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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Self Care in Sobriety

self care sobrietyAround the tables in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, it is often said, particularly to newcomers, that AA is a selfish program. Newcomers are encouraged to realize "You don't do it for your wife, husband, or children. You do it for yourself." For many of us, this feels strange and uncomfortable. Throughout life, most of us are taught not to be selfish. We are taught to share, to be kind to others, to put others first, to show compassion, empathy and generosity. Yet, when it comes to directing this type of love and understanding inward to ourselves, it often feels rather unnatural.

In our addictions, we often become so accustomed to self-loathing that the concept of self-love feels foreign and far removed. The wreckage of addiction can be severe, to say the least. When we get sober, we are commonly plagued with feelings of guilt, shame, regret, and are appalled by the atrocities we’ve put ourselves and others through. We may have even continued drinking and using to avoid these feelings and facing our truths and even as a form of self-abuse. It can be very challenging to replace self-loathing with self-love, but to attain sustainable recovery, we must!

There are many ways to cultivate self-love, but a simple way to become accustomed to extending love towards yourself is through self-care. By practicing self-care, you learn to be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, connect with self-worth, and simply realize how much better it feels to be nice to yourself!

There are many facets to self-care, as we are multidimensional beings. The whole person is comprised of physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social aspects. When we think of self-care, we need to think of taking time to nourish each of those aspects.

For physical self-care, think of being gentle and caring with your body. Eating nutritious food, getting adequate physical exercise, rest, and sleep, will help provide energy needed for recovery. Mental self-care can be attained by engaging in activities that stimulate your brain, such as puzzles, books, or stimulating conversations with friends or colleagues. Spiritual self-care looks different for everyone and can be found in prayer, meditation, yoga, wilderness, or really whatever helps you feel connected and grounded. Emotional self-care involves talking about your feelings, releasing negative emotions, setting boundaries, and often finding an expressive outlet such as music, art, or dance. Social self-care is essential, as relationships are highly important aspects of our lives. Taking time to attend meetings, nourish existing relationships, and reaching out to others all lend to social self-care.

Self-care looks different for everyone but involves the same principles. It is a vital part of the recovery process and can help with attaining self-love, which not only feels great, but is a huge part of relapse prevention.

Heather Smyly, BS

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