I spent the other week on a little island in the Gulf of Mexico, a place that holds a lot of magic and healing for me. The sunshine and humidity warmed and brightened up my spirit from the inside. The salt water washed away the sadness, grief and depression that had been plaguing me in San Francisco. It was a little staggering how quickly my depression receded. I felt like myself again – real laughter, real rest at night, moments of real joy, and real love in the arms of my daughter and husband. While I’m so grateful to have had that time in Florida to find myself again, it made coming back to San Francisco unbearable. This angry, overtired, mean and grumpy person, I felt desperate not to let her take hold again. The answer is that I need to put taking care of myself (and my sobriety) at the top of my list.
I’ve been plodding along in recovery from alcohol for the past two years with the help of a twelve step program, and now that I’m solid in my sobriety I’m feeling a nudge to go further. I found a psychiatrist that deals with depression and anxiety, a counselor who works with addiction and now it’s time to make the changes that I’ve been avoiding. In the beginning, I did whatever I needed to not to drink. Everything else could wait, and I’m so glad I did that because it let me find freedom from drinking. Now, the things that I have been looking to for relief – sugar, comfort eating, TV – aren’t helping me. They’re keeping me stuck. I want to get back to that joyful, easy going girl I remembered on that island. So I’m posting here for some accountability. These are the main stays of my self-care. (Not to mention, the holidays are here so having bullet proof self-care is a good plan.)
Casting a Spell
Essentially setting an intention is always the beginning for me. The inner witch in me likes to thing of it as casting a spell. I want to heal from the emotional pain I’ve picked up over the course of my life and move through it, rather than drag it behind me. That’s why I’m doing this.
At minimum, 7-8 hours of sleep keeps me on an even keel. With a toddler that often wakes up at night that’s not always possible. In that case, I nap whenever I can.
Running, yoga, dancing anything that gets my body moving and my heart rate going I count. For some accountability, I took a little risk and reached out to find a running buddy. Now I have two women that I meet twice a week to run and it’s the only thing that gets me out the door on the cold, dark nights of winter.
I have a lot of issues around food. In the past I’ve obsessed about calorie counting, restricted and binged, and stuffed my face with food hoping it would make me feel better. What’s working for the moment is focusing on structure – three meals and one snack – as well as getting enough protein. These two pieces have been helping the most. My energy is better and I feel like I’m eating for nourishment.
I try to do one little thing every day that makes my spirit happy – reading a poem, going to recovery meetings, or reading recovery literature.
Maybe it’s a strange one but when I’m not creating something I feel really angry, like there’s something inside clawing at me to get out. Writing in a journal, cooking a new meal, writing a blog post, singing anything that helps me feel like I’m living a creative life.
This is the one I don’t do, but makes me feel immeasurably better when I do. Time to start doing it…
Every morning I write a list of the things I’m grateful for right when I wake up. I’m also part of a private gratitude group on Facebook. A small group of women friends all post each day about one thing they’re grateful for. It’s been a really powerful way to connect and stay grounded no matter what happens. Each day I’m reminded that I have everything I need, and a lot of things that I want.