In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it states that alcoholics have an above average intelligence and a sensitive nervous system. Tony Robbins, a well-known motivational speaker, says there are two prime motivators for all of human behavior. They are to avoid pain and increase pleasure. For many those of us who struggle with addiction achieved both of these goals. Substances increased pleasure and helped to escape pain.
Entering into recovery we need to understand that this was the very best we could do to take care of ourselves. However these self-care mechanisms stopped providing pleasure and caused more pain in the long run. In this article I will touch on the first four items on the following checklist of daily self-care in recovery practices.
Checklist: Daily Self-Care Recovery Practices
- 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
EAT HEALTHY FOODS
What is healthy eating in early recovery?
Tips for healthy eating include cutting back on your consumption of processed foods. Eat foods as close to how they come out of the ground and off a tree. Eat between 3 and 5 times a day. Make your plate a colorful array of foods, this will help you get a balance of nutrients. No, this does not include a plateful of skittles.
When shopping in a grocery store stay on the outer perimeter of the store. This will help you cut back on products that come in a bag or box. If these suggestions sound daunting and too much try add food (like a green vegetable) rather than subtracting from your food intake. Rather than telling yourself you can no longer eat potato chips with your sandwich at lunch, try adding a salad.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Water at room temperature most closely mirrors the water in the cells of our bodies, all 33 trillion or so. I happen to like ice cold water or hot water with lemon more than water at room temperature. If you are detoxing drink plenty of water. It helps the process.
A key reminder is the amount of water you need every day refers to water only, not the water in tea or water with lemon.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
The lack of sleep can age men by a decade and impairs a woman’s reproductive cycle. When I worked at Mercy Recovery Center I went to my doctor and told her I was concerned about my memory. She said all I needed to do to improve my memory was get a full 8 hours of sleep on a consistent basis. If you are struggling with sleep at all the key is regularity.
Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, no matter whether it’s a weekday or weekend. Regularity is the anchor to the quality of your sleep. The next tip is the quantity of sleep. Stay in bed for 8 full hours. Try a warm bath or foot massage before getting ready for bed.
What you listen to or read for the 5 minutes before you fall asleep is marinated for the entire time you are sleeping. formulating a gratitude list in your mind.
Think about what works for regulating sleep for babies and children; soft lighting in a cool room, a comfort object like a teddy bear, or calming music.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Start by shaking different parts of your body when you wake up, just like the hokey pokey. Put your right foot in, take your right foot out and shake it all about. Makko Ho is a Japanese form of Yoga that literally wakes up the chakras and meridians of the body.
Whatever you love doing that gets you moving is the best place to start. If you love to dance, find music that makes you want to move. If you love working out at a gym, go for it. Get an exercise buddy or accountability partner and set individual movement goals.
There are so many ways to be active indoors and out. I play pickleball several times a week and find it is as much a social activity as a physical one.
When you set a goal to get physically active try the following tip - aim for doing your activity more often than not. Move your body 4 days out of 7.
This concludes part 1 of this self-care in recovery practices - stay tuned for part 2