Learn how self-care can help you face obstacles and live a healthy life.
With all the difficulties the world has faced over the past few years, self-care is on our radars more than ever before. If you are a family member or friend of someone dealing with substance use issues, it’s important that you prioritize taking care of yourself, no matter how difficult things get. Never neglect your own feelings and concerns when looking after someone else, or you won’t be able to bring your strongest self to the needs of others.
Today we’re going to take a deeper look at what self-care is and how you can start to include self-care in your daily routine. By making a few small changes to your routine, you’ll be able to hold your head high and keep moving forward even as challenges arise.
Notice When You’ve Lost Yourself
A large part of self-care is noticing when you’ve “lost yourself.” If you are a friend or family member of someone with substance use issues, it may be easy to find yourself overtaken by the actions and emotions of your loved ones. One of the first signs of this issue is not knowing what you even like or what you should do with your free time.
When you notice that you’ve lost yourself, it’s time to take back control of your life and time. Make sure you set aside time no matter how small to just relax and enjoy the activities you love. Breaking from acting as a caretaker could be all you need to get back on track and start feeling better.
Of course, if this is becoming an ongoing issue, you may risk long-term effects on your mental and physical health. In that case, it may be time to get some support or help from a medical professional. If that is the case, take a look at findhelp.org—it is an excellent resource for local health care practitioners.
Self-care is Not ‘Selfish’
It’s very difficult if not impossible to help others when you are depleted—mentally, emotionally, physically, or even financially. That’s why, as a passenger on a plane, you are told to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. Self-care works the same way. Just as you can’t help others if you have passed out on a plane from lack of oxygen, you cannot help others if you don’t have any excess resources.
When you are facing difficulties with a substance user (or anyone, frankly), remind yourself that it’s okay to be okay. Because if you are okay, you can help them.
Being ‘okay’ means that you put your mental, physical, and emotional needs first. That can look different for different people. But an important component is to learn how to let go of the guilt and worry that often surrounds those who have a family member or friend with substance use issues.
Being ‘okay’ means you need a break, too. Sleep isn’t the only type of rest we all need to survive and thrive. You also need to factor in activities into your life that support your happiness and wellbeing so that you can face anything that comes your way with strength and a positive outlook.
Look for Small Opportunities for Self-Care
A common misconception about self-care is that self-care must be an extravagant activity. You don’t have to spend a fortune or have hours of free time in order to enjoy self-care activities. Instead of focusing on luxuries such as taking a vacation or getting a massage, think about the small ways you can add a little break into your day.
This could mean taking a few minutes to enjoy a short walk, or quietly drinking your morning cup of coffee, sitting in sunshine, or even putting your feet up for ten minutes in the middle of a busy day. Some people may choose to practice meditation—a fantastic tool for self-care during stressful times. Others might find reading a book or going to a movie is a good way to switch off from the world around you. By finding the ways in which you enjoy relaxing and resting your mind, you’ll be ready to turn to your self-care toolkit at any time in the future.
Self-care is about gratitude as much as health and relaxation. Gratitude can help you feel present and thankful for the life you have. It can be found in a child’s smile, the smell of cut grass, or the beauty of a hummingbird visiting your favorite plant. When you take time to notice the small things and feel gratitude for them, you are taking a big step forward in self-care.
Learn more at “Self-Care and Gratitude: How The Go Hand in Hand”.
Join Us at Families Strong
If you are a family member of someone with substance use issues, there’s no more important time than the present to start investing in your self-care. By learning more about self-care and how this can benefit your life, you’ll be ready to start taking time out for yourself and looking after yourself better in the future.
A key part of self-care is finding the support you need to get through this difficult time. Join the Families Strong program. We offer free support groups where you can meet with others who are going through similar challenges in their own lives. Visit familiesstrongwv.com to find an upcoming group near you.
Still unsure? Learn more about how we can help you support your family member or friend, get in touch with our team today at (681) 378-2086 or email [email protected]. We’ll be on hand to guide you through the next couple months of your life and equip you with the tools and resources you need to gain control of your life once again.
Families Strong is a free, 8-week support group for the families and friends of individuals who are using substances. It is designed to help reduce the negative effects of substance use issues on families. The program is developed and guided by Mosaic Group, nationally recognized experts in behavioral health. To learn more about the program and how your organization or state agency can partner with Mosaic Group to implement it, contact us at [email protected].