In the last issue I had the privilege of introducing a Recovery checklist of Self Care Practices. In recovery we discover that the behaviors and substances that once alleviated our pain and gave us pleasure stopped working. Here are practices I trust will serve you well if you use them.
CHECKLIST: DAILY SELF-CARE RECOVERY PRACTICES
We covered the first 4 in the last issue of Journey and here we’ll continue.
• Eat healthy foods
• Drink lots of water
• Get enough sleep
• Move your body
• Engage in a spiritual practice
• Connect with Nature
• Write in a journal
• Learn something new
• Express yourself creatively
• Do something for someone else
ENGAGE IN A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
When we were active in our addictions many of us made our substance our higher power. When we were actively using substances many of us would wake up thinking about how to obtain that substance. In fact we would think about the substance all day long. Whenever we were in any kind of quandary we turned first to substances. This is akin to worshipping a substance. We saw substance use as the answer to all of life’s problems. If substances were your higher power than you already know how to turn to a higher power. This knowledge can guide you in determining what you need to engage in a spiritual practice. Your higher power does not need to be outside of yourself it can be learning to listen and follow a higher self.
The following is an exercise on developing your own concept of a higher power. On one side of a piece of paper write down what you were taught to believe about God and religion. On the other side of the page write whatever you would like a higher power to be and do for you. When you are done rip the page down the middle, throw away the old concept and begin imagining the new. Notice the common denominators between recovery and many spiritual traditions.
Religions practice meditation and prayer. There is often a fellowship, a church or gathering space, some form of reading and acts of charity. See how many of these principles you can employ in creating your own spiritual practice in recovery.
CONNECT WITH NATURE
This doesn’t just mean going outside. Connecting with nature can include listening to sounds of the ocean in order to fall asleep holding a crystal or stone during meditation and in stressful situations, planning a garden or starting seedlings inside this month. Try the following writing exercise. Think of yourself at this stage in your recovery as a weather system and then write a paragraph long description starting with I am. I am a fog waiting to lift. I am the wake of a tornado.
WRITE IN A JOURNAL
If journaling doesn’t come naturally to you start by reading a page in the big book and write your response to a single sentence that your resonate with. You can also stop dating your entries and see if this helps you to let go of perfectionism. Bullet journals are helpful in that they have an index in the front. Early in recovery, journals can tend to be a place to vent. While this can be cathartic it can also foster isolation and depression.
Try writing a journal focused on gratitude. Each night before going to sleep write down 3 things you are grateful for, 3 things you accomplished or 3 things that came your way that day. You can keep an abundance journal and catalog all the ways in which you are experiencing abundance in your life. Keep an intuition journal and write down coincidences as they occur and intuitive thoughts. In this journal I suggest writing down whether or not you actively responded to your intuition or the coincidence appearing in your life.
As a result of focusing on gratitude, intuition and abundance you will see these positive energies multiply. You will have more to be grateful for. You will experience greater wealth and prosperity. You will trust in your higher power and be guided more frequently by your intuition.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Exercise your brain. From the mundane to the profound, it strengthens your mind to keep learning. Did you know that if you are about to sneeze you can look into a bright light and the urge will pass? With the internet at our fingertips it is easy to learn a new fact on google or learn how to do something new on YouTube. Practice having a beginners mind even in a subject area where you are an expert.
EXPRESS YOURSELF CREATIVELY
Artists share having a sensitive nervous system in common with addicts. Many artists have turned to substances. In early recovery it is not uncommon to feel reluctant to paint or play music. There is a fear that being dry means one’s creativity is also dried up. Can you perform or be in touch with your creative muse without the help of a substance? I encourage you to try on a daily basis. Start with one of the new coloring books designed for adults and give yourself permission to color outside the lines.
DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE
Twelve step groups are based on passing on the message of recovery. Be cautious not to be a caregiver to the extent that you ignore your own needs for self care. Addicts tend to be selfish and self serving and helping others has been proven to strengthen your own heart. One suggestion is to do something for someone else without letting the recipient know. Look for opportunities to help someone. For example let someone enter into your lane in traffic.
There has never been a time when we have needed self care more than we do today. First and foremost stay clean and sober. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous talks about how we do not need to learn how to live without drinking. We need to learn how to live with sobriety. To face life in all its glory and tragedy remaining present to all of it. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected.