Sobriety & self-care: a necessary union.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve probably turned into a bit of a pain in the arse recently, talking about my new sobriety and how ~fresh~ I feel (I don’t know if it’s better or worse than when I gave up gluten and ‘just had so much more energy’).
Whilst I’ve had my stints of giving up alcohol in the past, or moderation, this one does seem to be sticking far more effectively, and I think a key reason for this can be found in my recent forays into the world of ‘self care’. For me, sobriety and self-care are inextricably linked: you need to practise self care consciously to remain invested in your sobriety, and in turn, sobriety itself is a form of self-care.
What is ‘self-care’?
Whether it’s simply confirmation bias or truly on the rise, it seems like practising self-care in the form of mindfulness, taking time for yourself, or daily affirmations is growing in popularity by the day. Ways of practising it are not new – for people who have struggled with mental health in the past, it’s always been recommended to ‘check in’ with yourself on the regular to maintain your recovery efforts. This is a similar step in recovery for addiction.
How does it help us?
Self-care comes in all shapes and sizes, from ‘setting intentions’ for a week or day ahead all the way down to just making yourself a cup of tea and setting some time aside to switch off and read a book, the point of it is to consciously give yourself time for positive, stress-free and safe experiences. There are myriad benefits to actively putting self-care into practise, but in short, a few key benefits are:
- A more positive work/life balance
- Lowering stress through ‘switching off’
- Giving greater value to your own happiness
- Increased mindfulness, understanding of self
Self-care and sobriety
I’m going to be honest, I’m not certain if my recent sobriety has caused me to dive into the world of self-care, or if my efforts to practise it have prompted me to have this go on the sober path in the first place. After all, in many ways, I do see sobriety itself as a form of self-care.
However, here I’m just going to put down a few reasons why I’ve found self-care practise to be absolutely crucial to recovery and sobriety that will stick:
- You teach yourself to feel good organically. Alcohol f***s with your dopamine. It’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve realised just how little I was doing with my time for my years of drinking – 2 months in and I’ve started picking up old hobbies in the form of drawing and music! Self-care encourages you to take joy in the little things, and when you’re sober you actually can. Many aspects of self-care allow you to rediscover joy in the day-to-day – if you’re happy, you’re less likely to hop back off the wagon.
- Honestly, it fills the time. People taking time off from alcohol often find themselves at a loss for what to do in their evenings, and it can be a pretty major source of relapse for many. Whether it’s meditation or a cup of tea, giving the term ‘self-care’ to what you’re doing turns it into an ‘activity’ in your mind.
- Reinforce your positive, healthy thinking. If you feel s***, it’s hard to make progress. These little daily affirmations and check-ins can make such a massive difference, and have helped me to both recognise my progress, and bolster my resolve so much.
I was reading about H.A.L.T. yesterday – a recovery term meaning Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. If you are in a negative space, recovery is complex. Taking steps to maintain a strong mind whilst you adjust to a ‘naked’ mind can make the world of difference. Hell, weird note but my partner has told me I’m even managing periods better here at month 2 of my sobriety – the benefits just keep coming!
For anybody looking to start off on the sober road, I can’t stress it enough – you can’t look after yourself without looking after yourself. Read up on self-care (or just search #selfcare on Instagram because it’s ridiculous how much content is out there), and give yourself a fight plan. You got it.
Lots of love,