Ever looked at how you actually treat yourself physically? Maybe it’s time to step back and have a really good look at your internal dialogue and begin to view your physical self in a whole new way.
We are each given a body when we arrive in the world, and our bodies are amazing pieces of kit! If we think about what our bodies go through as we are growing, and the rate at which they grow, it’s quite an astonishing and fascinating viewpoint. Our bodies then continue to function for us and we barely give the functioning a second thought.
What is Self-care and Why is it Important?
Self-care is all about looking after your physical l health such as eating healthily and exercising regularly also let's not forget mental health, where maintaining a low-stress level which will improve energy levels and cognitive function. Someone once said to me “if you can look after a plant, it will remind you to look after yourself.”. When I heard this many years ago it kind of went over my head, but now I see the relevance. It was about raising awareness of physical care, with a psychological effect and I will use this as my analogy for this blog. So maybe the first step in your recovery from addiction is to look at how you treat yourself. Imagine someone very dear to you is treating themselves as you are treating yourself. Whether the addiction is physical or psychological, imagine the levels of stress, anxiety, and physical and emotional strain your loved one is inflicting on themselves. What advice would you give them? What care and support would you give them? Often stepping out of ourselves, or looking at ourselves differently for brief moments of time can open our eyes to self-care. Would you feed a plant toxins? Would you pull all the leaves off a plant so it had nothing left? Would you limit the plant's root growth so it struggled to survive? No, you wouldn’t, so why would you do this to yourself?
Why is Self Respect Important?
Self-respect, both physically and psychologically, is paramount for addiction recovery
. It may be very difficult for you to know where to begin and it might be helpful for you to explore with the help of a counsellor why you find respecting your body and mind so difficult. Often addictive behaviours are a result of historical learned behaviours/experiences and a lack of self-respect. Addictive behaviours can manifest from a trauma
you may have experienced, or they can be ways of living that took control of you over time. However, your addiction manifested itself as a good first step in recovery is awareness of self-care. Imagine waking up in the morning and having a good stretch to wake up all those muscles which function for us daily without us giving them a second thought! Then imagine pouring yourself a glass of cold water to feed virtually every part of your body for the day ahead. Feeding your body a healthy breakfast to fuel you for the morning ahead to help you achieve your daily work and goals. Then as you go about your daily routine become aware of your breathing, walking, seeing, tasting and all the other bodily functions your amazing piece of kit does automatically to keep you alive! The more you can become aware of yourself physically the better you will become at psychologically caring for yourself. I’m not saying become a health freak, but if you decide that’s what you would like to do that’s ok. I’m asking you to try thinking about your body from a different viewpoint. You can do this from either a plant aspect, a pet, caring for a child or loved one…..you could even take the stance of car care if necessary.
How Addiction Changes Over Time
Addiction often adapts itself, known as a functioning addict, but as your body and mind deteriorate with abuse, age, lack of care and disrespect addiction becomes more and more difficult to contain, control and keep up with this is most common with alcohol abuse
. You find your body and mind struggling to recover, it takes longer to feel ok and function throughout your day, you may become moody, forgetful and complacent and these ways of functioning have a negative effect on your entire life. Ever thought of the amount of time you dedicate to your addiction? All the thoughts, actions, behaviours and recovery time. All the thoughts of guilt and shame, hiding the addiction, making excuses, planning the next hit, where the money will come from……I imagine it will amount to a substantial chunk of your day, week, month or year!? And all behaviours of no self-care. Addiction is not feeding your plant. Addiction is pulling the leaves off the plant so it struggles to survive. The plant may adapt itself to survive as best it can over time, but eventually with no food, water, repotting or care it begins to die well before it needs to. The plant begins to look unhealthy as it wilts. I imagine we have all seen the plants on the shelf in the supermarket that nobody wants because they look so unhealthy. Some people buy those plants and try to help them survive…..and some do survive and go on to become beautiful as they grow, but sadly some die too. Become as aware as possible of your self-care, even if you only take little steps to start with. Write yourself a little note on the bathroom mirror to remind yourself of self-care, set some alarms on your phone saying “look after your body”, go out of your way daily to do something respectful for yourself and little by little you will begin to grow and recover. I wish you all wellness. Rebecca Jarvis-Hilton