Not long ago, someone asked me an amazing question after learning about their partner’s addiction that I’d like to share:
“What to do until the shock and anxiety subsides enough that we can take care of ourselves and think straight? Being careful not to make impulsive regretful decisions.”
Wowzers! I told you it was amazing! Not only does it ask about self-care, it also shows awareness about making impulsive decisions during a vulnerable time.
I wish I had that kind of insight when I was trying to pick myself up off the floor. I’m so grateful this person has that mindfulness and I think it will serve them well along their journey of healing.
While I could write a novel to answer this fantastic question, I’ll spare you. Instead, I’ll use one of my handy-dandy lists. These are the things that helped me get out of bed, stop being hypervigilant, regain my self-confidence, and make the smile on my face reach my heart and soul.
Was it easy? Hell to the no. It was daily work. Daily work that I resisted doing for a super long time and even when I started doing it, it was slow going. But we have to start somewhere. As they say, every journey starts with a single step and sometimes that’s the one that’s the hardest. When we keep making those steps though, they get easier.
Write: Start a journal, a blog, or simply scribble your thoughts on a scrap of paper. Just get those negative ideas out of your brain.
Surround Myself With Positive People: I learned the hard way that surrounding myself with people who did and said negative things, it caused me to adopt that mentality. When I sought out positive people and did things that were healthy, I felt much more optimistic.
Draw or color: It’s not just for kids. It’s a great stress reliever.
Take a warm bath: Put on your favorite music, bring in your favorite paperback/e-reader, or pop in an audiobook, then soak in some Epsom salt, essential oils, and bubbles. Try not to be like me; I kept checking the clock because I felt selfish, and had to remind myself I was supposed to be relaxing, not timing myself and feeling guilty.
Yoga:: It was one of my favorite things to do before my body rebelled against me but I’m easing my way back into it again. It’s a great way to calm your thoughts and get some exercise too. For those of you like me who have health issues, there are DVDs out there that cater to us. I don’t get wrapped up in what pose is what. Sure, I know downward dog, tree, warrior and such, but beyond that, not so much. It’s more about being able to relax and find calm than becoming a yogi.
Go for a walk: Not only will you benefit from breathing in the fresh air, it’s a great chance to meet your neighbors and strike up a conversation. A surefire way to help you get outside of your head.
Meditate or pray: No matter which you choose or if you try out both, it’s an easy way to calm your mind. Don’t expect those nagging thoughts to go away the first or even the first ten times you do it. Just keep trying. Eventually, you’ll learn to clear your head in a matter of minutes.
Call a friend: Even if you haven’t told anyone about what’s going on in your world, you can still reach out to someone and talk about a movie you just watched or get an idea for a recipe. If you’re in a recovery program, call someone from your group; that’s what they’re there for, to help you down off the ledge.
Greet It: I greet the negative emotions while they’re happening. Acknowledge that they are there and don’t ignore them. Allow yourself to move through them without trying to figure out the cause. I didn’t self-analyze it to pieces, because that in itself is taxing.
Deep breaths: They really did help calm me down when I was getting worked up. I’m telling you, these bad boys work wonders.
Footprints: I read Footprints. It’s my favorite writing and I have it hanging in my bathroom, which is where I usually ended up crying. If Footprints isn’t your thing, try another sonnet or song verse that can lift your spirits.
Go for a drive: I drove to one of my favorite spots with a pen and paper, then vented my rage, shredded it, then tossed it in a garbage can on the drive home.
Gratitude list: What a great way to remind yourself of all the good you have in your life. List ten things you’re grateful to have. It can be anything from your kids to your soft blanket. Whatever makes your heart smile. Don’t forget to keep that list updated too. Change it up from time to time so it doesn’t get stale and challenge yourself to think of things aside from the biggies like family, house, and the like.
Guided imagery: A great tool I use for migraines, too. I imagine myself on the beach. I feel the sand, see the dolphins jumping, smell the ocean, hear the seagulls, and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I transport myself there, because it’s my favorite calming place. What’s yours?
Self-talk: I looked myself in the mirror and told myself how strong I am, and reminded myself I can handle what life is throwing at me. Don’t worry about looking silly; no one is watching.
Find a hobby to enjoy: Cooking, crafting, writing, gardening, blogging, exercise, yoga, Zumba are just a few of the things out there that can help keep your mind from slipping into unhealthy patterns.
Treat yourself: Buy yourself a small gift, go to the mall, get a massage, see a movie, get a mani/pedi, take a nap, just be sure and be kind to yourself. You deserve it, and don’t think for a minute that you don’t.
Count: Another bizarre sounding idea, but it kept my mind off of whatever unhealthy behavior I was about to do, or kept me distracted long enough to calm down.
Dance and sing: If anyone looked in my windows a short time after I started recovery, they probably thought I was off my rocker. I danced all the time. So much so that my husband bought me the Xbox Kinect so I could dance to their video games. Exercise and stress relief at the same time – you can’t beat it.
Write a letter: It can be something you use to vent your anger, or a nice letter to help remind you why you love your partner. Just be sure and shred the nasty one so it’s not found accidently.
Send a card: People rarely send cards by snail mail anymore. My aunts love it when I send them a note to let them know I’m thinking about them.
Volunteer: Whether it’s your local animal shelter, your program, a homeless shelter, or a Veteran’s home, people need and appreciate your help. Plus, it’s a great way to get outside yourself and help others in need more than you. Service work does wonders for your healing.
Watch something funny: There’s nothing like a great comedy to take your mind off the heavy things. Just be sure not to get stuck on that couch for too long.
Watch something sad: Okay, I know that negates what I said above, but sometimes we just need to cry. If that’s the case, watch something sad, allow yourself to cry, dust yourself off, and remind yourself how much you rock!
Take a break: Give yourself a break from chores or cooking for a day. If you’re responsible for dishes every night, just leave them in the sink or delegate the task. No one is going to judge how well kept your home is, and if they do, they aren’t true friends anyway.
Affirmation cards: Create your affirmation cards. Here is a sample of mine:
I am strong
I am beautiful
I am confident
I feel good about my body
I am worth only the best
I am thinking loving thoughts about myself
I am unique and special
Do you have anything you like to do to help you find your peace and serenity? Do you have a question or topic you’d like me to write about? You can comment below or email me at the address in the sidebar.