened by my choice to feel the depths of the pain…the more I hang on and feel, the more I am able to feel and each time more balm gets rubbed into the wounds of my soul…” Self-care is that balm for your soul – a course-correction back towards the path of health and healing you had been focused on since beginning your recovery journey.
Self- care doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process. It can be a re-integration of simple, every day steps that were once made foreign to you by your addiction. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself on a regular basis to ensure self-care is a part of your newly discovered routine:
- How is my mind? Do I need to reframe some thoughts or destress? Pay attention to the thoughts that you are having and determinedly shut-down the damaging self-tête-à-tête. Imagine hearing someone say those things about your loved ones instead of yourself. If you wouldn’t stand for it for them, don’t love yourself any less. Identify things that are upsetting to you that you can’t control and try to let go of those nagging negative feelings. Forward thinking is the key.
- How is my heart? Do I need to be assertive or direct with those in my close circle about what I am and am not capable of right now on my re-entry into life? Surround yourself with positive people who will build you up and encourage you. Stay away from negative people and set healthy boundaries for yourself. You’ll thank yourself for standing up for yourself in the end.
- How is my body? This is a big one! So much of healthy recovery is about our bodies – what we put into them, what we don’t allow in them and how we treat them. Have you showered today? A few moments in the clean water can do wonders for your mental state. Have you hydrated and eaten? Make the last thing you put in your body for the day the best thing you could choose. Have you taken your prescribed medications? Push the stigma aside and make sure you are following your aftercare plans, including all medications.
- Have you rested? Grab a book and a blanket and head outside on a beautiful day. It’s alright to say no, or to turn down a few invitations – especially if they do not fit your newly sober lifestyle. Build some downtime into your schedule. Relaxation is an important part of self-care.
- Have you recharged? Do you know how you best recharge? If you are introverted, you may find that your recharge comes from some alone time – maybe some yoga, meditation or journaling. For those extroverts, you find that you recharge best with conversation and surrounded by others. Don’t allow your former addictive behaviors to keep you isolated. For ambiverts, you have the best of both worlds. Fill up your emotional bucket halfway with a lunch or an outing and end your self-care with some Netflix and downtime at home. Not sure which one you are? Take this simple TED quiz to find out.
There is a vast canyon between being the self-centered person you were when you were influenced by substances or alcohol and taking care of yourself first so you can offer your very best to your loved ones.
Taking the Time
Take time each day to do at least one thing for you. Buy your favorite tea and a new favorite mug to go with it. Celebrate the small. Realize your self worth and make the everyday special. Not only will it help you stay sober, it will help you be present for your relationships and it will help you stay firmly planted in your addiction recovery.
Caring for yourself again is a learning process which will take time and patience. Feeling mentally, physically and emotionally can be frustrating, there is always a road home to the place you want to be. Start small and craft the self-care routine that works for you.
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