A new journey begins the moment you summon the courage to do things differently. When it comes to self-care, sometimes it means daring yourself out of comfort zones. The day I admitted my life was dependent on another substance was the day my journey began in recovery, and ultimately my journey in rediscovering what self-care looked like. I wanted (and needed) to reevaluate my choices & habits and consider the things I had control over that would continue to improve my life in sobriety. Whether you struggle with addiction or not, self-care takes action and sacrifice. Below are 4 things that have been invaluable to me (the girl who needed simple answers and solutions) as I relearned to practice self-care.
With just a little research on common products you put on your skin and in your body, you’ll be amazed at the different harsh chemicals and preservatives disguised by unpronounceable words and fancy marketing terms. If it’s meant to make a car run, I probably shouldn’t ingest it or lather it all over my skin! With this knowledge, I began switching over to natural products and started to experiment with making my own. Getting sober gave me the drive and extra time to extensively research and test different formulations that were powerful and natural, which ultimately lead to the creation of Steel Birch, my own natural skincare business. When it comes to eating healthy, in all honesty getting over my picky eating habits is a work in progress… but I feel better and have more energy when my diet is healthy! It’s something I care about working towards. Storing and freezing fruits and veggies for a mid-day smoothie has been a game changer! And my skin has improved since eating right and using all natural products… enough so that I wanted to share the products I was making through my business. Making changes to your eating habits/beauty routine little by little is ok too – just as long as you continue improving. Oh, and cigarettes literally tell you that they’ll kill you, and the death statistics back it up. Just quit. It’s pretty uncomfortable at first, but you won’t regret it (if I can, you can too).
In rehab I was dismayed at many of the simple things that were required of me… one was having to make my bed. Surprisingly, I started to feel accomplished after I did it. Why had I never made my bed before? It took little work, I already got something done and I didn’t even have to be awake. A year and a half later, it’s still the first thing I do every morning before my quiet time. I’d compare my morning routine to stretching before a race. I spend about an hour total in prayer, reading, writing, meditating, listening to NPR and centering my thoughts over a cup of coffee. Getting up earlier to have a morning quiet time directs my mind and equips me for the day. I’d recommend it to anyone.
When I am invested in caring for others, I don’t have time for selfish inward thinking. I’ve been taught that my immunity from drinking is contingent on helping my fellow alcoholics. That is why I must attend meetings, introduce myself to the newcomer and give my number for support. But I don’t believe it ends there. Helping other people has taken my recovery to the next level, and I don’t believe you need to be an addict or alcoholic to reap the benefits. There are plenty of people in need right in your own community. Take some time to volunteer at a shelter, campaign for something you believe in, visit elderly in a nursing home… the opportunities are endless. If you don’t have tons of time, pack some snacks or a small lunch in a bag and carry it with you. As you go about your day keep your eyes open and give it away to someone who might be in need. Whether they are thankful or not doesn’t matter, you’ve thought about someone besides yourself. Acts of service, spreading kindness, and being available are ways to share your self-care with others.
I used to believe that being “in the right” and holding onto resentment gave me the upper hand in life. Whether it was harboring anger from big offenses or making sure others knew of their little mistakes, I had a scorecard that measured how upset I deserved to be. Although I learned the hard way, what I considered to be vindication ultimately lead to misery. Though it takes work and commitment to a process, letting go of the wrongs and shortcomings of others has given me a freedom that has definitely improved my overall health. Caring for myself means acknowledging that I’m far from perfect and that I need to stop expecting others to be. When you always “do things right” where is there room for improvement? Choosing to forgive others, even if they had not asked for it, was a heavy weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m sober today because I was given grace and lots of it. Each day, I try to practice giving it back. Don’t get me wrong..It takes work to extend grace whether it’s to the person that cuts me off in traffic, or to the ones who have harmed me in the past, but choosing to work towards this freedom is worth it to me. After all.. a gracious person looks, acts, feels and is healthier than a person full of resentment. Thankfully, desperation, support and plenty of second chances gave me a shot at recovery. Being clear-headed and wide-eyed in a new world, the elimination of drugs and alcohol was just the beginning. I’ve been re-learning how to do life, embracing self-care, smiling a lot, and accepting challenges. At times we may feel like we have very little to offer or we’re incapable..but I urge you to keep pushing and get out of your comfort zone! Launching Steel Birch was an intimidating challenge, but it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I knew that I wanted this to be bigger than just selling natural products, which is why we are using the business as a platform for good. A portion of each of our sales goes to help addicts and alcoholics pay for treatment.
Where will your journey take you? What changes can you make to improve your life little by little? It may be a challenge to get started, but most good things are!
– Courtney Weisel
Founder & CEO, Steel Birch