Ten Strategies for Self Care

In my last couple of blog posts I’ve been talking about the importance of boundaries as a vital element of self-care and recovery for families and friends of alcoholics and addicts. I’ve decided to stay with that theme for now and offer a more detailed list of self-care strategies.

After all, I’ve always been a big proponent of self-care. And this is especially important if you are close to an addict or alcoholic.

The sad truth is that there is nothing we can do to get someone else to stop using drugs or to get sober from alcohol. We can’t control people’s behavior or the choices they make. That being the case, the question is no longer, ‘what am I going to do about this person.’

The real question is: How am I going to take care of myself given the way things are.

To help with that I’ve put together a list of Ten Strategies for Self-Care for families and friends of alcoholics and addicts:

Prioritize yourself: Make yourself and your well-being the priority. Don’t sacrifice your self-care strategies or activities for the addict/alcoholic.

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries: Set clear, solid boundaries and stick to them, even when it’s hard, even when your loved one insists. I wrote about this in my last blog post, entitled Nine Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries.

Learn to say no: This is part of setting and maintaining firm boundaries. You'll help diminish intensity by speaking up for yourself. This means refusing additional requests or demands on your time, emotions or resources, including money.

Give up on the idea of control: You can’t control other people, especially addicts. Let the addict or alcoholic have his/her life, even if you don’t approve.

Stop over-nurturing: If you routinely take on other people's problems and responsibilities, learn to gracefully disengage. Every time you rescue an addict or alcoholic from the consequences of their behavior, you are enabling them to continue that behavior. Try to get some nurturing for yourself.

Don’t trust too soon: Always be aware of an addict/alcoholic’s propensity for dishonesty.

Don't do everything alone! Develop or renew intimacies with friends and loved ones. Closeness not only brings new insights, but also is a good salve for agitation and depression.

Build and maintain a support system: Taking care of yourself with an addict demands more energy and attention that you have by yourself. There are lots of resources available, including faith-based and Twelve Step Groups. Here are some resources that are available in your area: 

Al-Anon: (888) 425-2666

Codependents Anonymous: (866) 794-9993

Replenish yourself: Go for walks, get exercise, get a massage, yoga, movies...Take care of your body: Don't skip meals, disregard your need for sleep, or break the doctor appointments. Take care of yourself nutritionally. Stay hydrated.

Again, self-care is always important, but even more so if you’re close to an addict or alcoholic. If you’re struggling with these issues, I'm here to help. Feel free to call me at (812) 371-6330, or you can email me at ken@insight-counseling.org.

Don’t forget to take good care of yourself.