After working with others for over a quarter century and coaching on a professional level since 2002, I have seen a lot of clients who need a lot of help with self-care. I sit down with my coaching clients to put on paper a plan of action so can that they better take care of themselves. When my sober coaching clients take care of their bodies, they are in a much more resourcesful state to address stress and any intense emotions that may arise, be they in early or long-term recovery.
This blog is about maintaining an emotional and physical balance: practicing self-care, getting enough sleep, eating balanced and frequent meals, and refraining from isolation by creating and maintaining fellowship with others in recovery.
When I got clean and sober at 22 (1984), I had no clue how to take care of my body. My diet and sleep patterns were all over the map and I was prone to isolate for long periods of time. However, by making a conscientious effort to eat and sleep with regularity and refraining from isolating by attending daily meetings, I slowly learned how to practice appropriate self-care.
All of the elements of HALT are interrelated. For example, if most people don’t get enough sleep or skip a meal, they are often more susceptible to getting angry. Going to bed angry or hungry can also interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep and leave you more prone to isolate the next day.
Learn to eat balanced and healthy meals at consistent times. A healthy diet will affect every area of your life and will help keep you emotionally balanced. Avoid fast food like the plague.
When I was in early recovery, I made a serious effort to eat meals at specific times, even if I wasn’t hungry. This helps to keep me on track by not skipping meals or waiting until my blood sugar drops to eat. It also helps me stay away from junk food and sugar binging on jumbo candy bars. I am in my 33rd year of recovery now, and I am taking it another level by making fresh organic vegetable juice with almonds and protein powder before going to bed at night, so I’ll have a supercharger to get me going in the morning.
Getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals will help with anger issues. People experience and deal with their anger differently depending on their background. Don’t be afraid to seek outside help in this area. Furthermore, attending daily meetings and spending time with others on the same path as you can be very comforting when dealing with adversity and setbacks that can often lead to anger.
Unchecked resentments (fourth step) is often cited as the number one offender leading to relapse. Some people describe resentment as having conversations with people that are not in the room. When I was in my second year of recovery, I was experiencing a lot of anger because the fog was beginning to clear from my mind. My sponsor at the time suggested I do another fourth step to address the anger. To my surprise, it was very effective in helping me cope with the anger I was experiencing, and it laid the groundwork and for the rest of the steps later in the year.
In many respects, alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases of isolation. By going to meetings and working with others, you will learn how to isolate less over time. I often hear my clients say they haven’t been clean and sober long enough to help others. It’s important to point out that there are so many service commitments one can do independent of sponsorship that can be tremendously beneficial.
An alcoholic or drug addict alone is oftentimes in bad company. Granted, there is a profound difference between being lonely and being alone. When I say lonely, I am referring to is when a person would be better served in the company of others who are preferably also on the path of recovery. Personally, I feel the presence of a higher power when I am working with another person in recovery because it’s a power greater than myself.
Getting a good night’s sleep is so essential for emotional and physical health. Getting a solid amount of shuteye will put you in a more resourceful position to address anything that might throw you off during the day, as well as help you make more judicious choices throughout the day. A major percentage of automobile accidents occur because of sleep deprivation.
I am a big advocate of acupuncture for sleep issues, and acupuncture has helped many of my sober coaching/recovery clients. Anxiety causes lack of sleep and lack of sleep causes anxiety: it can be a vicious cycle. Yoga and acupuncture are excellent methods for reestablishing sleep patterns, as is just about any aerobic exercise.
In closing, all of these factors are interrelated and have a tremendous influence on our emotional well-being. What I have just presented here doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface regarding HALT, but I hope I got you thinking about how you can make your recovery easier. If you would like to know more about my sober coaching services, please contact me for a life changing discussion. You have the ability to change your life.