It’s very important to take care of yourself now that you are clean and sober and working hard on your recovery. Focusing on yourself, especially in early recovery, can be vital to your success. Recovering from addiction is hard work; it takes a lot of mental focus, it can be emotionally and physically draining, and people in recovery need to recommit to their health and their future every day. It can be truly exhausting in many ways, and all in recovery from addiction need to recognize that and act accordingly in ways that optimize their health and happiness.
It’s often said that addiction is, in some ways, a disorder of self-centeredness and selfishness, and the new you certainly doesn’t want to be either of those things anymore. However, although it may seem to you to be selfish to focus on yourself first and foremost, it’s very important that you do just that. The bottom line is this: you simply have to help yourself before you can be of any good to others. There is a big difference between being the self-centered person you were when you were using drugs or drinking, and taking care if yourself so you can offer the best you to the people that you love. By practicing self-care every single day, you can continue to improve, heal, and put your best foot forward in all situations.
Creating a Self-Care Plan
It’s important that you actually create a Self-Care Plan to refer to during difficult times. If you follow the plan you set forth and stick to it, you may actually find that the difficult times become fewer and farther between, and you start to feel better and more together on the whole. In creating this plan, be sure to address all areas: you will surely face physical difficulties, experience emotionally and psychologically trying times, and encounter social obstacles as well. Write down a list of things you can do to remedy problems in each of these areas as they arise, and also include new habits you can create to keep positive and healthy on all fronts. Set goals, and take steps to get there. Refer back to your list periodically and make sure you are covering all areas of self-care; if you find you are feeling unbalanced, something is likely missing from your plan. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on a healthy and productive Self-Care Plan.
- Get regular exercise, and lots of it. Exercise helps us in so many ways. Not only do people who exercise regularly improve their strength and endurance, they also sleep better, eat better, and breathe better, too. Exercising improves our mood by releasing endorphins that make us happier. Going for a run or attending a yoga class can turn your entire day around.
- Eat healthy. Eating foods that are good for you can also help you feel better overall. Healthy carbohydrates provide our bodies with energy. Protein helps the construction, function, and regulation of our tissues and organs. Fats help us absorb the vitamins in foods. A balance of these three macronutrients is vital in our bodies and eating healthy foods is a foundational piece of taking good care of yourself.
- Get plenty of sleep. Getting a lot of quality sleep can be very helpful to your overall happiness and health, especially in recovery. Most adult Americans do not get enough sleep each night and their health, mood, and focus can suffer greatly as a result. Make sure you get the right amount of sleep for you, and don’t be afraid to take a nap if you need one.
- Spend time outside. It’s amazing how much being outside can change your mood. Getting fresh air and noticing all the wonderful things the natural world has to offer is great for our minds, bodies, and souls. Try to spend some time outside each day, breathe deep, and go for a walk. You’ll be surprised to see how much just a few minutes outside can change your day and overall attitude.
- Have fun. Don’t just sit around, do stuff, and have fun! Participate in activities like walking, jogging, biking or playing sports. Or, sit somewhere quiet and read or play a game with a friend. “Fun” is different for everyone, but be sure to make a point to make having fun a part of your life as much as you are able. Participating in activities that you find enjoyable will improve your mood and will give you a much needed energy boost as well.
- Be sure to take time to relax and recharge. It’s so easy to get caught up in such a plethora of activity that we end up running out of time for just sitting and watching the world go by. While being active is good for you in so many ways, being sure to give yourself some down time is important too.
- Find balance. Life can be very demanding and often comes at us from every angle all at once. We all have so many responsibilities, and at times they can almost seem to be too much to handle! Try to cultivate a fairly even balance amongst the things that are important to you; if you spend too much time on one branch of your life, then the other areas that are important to you may suffer. Be conscious of how much attention you give each area, and try not to overload yourself by throwing off the important balance between these things.
- Meditation is good for you. Set aside some time each day to breathe deep and focus the mind. This sort of slow down is necessary to help your mind recharge; you will be amazed by the benefits of meditation once you get into the groove of a regular practice.
- Practice mindfulness. Being mindful of your feelings and thoughts, the world around you, and what you say and do during each day can be a energizing and deeply moving practice. Take time each day to sit and just be, and take it all in.
- Laugh and cry. Don’t be afraid to experience your emotions and share them with others. We are all living and therefore feeling beings and it’s important that we express ourselves, even if it makes us feel vulnerable.
- Journaling. Writing, particularly when done on a regular basis, can be a powerful part of your self-care plan. Getting your ideas on paper, whether they be about current events or things you have experience in the past, can really help you grow as a person and can help you learn a great deal about yourself, too.
- Be creative. Participating in any sort of creative expression can be freeing and relaxing and can also be a huge part of a self-care plan. Whether you are musical, a dancer, a painter, or some other sort of artist, or even if you do not think you are any of those things, expressing yourself creatively can be great for the mind and can help you spread your wings in ways you perhaps couldn’t otherwise.
- Love yourself. Stop the negative self-talk and be good to yourself. Everyone gets down on himself or herself every once in a while, but if you find yourself doing it frequently, that’s not healthy. Give yourself love and in turn, you will be able to give it more easily to others.
- Spend time with people you love. Humans are social creatures, and it is important and healthy to spend time with other people whose company you enjoy and who mean something to you. In recovery it is so easy to shut yourself off from others, but surrounding yourself with friends when possible is a big part of self-care for many of us.
- Don’t overschedule. However, on the other hand, it’s also important not to overschedule yourself when it comes to being social. There is much to be said for quiet alone time, and some people need more alone time than others. Gauge what you need for you, and plan accordingly.
- Find support. Continue to attend support groups and befriend others who are also working on their recovery. It’s always good to have people to talk to who have experienced obstacles similar to yours.
- Set boundaries. Be verbal and vocal about setting boundaries with certain friends and in certain social situations. Awkwardness can often be easily avoided with just a few sentences; people don’t always know what you want and need unless you go ahead and tell them.
- Take time off work when needed. Don’t be afraid to take time off from work if you need it and use your vacation days and sick days. Sometimes everyone needs a break. Be aware of when you do; self-care is many faceted, and sometimes a day off is all you need to reset yourself back to where you need to be.
Although it would be great to immediately incorporate each and every one of these suggestions into your life, it is probably impossible to add them all at once! Therefore, create your Self-Care Plan from just a few of these to start. Over time, slowly add a few more, and a few more still. Keep the options that you like and that you feel add value to your life, and refer back to the list periodically anytime you feel that something is missing.
Again, although focusing on yourself may feel selfish in some ways, it is really something that is important for all of us. By practicing self-care, you will feel better, and as a result, you will have more to offer to the world, and will also be more likely to stay on the healthy and happy path to recovery.
At Clear Sky Recovery, we would love to help to get you on the path to recovery so that you can start feeling better soon! Our intake specialists are standing by, waiting to hear from you, to discuss ibogaine and ibogaine treatment at our facility in Cancun, Mexico. Please give us a call today to discuss your specific situation and to learn about the ways we can work together with you to help take back your life.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.