Taking care of myself in recovery is a priority because if I’m not my best self, I’m useless to serving others. Many of us are devoted to making it to work, despite coming down with a stomach bug or other illness. We slave away in the work force or for the scholars, also in school. We frequently feel the need to be what everyone else needs when they need it, but at what expense? Do we take the time to grieve or mourn a loss or are we often too quick to speak out that we are ‘fine’?
A rubber band eventually snaps when it’s overexerted – we become rundown, emotionally, mentally, and physically depleted. Through my recovery journey, I’ve struggled with the concept of self-care. I never put myself first during times I needed to. I spent years destroying my body through my eating disorder, alcohol and drugs, instead of nourishing it with care and compassion. Working with clients who struggle with substance abuse, I advocate for self-care. I cannot emphasize how important it is. But do I practice what I preach?
I do my best. I’ve gotten better over the years but it wasn’t until recently I really saw the benefits to practicing self-care. By honoring your emotions and really being present with them as you feel them instead of ignoring or shoving them down, you are taking care of yourself. By setting healthy boundaries and sticking to them, that also is self-care.
Taking time to yourself to simply just ‘be’ or paying attention to your emotional, mental, and physical needs are all equally important. I felt so refreshed after taking the weekend to myself to sleep off and on, attend 12-step meetings and just lounge, watching movies and bad television. By the time Monday resurfaced, I felt awakened and grounded.
Like I often have to remind myself, it is okay to say no, put yourself first, and take time for yourself. Whatever self-care means to you, do it. And if you’re waiting for someone to give you permission to love or take care of yourself, here it is: go take care of YOU.