No matter where we are in our recovery, some days (or weeks, etc) we struggle. Life throws us challenges that we did not expect or we are under more stress or some other scenario. No matter what it is, we find ourselves tempted back into our behaviors and disorders. But instead we must do what seems the impossible, as always, and fight.
During times of struggle, I find the best way for me to fight back is to go back to the basics of recovery. The basics of recovery are different for everyone because everyone is different. However, the same general rules apply. The basics include (but at not limited to): emotional, physical, food, and spiritually.
- Reach out for support/help from family, friends, or team members. Sometimes you do not even have to say anything. Texting with a friend or chatting with them on Facebook is a good way to get connected. Remember: do not isolate yourself.
- Remember what you have learned in therapy/treatment. Use those CBT, DBT, or other skills. It can be really hard to remember them when things are so difficult, but refresh your memory with books you have used, friends, or your therapist. If all else fails, think: is this helping me or hurting me? (PS: Rumination is never a good idea.)
- One of my basics of recovery, which I recommend for everyone, is to have fun every day. It may sound easy and silly, but it truly works. Leave the house/apartment and go to the beach or the park or a sporting event (Go Seahawks!) or whatever else you enjoy! Just have some fun or at least what has been fun. Remind yourself of why recovery is worth it and what makes you happy.
- Be kind and gentle towards yourself. Have compassion. You are hurting and struggling. How would you treat a friend in your situation?
- Celebrate yourself. Your accomplishments, no matter how small, matter. On those really tough days, getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Every meal is an accomplishment. Be proud. Focus on those positives and what you did do rather than the negatives and what you did not do.
- Be grateful. Use gratitude every day.
- Get up, brush your teeth, shower, etc. Care for your most basic needs.
- Get enough sleep, try not to oversleep.
- If exercise is not permitted for you, then do not engage in it.
- When I struggle, I go back to basics with my food as well. I stop “challenge” foods for a time and stick with the more “safe” foods until I feel more solid and on my feet again. It is really helpful for me to eliminate as much challenge as possible at meal time when meals are already challenging during a period of struggle. This is a temporary change and not a change in recovery. If this becomes a pattern or habit, then I would reach out for more support from professionals.
- Follow your meal plan or eat mindfully. Stick to your recovery and care for your nutritional needs, especially right now.
- Drink enough water. When I find it difficult to drink water, I add flavoring such as a lemon.
- Keep going to church and praying. If you have not gone in a while, think about going again. If you have not prayed, try saying a little prayer.
The next time you are struggling, try going back to the basics of your recovery. What does that look like for you? Try mapping out your basics before you struggle so that if you do you are prepared. Remember: take good self-care always!