By Andrea Seydel Author of Saving You Is Killing Me: Loving Someone with an Addiction
Making Self-Care Daily Habits
So why should we love and care for ourselves? Whether it’s going to your favourite spa, relaxing in a yoga class, or just allowing some time to rest in bed, ‘me time’ is something we require to rest and recharge, to take a pause, and to take stock of our lives mindfully. It is a beautiful support tool that we can use to grow, evolve, and expand who we are and ultimately makes us feel good about ourselves on all levels. Self-care is about actively using coping strategies and skills to improve our well-being to manage our lives better.
When someone you love is abusing substances, the damage of addiction and focus is usually placed on the addict. While all of this concern is placed on the addict, you may be neglecting yourself and your own needs. Chances are loving someone with an addiction has taken a toll on your mental and physical health. Loving someone with an addiction is an enormous stressor: sleepless nights, worrying, inconsistency in your life, feelings of hopelessness and sadness, as well as anger and frustration… Stress plays a fantastic role in the decline of our well-being. The time, energy, and concern that we put towards our loved ones deplete our resources and puts a strain on our lives.
Self-care involves basic human necessities that we can cultivate and nurture. It is about confidence, warmth, caring regard and acceptance of who and what you are and showing it. Loving an addict can often feel like a perpetual rollercoaster, filled with emotions such as anger, sadness, hate, joy, disbelief, and disappointment. It’s not surprising that our well-being is greatly affected. There is no question that the addicted love one needs help, but you also need to help yourself.
Self-care involves taking the necessary steps to look after yourself and loving all aspects of yourself by accepting your flaws and weaknesses and valuing your strengths. It is sometimes initially thought of as selfish, but improving your well-being makes you better able to help your loved ones needing support. When we push ourselves to the maximum and don’t practise self-care, we can experience a sense of burnout, ego depletion, and compassion fatigue. These results are widespread among people caring for someone with an addiction. What happens is you are no longer able to maintain a level of caring or interest because your resources are depleted.
Thankfully there are ways that you can help yourself when you love someone with an addiction. Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family. Self-care is critical for both you and the addicted love one in your life. Science has shown that self-care can lower the negative impact of current and past stress, also known as damage control. It has also been shown to reduce the adverse effects of future stress, also known as prevention.
Forming Atomic and Keystone Habits as a way to Self-Care:
In the book ATOMIC HABITS: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, James Clear talks about how tiny changes create remarkable results. Have you heard the expression: “massive success requires massive action?” I am sure you have. BUT small improvements have shown to accumulate into remarkable results! It is easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements daily. Clear talks about how the effects of small habits compound over time. Habits are the compound interest in self-improvement. The same way money multiplies through compound interest, the impact of your habits multiplies as you repeat them. Here are some of his tips to implement new habits and get rid of old habits you don’t want anymore:
1. FOCUS ON SYSTEMS: Instead of focusing on goals, try focusing on the daily systems you put into place. The outcome has very little to do with the goal itself but rather the day-to-day plans you put into place.
2. ASK YOURSELF: Asking the question, “Are you becoming the type of person you want to become?” What do you need to do regularly to get closer to this person? You choose your identity and reinforce it with habits. Today your habits matter because they form your identity and help you achieve all the things you want to become. You become your habits.
3. DEFINE YOUR HABITS: The best way to change our behaviour is to make habits that are obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying! What new habits do you desire for yourself? Are they obvious, attractive, easy, and pleasurable? Write them out and start small. Be consistent!
4. HABIT TRACK: Track your daily progress. Make a list of daily actions you’d like to start to get closer to the identity you desire for yourself. If you want to have more peace in your life, for example, a daily action might meditate at bedtime—track on a calendar your daily mediations.
5. CONSIDER KEYSTONE HABITS: In the Book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about keystone habits. These are the habits that automatically lead to multiple positive behaviours and positive effects in your life. Some keystone habits might be: waking up early, morning workout, morning ritual, meditating, planning out your day/week. What are your keystone habits? What action automatically makes other positive behaviours and has a positive effect on your life?
If you can’t do anything about it, let it go. There comes a time when you realize you can’t try hard enough for another person. Self-care will allow you to start living instead of merely existing. It will build up your ability to self-regulate and contribute to your well-being. Life is a precious gift. It is important to remember that taking care of yourself is also part of your many responsibilities.
For further support: Do not hesitate to listen to the SYKM podcast or purchase the book
You can also reach out to Andrea Seydel herself at www.andreaseydel.com
Here is the SYKM Podcast link: http://apple.co/38p1OMU