Take Care: Tools for Self-Compassion in Recovery
It is a sentence with which we often punctuate polite conversation, nearly as common as goodbye.
Take care of yourself.
Though it is this inconspicuous phrase that can create a revolution in its simplistic message. It is not so much a farewell as it is a piece of advice—one that each of us, no matter which obstacle we are facing, can benefit from.
In his ancient wisdom, Socrates spoke to this very topic.
“My friend…care for your psyche, know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves.”
Of course, the process of knowing oneself is lifelong. We are born with notebooks to be scribbled in and memories to be etched, and it is in forming our own personalities that we learn the beauty of being an individual.
In light of experiencing a traumatic event, our bodies can enter into a fierce competition with our minds. The process of knowing oneself feels forgotten. “Taking care” is no longer a priority; our struggle overwhelms our capacity to acknowledge and celebrate our progress, our good qualities, and our potential to heal.
In the beginning stages of recovery from addiction, it is easy to lose sight of self-compassion. The fragility of this period stems from radical change, and the hard work that one must do in order to recover. Becoming the person you want to be in sobriety involves many choices, many stressors, and many, many, many acts of self-care.
When moving through a critical transition in life, survival mode has the tendency to kick in. This shift usually occurs before we have even had the opportunity to process change; our life swims steadily and swiftly toward new waters, even when our feet have not left the shore.
This creates a disconnect. Our bodies send physical reminders of stress; our minds are clouded with emotion. Though it is in healing from addiction that we take an important first step toward sobriety; it is in self-care that we remind ourselves of the many loveable qualities we possess.
Self-destructive behaviors and thought patterns formed in active addiction do not disappear overnight, though through observing, acknowledging, and congratulating the positive efforts we make to overcome our personal obstacles in recovery, we create room for healing to grow.
Self-care reconnects the mind and body during times of stress and transition. Though when practiced daily, even in times that are less stressful, self-care creates a sturdy foundation for self-compassion and love, which enables us to have compassion and love for others.
The next time you feel anxious or doubtful, take a moment to just take care. Gentle in nature and powerful in impact, self-care is a series of simple actions that creates meaningful and lasting reactions.
Self-care consists of everyday “tasks” that are tasked with intention. Here is a list of ideas to get you started.
1. Go outside.
Take a notepad and jot down things that you notice as you sit on a park bench. Stroll along the beach and listen to the waves. Get yourself moving and go for a run.
2. Listen to music.
Make a playlist of songs that motivate you, or look up a new artist at random and get to know the music.
3. Read a favorite book or watch a favorite movie.
Think of a movie that you’d never pass up watching if it were on TV, or a book that you’ve reread over and over.
4. Meditate for five minutes.
Even the smallest amount of meditation can inspire feelings of rejuvenation.
5. Drink a cup of tea.
Or water, or coffee, if tea’s not your thing.
6. Color or draw.
Find a piece of paper and fill it with color and lines.
7. Write something.
It can be whatever you’d like: a journal entry, a letter, a list.
8. Cook a meal.
Find a recipe and follow it, or make a creation of your own.
9. Get plenty of sleep.
Honor your body and get the rest you need.
10. Do a puzzle.
There is something peaceful about putting pieces back together.
I would be remiss if I didn’t end this blog with the simple statement with which it began.
Take care of yourself.
You—and the person you are becoming in your recovery—deserve it.