How to Practice Self-Care During a Crisis

How to Practice Self-Care During a Crisis

When we love someone suffering from addiction, living in a chaotic, out of control environment can become our norm. And especially if you’re choosing to stay, knowing how to practice self-care in a crisis is imperative.

Today, we’re in the middle of a series where we’re talking about several helpful tips. They’re specifically designed just for you, not the one you love. About how to find our happiness and joy, whether our loved ones get sober or not. And for those of you that are new, because we are getting hundreds of new ladies coming in every day, this is something we believe in. We do not believe in waiting around for somebody to get sober for us to start to feel better. Why? Because that is handing over our power.

That is making us feel helpless and perhaps sorry for ourselves. Or maybe even victims or martyrs, and we are none of those.

We are strong, courageous women who were very capable before loving somebody suffering from addiction and nothing has changed. 

We are as capable or more capable of creating that life that we love with them in it and sometimes without them in it. And knowing how to practice self-care when we’re in crisis mode is essential.

There’s no judgment in our community ever.

Leave, stay, the decision is up to you. You’re never going to hear me tell you to do one or the other. What I’m going to do, and my entire purpose and why I’ve been doing this for nine years, is to empower you.

To help you understand how capable, how strong, how loving, and how wonderful you are. I want to be that voice that is louder than the voice of addiction inside of your head telling you that this future of yours, it can be beautiful. It can be better than anything you can ever think of. Anything you’ve ever imagined, it can be everything you’ve always wanted.

And because I am your friend and I am your sister, I am going to be real with you, and I’m going to tell you, sister, you cannot get there without doing work. There’s no shortcut. There’s no easy way out. And there’s no waiting around. This is work. This is your opportunity in your life to be called and to step into something and someone that you have been destined to become.

Addiction is the greatest thing that can ever happen to you.

This is an opportunity, and I know and I believe in you. You can do the work that you are called to do.

In our community, and on this podcast, I’m going to teach you exactly what to do because I don’t believe in a lot of self-help fluff. I don’t believe in a lot of us just sitting around a circle feeling sorry for ourselves, sharing our stories.

However, I do believe in you. In you walking away, well, not physically walking away, but metaphorically walking away, anytime that you listen to me, whether it’s in our programs or it’s on this podcast, my goal is for you to walk away feeling empowered, feeling capable, feeling slightly more confident than when you started listening to me, and also knowing exactly what to do – tangible, real-life things, not a bunch of fluff.

With all that said, let’s get into our latest tip. And this is probably the trendiest tip that I’m going to share with you in this series. 

It’s called self-care.

And particularly, self-care when you’re in a crisis. This, I am aware, is going to have some of you rolling your eyes right now… Because who the heck isn’t talking about self-care right now. And particularly if you have a social media account on Instagram, but here’s the deal.

The truth about self-care is that it looks different for everyone. 

Self-care, especially during a crisis is something that you and I have been neglecting for a very long time.

Because we’re putting all of our care and our thought and our effort and our energy into getting the one we love sober. And to help them or trying to teach them what their disease is doing to us, and that is not cool. It’s not okay, and we are going to stop doing that.

Instead of using that energy and placing it outside of ourselves, we are going to preserve that energy for ourselves. We are going to hold that energy and use it for us. We’re going to use it for our healing and for our growth and for our self-improvement.

Self-care, even in a crisis, can look like the typical things that everyone’s talking about. It can look like a bubble bath at night, which it does for me, and I know that people make fun of people that say that, but that is true for me. A bubble bath and 20 minutes of alone time where I lock the door to my bathroom and I don’t let my kids in, that is something I look forward to throughout the day. It does it for me.

When I know that I am stressed, I can give myself that reprieve at the end of the evening, and I know that I have something to look forward to. 

Here’s the other thing:

Self-care in a crisis could look like walking around the block or walking around with a friend.

There was a season in my life where I did, chose one friend, and we went for a quick, brisk walk 20 minutes every morning. We met up before the kids got up from bed, and we went on a quick walk, and it just invigorated me. It was something I could look forward to, and it really bonded me and this particular friend.  And we didn’t have to have huge, long lunches or super long walks because we were caught up to date with everything because we saw each other so often. It could look like a walk with a friend or a walk with a dog. It could be you walking around the neighborhood with a pair of earbuds listening to one of our programs

There are other ways you can do self-care, even during a crisis. If you’re a gardener or have always been interested in growing your own vegetables, this can be a great form of self-care. I know a lot of people that even buy chickens to lay their own eggs.

I don’t know if any of you guys have seen Jennifer Garner’s Instagram account. If you have not, she’s adorable, and she has chickens. I, myself, not quite interested in that, but I love watching people who do. I think it’s precious. Maybe that’s your thing. 

Baking and cooking, that does it for me, too.

Taking on a Sunday night and mapping out my menu, knowing that I’m feeding my family healthy foods, and preparing the foods with love.

The other example of self-care, in a crisis or not, is working out.

I don’t particularly love working out. I don’t make that a secret. I’m just not that girl. I don’t get it. I wish I had that gene, but there are some women I know who love working out and feel lazy when they don’t work out. That’s not me, I am not of that camp. I totally feel completely fine if I don’t work out, at all, but I have to do it, because I don’t know about you guys, but when I am done with a workout and I’m sweating that gross sweat, I feel so stinking good, no pun intended there. I feel really good. After my workout, I normally take 5-10 minutes to grab a glass of water. I usually work out at home, and just congratulate myself. I’m so proud of myself.

My husband does the same thing. He has one of those bikes with the video on it. Anyways, it starts with a P, Pentalon or … I don’t know (edit: it’s Peloton). He does this bike, and, afterward, when he’s done, he’s sweaty and gross. He’ll walk over to every member of the family and start a conversation with them because he wants everyone to know that he’s worked out. Like he’s so proud of himself. I know that’s why he does it. He doesn’t know that’s why he does it, but I know that. For me, I wouldn’t necessarily say by any stretch of the imagination I enjoy the 30 or 60 minutes that I’m working out.

But I know the feeling of gratitude afterward, and that is a form of self-care, crisis or not.

I also love how my body looks and feels when I am strong. When I’m physically strong. I love knowing and seeing my muscles toned, and I love just knowing … This sounds ridiculous, but if there was an emergency, I imagine if my kid was stuck under a rock or something, I could move the rock if I needed to. There’s some sense of empowerment that comes from physically being strong, as well as mentally. That is a form of self-care for me. 

Another form of self-care for me is hiking and getting out in nature.

I used this form of self-care over and over again when I was in crisis mode.

I love trees, I love water, I love walking if there’s a forest. And I love listening to the birds and listening to the crunch of the leaves when my footsteps over them. I love seeing spider webs, not anywhere near me, but off in the distance. I love being in nature. There’s something incredibly soothing about that.

I live in Florida, and there’s not a lot of hiking and not a lot of woods where I live because I live in Tampa. But my neighbor that lives on the other side of me is a gardener, and she’s grown these beautiful bushes and trees that are super colorful. Just this morning, before anybody else was up, I grabbed a cup of coffee, and I sat at the kitchen table, and I just stared at her trees and her leaves, and it just brought me a couple moments of joy and complete gratitude for my neighbor and for her gardening because that is not a skill I possess.

Think about ways that you can bring little moments of joy or victories into your life.

They can be easy to practice, like sitting at a table with a coffee, or it might be that your form of self-care might require discipline. 

It might require you to do something challenging, mentally or physically, but you know that the reward is going to be huge. But, either way, I used the word discipline a moment ago, and I think that when you’re experiencing trauma, when you’re experiencing chaos and dysfunction in your life, which comes hand in hand with loving someone suffering from addiction, it’s crazy-making.

When you’re going through those difficult moments, the chaos and the dysfunction can feel so urgent and so distracting that it can be very easy to put your self-care practice to the side, and so having the discipline, being a disciplined woman is a sign of maturity.

It’s a sign of growth.

Think about it. The most successful women you can think of, the happiest women, the women who have really contributed to the world in an effective way and to her family, most likely they are incredibly disciplined women.

Authors have to be incredibly disciplined. Employees, any line of work, or even parents need to be disciplined about the attention that they give their children or the consequences they give their children.

Discipline is a life skill that every one of us needs to learn. 

One more thing that I just thought of, another form of self-care can actually be eating right. When you’re doing that meal planning and when you’re cooking, part of what makes me feel good is that I know I’m putting nourishing food into my children’s mouths. I’m paying attention to what vitamins I’m offering them, what nutrients I’m providing them.

By the way, they might not always enjoy it. I don’t care. I’ve got too many mouths to feed. You don’t like it. You’re still eating it. Most of it’s organic. I’ve paid quite a bit of money for it, and it’s good for you, and so you are going to sit at this table and you’re going to finish this food. And I will sit with you and we can talk all day long if we need to, but you are going to finish this food. That’s my policy for my kids, and that’s the policy for myself that I try very hard to live by, which is having discipline 80% of the time with caring for my body and what I put into it. 

That is a practice of self-care that I started using after my divorce because, during my divorce and during my marriage, I had gained a tremendous amount of weight and was considered obese, I think. I’m not sure if technically I was or not, but it was not great. Consider that, as well. 

What areas in your life have you been neglecting?

And what areas in your life do you need to practice discipline with self-care that you can really bring yourself back to life, where you can really resurrect that part of you that’s been crying out, that needs attention, that deserves to be fed, that deserves to be nurtured and cared for?

Make a list today. This is your homework, guys. Make a list of 10 things. They can be simple, or they can be huge. 10 things that you would like to do, and pick one every day. Definitely don’t do 10 because then you’re going to get overwhelmed. Do ten, and you’re going to quit, but do one form, one practice of self-care every day, and in order to do that, you’re going to be disciplined, and I promise, if you put this practice into place, you’re going to feel more in control of your life.

The addiction, the attention of addiction will grow smaller, and the attention to yourself will grow larger. You will be a happier and healthier person, and you’re not going to wake up dreading the day because you know you’re going to give yourself one practice of self-care every day that you can look forward to. 

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.

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