"TAKING CARE OF MYSELF"
When I first got sober, I had no idea how harshly I treated myself. I didn't understand how I punished myself, how much I did not honor or love myself. Learning how to care for myself has been a learning experience that I continue to practice regularly and am still learning. My body was often like a high tension wire filled with crackling electricity.
As an alcoholic, this state of mind and body is not good. When I'm not taking care of myself, I tend towards restlessness, irritability, and discontentment (RID). And the antidote for RID was always DRINK! I have had to cultivate new behaviors to reduce the RID so I would not resort to drinking. Today I understand that drink will not only RID me of my restless, irritable, and discontent temperament, but it will RID me of my life as well.
SO - WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS I DO TO CARE FOR MYSELF?
1. One of the first and most important things is to develop a sense of self awareness so I can know how I am feeling. Thinking about the acronym HALT is a tool that helps me do this. I can ask myself, "Am I hungry? Am I feeling angry? Am I experiencing loneliness? Am I tired?" Before I found recovery I would give none of these any thought and therefore do nothing to rectify any of these conditions. Today I take action if I am off the mark in any of these areas.
2. Sometimes my "obsessive-compulsive" nature gets the upper hand and I, like many alcoholics, will take something to excess. It can be something fun and wonderful just as easily as something detrimental. When this happens, I may neglect other areas of my life till they are out of balance - sleep, food, or maybe time alone. For me, this is not taking care of myself. I need to remember to keep things balanced. I function best that way.
3. When I am under a great deal of stress and anxiety due to circumstances of life, it takes a huge toll on my serenity, peace of mind, and general well-being. Sometimes I cannot prevent high levels of stress. I need to be as vigilant as possible while these times are occurring to do the best I can to try ease the tension by eating properly, sleeping enough, praying, getting to meetings, and talking with my sponsor.
4. When a very stressful time has passed, it can require a period of time to return to normal. Taking care of myself at a time like this means giving myself permission to rest or sleep more. Sometimes I need to relax my routine, adjust it until my strength and focus returns. During this time, the best thing I can do is go to a lot of meetings and be gentle with myself.
5. Taking care of myself includes staying close to my friends - allowing them to comfort, support, and love me. I allow myself to trust my friends to "watch my back". Taking care means not isolating - allowing trusted friends to know what's happening and what I need that they might be able to help me with.
6. Taking care of myself includes taking time to pray, meditate, sit in silence, be calm and at peace inside myself.
7. I am taking care of myself when I give myself time to read a book or do some other leisure activity that I enjoy.
8. It is also taking care of myself when I write a TO DO list rather than growing stressed over too many things to do. By putting them in a list and marking them off one at a time as I complete them, I reduce the stress and cut what seems like an insurmountable number of tasks down to a manageable size.
I am valuable. I am worth taking care of. We are all children of God and deserve to be cared for not only by God, but by ourselves as well.