This article is by April Smith and published by recovery.org
Fresh out of rehab, I was determined stay sober and make up for all of the time I’d lost drinking. My schedule was packed; I went to meetings every day and attended school full-time. My body was still recovering from the toll alcohol had taken on it, and the medication I was on for anxiety relief left me even more tired. I was unemployed and living off my savings, so I worried constantly about money.
My attempts to maintain this hectic schedule left me stressed and on the verge of a breakdown. I needed a way to relax, but I just didn’t know how to take the edge off without alcohol.
That’s when I discovered the power of the pedicure; self-care rituals can help relieve the tension you used to blow off with alcohol or other drugs. I also learned how to fight back against those voices in my head (and other’s opinions) that I was being vain or irresponsible to spend money on myself.
Show Yourself Some Love
Here’s how I used self-care rituals, even the “girly” ones, to teach my body that it deserves love instead of the abuse I inflicted in active addiction.
- The PedicureThere are lots of places where you can get one for a good price, and there’s no better feeling than soaking your feet in hot water and getting a foot massage. They’re not just for women – guys get them too. It’s also nice to walk out feeling pretty!
- Take a Brain Break Give yourself time every day to rest. It will pay off in being more efficient later. My biggest trigger (other than stress, men and money!) is not taking enough breaks – pushing myself too hard. Many a binge happened when I didn’t take time for me.
- Treat Yourself It’s okay to spend money of yourself; give yourself permission to buy those shoes or a meal at a nice restaurant. It doesn’t need to be extravagant even a hot cup of tea can take the edge off.
- Develop Rituals to Relax I’ve only recently discovered that watching television late at night, instead of staying up working, is a great way to give myself a break.
- Talk to a Friend In early recovery I was so busy that I often wouldn’t make time for idle chit chat with buddies. Take a few minutes to catch up, share the latest gossip, or vent some of your pent-up frustration.
- Sleep and RechargeTake a nap if you feel overwhelmed, instead of trying to get just one more task done.
- Play With AnimalsEven if you don’t have a pet, usually you can find a friend who will share. The most relaxing thing for me is when my cat sits down next to me on her favorite white blanket and we have what I call a “pet and purr.” Taking a friend’s dog for a walk, cuddling the cat, even just going to a park and petting other people’s dogs (get permission! Otherwise if a dog isn’t friendly you could lose a hand!) are all good ways to relax.
Most of us feel a lot of guilt in early recovery. You might think that you have to spend all your time “making up” for things you did in active addiction. But you have to make time for self-care in order to stay sane, healthy and sober!