Maintenance is Self-Care & Necessary to Sobriety

Early recovery was one of the most anxious times of my life. It took me awhile to figure out that self-care is necessary to maintain sobriety.  I was missing this key ingredient to relapse prevention for quite sometime. And I paid the big ticket relapse price. Maintenance is necessary to remain sober.

In early sobriety, I was totally emotionally bankrupt. My inner state was full of chaos and confusion. I had never felt so unsure; a total lack of confidence.  I had a lot of self-doubt that I wanted to cart off by the truckloads. It paralyzed me. There was a lack of trust too.  Trusting myself and trusting others were nonexistent.  Everyone was walking on eggshells around me. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. This enormous sense of unworthiness took up all the space inside me.

Physically I felt lousy.  My digestion system was always in turmoil and it was messing with my appetite.  I was skipping meals and then eating too much because I was so hungry. Food became a total annoyance. I never made time for it. And I was not selective at all about what I put in my body.

I was constantly tired.  Sluggishness clung to me like a cold winter wind. I just could not shake it.  I would go to bed so exhausted and lie there not able to sleep.  Days I could sleep-in I would be up at dawn wide-awake.  I was sleepy when I needed to be awake and awake when I should have been asleep.

I knew that I was not meeting some of my own most basic physical needs and this was affecting me mentally and emotionally.  Basic self-care habits regarding nutrition, water intake, and adequate sleep had been missing in my life for a quite some time.   It was affecting me negatively both mentally and emotionally.

It occurred to me that I had to somehow get out of my own way and create a road map that would heal and sustain my internal environment.  A sort of housecleaning had to take place for the way I was treating myself physically.  I began to see that my lack of self-care was feeding my negative emotional state. One was connected to the other. A plan for self-care, which was never a strong point of mine, seemed necessary to maintaining my sobriety.

But I had no idea where to begin.  My head was already spinning with all the recommendations and suggestions from the well-meaning people around me.  Go to meetings. Get a sponsor.  Go to the doctors. Find a therapist. Exercise.  Eat three meals a day. Take vitamins. Go to bed early. Get up early. Do this. Do that.

Yikes!  I was totally overwhelmed.  It did not help that I had no motivation, felt totally defeated, and had nagging and reoccurring doubts and fears that sometimes made me wonder, “why bother?”

It was suggested to me to start simple and build from there. Some quick easy successes would help me to stay motivated and would build momentum.

Self- Care: A Road Map For The Basics

My eating patterns being totally off were working against me.  This food thing had me totally perplexed. A good friend of mine had a very healthy diet and seemed to have this aspect of her life together so I asked her for some tips.  She had excellent advice.  She helped me to make small simple changes that were totally doable and not to difficult.

For example, I started drinking more water.  It helped to track how much I drank on a daily basis.  I did not start off with some lofty goal.  Just drink a full glass of water in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening.  I knew I was supposed to have more than this but I had to start small to feel successful and in order to stay motivated. It was a beginning.

Next I added in eating salad and fruit whenever I could.  I just became conscious of trying to eat more raw veggies and fruits.  No big deal.  I was surprised at how easy it was to add these into my diet. I committed to eating one salad a day.  It seemed to be helping my mental and emotional states as I began to feel good for taking care of myself.


It was easy to get caught up in thinking that I was not doing enough or doing it right.  That is my default-mode thinking.  So I gave myself permission to keep it simple and doable.  And when I did not meet my own standards, I was ok with that.  I let go of having to do it perfectly.  This was a huge relief.  To my surprise, this realization began to seep into other areas of my life too. These is what that slogan “let go” means.

I did not stop eating what some may consider junk food.  I just added in more raw veggies and fruit.  To my amazement, I began to crave more fresh fruits and salads then junk food.  Over time, the balance tipped and I was consuming more healthy foods and less unhealthy ones. When I took the pressure off and held the goal lightly, it seemed to go much better.

I also stopped skipping meals.  Even if I was not hungry at mealtimes I would have a little something. Slowly, my digestion system started to heal and I began to feel a lot better. maintenance

The Importance of Sleep

Regarding sleep, I had a habit of staying up too late and then getting up late and feeling rushed and stressed in the morning. This really started each day off with me feeling grouchy and unsatisfied. So I started going to bed at a set time.  I tried 10:00pm but that was just too early for me.  I would lie there awake and my anxiety would amp up.  So I tried 10:30pm. Most nights I was asleep by 11:00pm.  This was a huge improvement over 12:30am, 1:00am, or sometimes 1:30am that I was experiencing before. I tried to get eight hours of sleep whenever I could.  My sleep plan did not go perfectly every night.  Like with my eating, I held it lightly and overtime I started to wake up most days feeling rested and ready for the day.

In early sobriety the body and soul are still healing.  I found out that my water intake, nutrition, and sleep patterns really matter.  When I started to take better care of myself, I started to feel more confident and worthy.  I actually started to like me!  The momentum began to build and one twenty-four hours of sobriety became another twenty-four. Before I knew it, days turned into weeks which turned into months and I was putting some clean and sober time together.   

In early sobriety, I discovered out that self-care is necessary to maintain sobriety.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

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