It's so important that the families and friends who have loved ones with addiction can maintain their own well being through their addiction. Addiction can be incredibly chaotic, cause severe anxiety, and turn you into a person you don't recognize...and that's for the families not just the addict/alcoholic.
So it's important to remember to take care of yourself so you can be grounded in your decision making and to remain sharp and vigilant throughout the turmoil not just for your sake but for theirs as well.
So here are 5 things to remain focused on for your own self care.
1. Remember to breathe
It sounds soooooo simple. But in stressful times we can often forget to breathe. And not remembering to breathe can biologically send your body unintentionally into survival mode. If you have felt like you are having a hard time sleeping or having a lot of anxiety, it's partly because you are and you are not remembering to take deep breaths throughout your day. A good practice breathing exercise you can use is the box breath. It's simple, you DON'T have to close yourself off somewhere and meditate and it goes like this:
Breathe in 4 seconds -> Hold the breath for 4 seconds -> Breathe out 4 seconds-> Hold the breath 4 seconds-> and keep doing that over and over. Do this for 5-10 minutes whenever you feel stressed and you will be amazed at how much of a difference this makes.
2. Change your physical state
Whenever you get really stressed out, it's important to move your body to release that energy you can build up and by changing your physical state, you will change your mental state. It won't cure the problem but just sitting still will feed your worry. It can be as simple as going and taking a walk.
3. Focus on the good things
It's ok to focus on the positive things in your life. The things you are most grateful for. You may be so upset, scared, and angry you just said to yourself "WHAT GOOD THINGS?" If your loved one woke up today, that's something to be grateful for 7,400 people didn't wake up today. (That's how many people on average die a day in general, not just overdoses).
4. Connect with other people
When we are stressed out, we have a tendency to want to isolate. Especially if we don't want to tell other people what's going on in our lives. But, force yourself to connect with others. Find group hobbies. This is why people suggest going to al-anon/nar-anon but maybe that isn't for you, maybe it is. If it's not for you, find yourself a community, maybe it's a bible study. Maybe it's a hobby, a meditation group, a networking group. Just get out of the house and go connect with others. You don't have to tell them what is going on if that's too personal but you can find comfort. Who knows, you may run into someone dealing with the same thing you are and you can be there for each other.
5. Get sleep
I intentionally put this one last, because if you are doing well with the first 4 tips, then this will come easier. But if it is still difficult after you've been practicing the first 4, then the thing that is left to do is let yourself off the hook. Meaning, you are busy grieving someone that is not dead yet and it keeps you up at night. I've had to learn repeatedly to never grieve the undead. You can't, it will drive you crazy. Grieve only when it is time to grieve and give yourself permission to let it go and let God take care of things in the meantime.
Sometimes the only thing we feel like we have any control over is our worry, so it's the only thing we end up doing and letting that go seems like we would be relinquishing whatever control we have and the minute we do that, they will die. It's a lie though. The only thing worry does is make it harder to take care of ourselves.
Give yourself permission to continue to live your life. It will make a huge impact on them.
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