In recovery, it’s easy to get down on yourself. You may often feel that your family and friends are disappointed in choices you made in the past. Dealing with the stigma of addiction may be an ongoing issue as you attempt to find employment and housing. Given the time spent in addiction, you may personally feel that you are not where you would like to be in your life and relationships.
The good news is that one of the first steps after treatment to feeling strong in recovery is to take care of yourself through acts of self-love. Not sure where to begin? Here are 10 ways to do right by yourself and, at the same time, give yourself a leg up in feeling confident in your new life without substances:
- Reward your wins. Every day that you stay sober is a win in recovery. Finding safe and sober housing is a win. Getting through the day without getting down on yourself or taking frustrations out on someone else is a win. Working out regularly for a week, quitting smoking or cutting down on cigarettes, getting a good night’s sleep every night, and eating healthfully – all wins. Celebrate them, and celebrate yourself. You are doing great.
- Eat your veggies. It’s a small thing, but it can have a huge impact. Eating a mix of different vegetables every day can increase your intake of vitamins and nutrients that you might otherwise miss and give them to you in a way that is most bioavailable for your body. Try different vegetables you never have, add them to scrambled eggs at breakfast, eat them for a snack with lean protein, and cover half your plate with fresh vegetables at dinner and lunch to feel better physically and mentally.
- Don’t undermine your accomplishments. It is easy to downplay all you have accomplished in recovery, but the fact is that your life in sobriety is a huge accomplishment made up of thousands of little achievements. Compare yourself to where you were rather than to where you see others in their lives. Acknowledge to yourself and to others that you are doing great, and that it took a lot of work to get to where you are today.
- Declutter your space. If you live in a cluttered space, you can help yourself by getting rid of things you don’t need. This can be a symbolic physical act that is attached to letting go of emotions, assumptions, and perspectives that are not helping you in recovery. You can do this with one big clean sweep or by giving one thing away every day – whatever makes the most sense for you.
- Go to the doctor and the dentist. Your entry into addiction treatment denotes your interest in staying healthy both physically and mentally. Don’t let that fall to the wayside as you begin to build your life in recovery. If you are not feeling right, get to the doctor, and make sure to get to the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups as well. Find out the screenings that are appropriate for your age and gender, and make an appointment. Staying healthy means catching big things when they are small and creating a pattern of positive choices that promotes ongoing good health.
- Get grateful. When you focus on the positive aspects of your life, you sleep better, enjoy improved physical and mental health, improve your ability to have healthy relationships with others, and improve your self-esteem. Take the time to write out a list of things you are grateful for regularly and/or when you feel bogged down emotionally.
- Create healthy boundaries. It is important to make sure that you set and maintain healthy boundaries with the people you interact with in life, from your closest friends and family members to the providers you work with to strangers you interact with on the street. The more you have healthy interactions with people and protect your mental and emotional health, the more capable you will be of living a stress-free, exuberant life in recovery.
- Spend some time outside. Getting out of the house regularly, soaking in some sun, and breathing fresh air can do wonders for your mood and your physical health. It can also lower your stress levels and give you some time to clear your head, which in turn can improve your ability to handle stressors.
- Spend responsibly. Finances can be a huge problem in your life or they can facilitate your ability to experience the world on your terms. Though saving money and avoiding debt isn’t always fun and won’t buy you happiness, it will buy you choices and give you some room to breathe if you unexpectedly face big expenses.
- Accept that you – and life – are not perfect. No matter how hard you work in recovery, humans are flawed, and you will find that life is not always going to be what you want or hope for. It is, however, far better in recovery than it is in active addiction; you are better in recovery than you are in active addiction. The imperfections you face can give you focus and drive in your life in recovery.
- What acts of self-love help you to feel empowered in recovery?