You know it's important to practice self-care, but what does self-care actually mean? And how do you prioritize this essential goal?
Because when you have a loved one in treatment, it can be challenging to focus on anything else. You want to make sure they're happy and safe. You also want to make sure you're doing everything you can to help them.
And so, you may find yourself checking in on them incessantly. You may have their case manager on speed dial. The second something goes wrong, you're rushing in to try to fix things.
But if you neglect your own well-being, you run the risk of hurting yourself- and the people you love. Let's get into some practical self-care solutions.
Recognize What's In Your Control
Self-care isn't just bubble baths and long walks on the beach. It's a mindset. Self-care means honoring your integrity and your personal well-being. When you have this mindset, you naturally engage in actions that make you feel good about yourself.
Unfortunately, when you love someone struggling with an addiction, it's normal to hold an excessive responsibility for their recovery. You may blame yourself for their behavior. You might also assume that you need to discipline, monitor, or even change their actions.
It's normal to fall into a pattern of codependency, but this pattern tends to be destructive and painful.
Remember that you can't control anyone but yourself. This insight may be frightening, but it can also be healing. The more you focus on what you can control (your thoughts, reactions, and decisions), the less time you spend obsessing on what you can't fix.
Find A Support System
You shouldn't have to walk through this scary experience alone. Finding support allows you to process your feelings with other people. It also allows you to focus on cultivating your own relationships.
Ideally, you want to surround yourself with nonjudgmental people who can listen and understand your fears. You might find support by:
working with an individual therapist or life coach.
connecting with other family members on online social media groups or forums.
joining a support group facilitated by a therapist.
connecting with members of your church or temple.
Remember, it's not so much about the number of people in your support system. Focus on quality instead. Even having just one or two people in your corner can make a profound difference.
Prioritize Your Physical Health
Stress can undoubtedly wreak havoc on your energy. If you're stressed, you might be more inclined to cope with overeating, smoking, drinking, compulsively shopping, or other unhealthy habits.
In the short-term, these strategies may provide some temporary relief. However, they tend to make things worse as time goes on.
Instead, try to make the conscious effort to focus on taking care of your physical health. This means:
eating a well-rounded, nutritious diet.
following an appropriate and consistent sleep schedule.
attending all medical appointments.
taking any medications as prescribed.
practicing stress reduction techniques regularly.
Remember that it isn't selfish to take care of your physical well-being. You need to be physically and emotionally strong right now. That's also what your loved one probably wants you focusing on as well!
Practice More Self-Compassion
Family members often berate themselves for their loved one's addiction. Unfortunately, loved ones may also contribute to this dynamic by blaming or criticizing you for your actions.
Self-compassion means accepting your flaws and imperfections. It also means recognizing that you're only human, and that you are a worthy person. Self-compassionate people learn to forgive themselves for their mistakes. They also choose to acknowledge their strengths and praise themselves when they make a good decision.
You can practice more self-compassion by:
letting go of "shoulds": avoid falling into the trap of saying, "I should have done that," or "things should have gone differently. "Should" statements only tend to make you feel more guilty and frustrated.
changing negative thoughts: The next time you criticize yourself, try to spin it into a more positive thought. For example, if you say, I'm so stupid, you might change it to, I'm still learning how to deal with this.
spending more time doing enjoyable things: Self-compassionate people honor their needs and wants. Think about how you can infuse more joy into your day. The happier you feel, the more likely you are to love yourself.
Final Thoughts on How to Practice Self-Care
Choosing to practice self-care means choosing to honor both you and your loved one. You can't support other people when you're pouring from an empty cup. Doing so will lead to resentment and burnout. It may also sabotage your relationships.
At The Resurface Group, we help individuals and their family systems heal from addiction. We understand the burden this disease can have on loved ones. We are here for you. Contact us today to learn more about our process.