Knowing how to take care of yourself is important not only during the early stages of recovery, but also when facing challenges and stressful times throughout life. It is during those tough times that one's sobriety can be tested.
Going through a breakup or divorce, financial difficulties, experiencing family issues, illness, or the death of a loved one are particularly stressful and are often the times when a relapse occurs. This is why it's so important to practice self care throughout your recovery and stay aware of emotions.
Even small daily stresses that can make one feel grouchy, irritated, or tired can lead to a relapse if left unacknowledged.
Luckily, there are several simple ways for dealing with negative emotions that can take place on an average day, or occur as a result of a life challenge. The following tips will help anyone stay sober during challenging times.
1. Stay active.
You've probably heard it a million times, but regular exercise truly does wonders for a person's mental and emotional well being in addition to keeping you in shape. Even just 30 minutes of activity a day can make a big difference in the way you feel. Going on a walk, cleaning, gardening, stretching, riding a bicycle, or anything else that gets you up and moving counts as physical activity. They will get your endorphins up and your mind off of anything that's troubling you.
2. Use HALT.
Another effective method is using HALT whenever you feel bad. This means stopping whatever you're doing or thinking, and asking yourself whether you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If you answer yes to any of these, take the appropriate action needed to address the feeling. Regularly checking in with yourself using HALT or any other method is a great way to increase self awareness and making self care a part of your routine.
3. Be happy for others.
This can be a tough one to do, especially when you are feeling down yourself. But taking the time to share in the happiness of others in a genuine way can make a big difference in the way you feel about your own recovery, and your own life as well.
This can be done by listening to the stories of others in recovery, or by sitting down with a friend, sponsor, or other peer. Sharing the happiness of others and practicing gratitude regularly will build a greater sense of hope and purpose that can go a long way in recovery.
4. Take a break.
Oftentimes you will find that feeling sad, hopeless, irritated or stress comes as a result of working too hard or leading a stressful life with little to no time for yourself. Schedule breaks for yourself regularly so that you have opportunities to recharge and take stock of your life so far.
This can be done by making time to do anything you find relaxing or enjoyable, whether it be by leaving town for a few days, going to a spa, or simply sitting in the park for a few hours with a good book.
5. Help someone in need.
There is nothing like reaching out to someone in need to remind yourself of what's truly important in life and to reset your perspective. Service can take the form of sponsoring another person in recovery, volunteering for a cause you care about, or simply helping a friend who is having a difficult time.
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