How to look after yourself in difficult times
By Anna Ruggiero
Freelance Writer and Helpline Volunteer at DrugFAM
At DrugFAM, we know that loving someone who is gambling or using drugs, alcohol or substances in a harmful way is not only extremely distressing to witness, but it can also be exhausting and damaging to your own mental health. Hours and even days can pass on a rollercoaster of emotions when a loved one is suffering with addiction and before realising it, you have neglected your own wellbeing. This can often leave you feeling drained, confused, anxious and/or depressed.
Have you been sleeping too much or not enough? Have you neglected other relationships? Have you stopped doing things you enjoy like a favourite hobby? Are you eating too much or not enough?
The above are all signs of neglecting your own self, which is common when you are trying to support someone who is gambling or using drugs, alcohol and substances in a harmful way.
Have you come across the saying ‘You cannot pour from an empty cup’? It is vital that you look after yourself first – you need to be strong for your loved one, especially when they are ready to start the journey of recovery.
Below are some suggestions that have helped our clients here at DrugFAM take care of themselves during difficult times:
- Seek support: It might seem an impossible thought right now but trust us, you are not alone and the more you reach out to other people, the more supported and safer you will feel.
We run a helpline at DrugFAM that is open seven days a week from 9am to 9pm. Many of our clients feel a huge sense of relief at being able to talk to our trained support team and realise that they no longer have to cope on their own. The number to call is 0300 888 3853. We can offer practical advice but most of all, we are here to listen without judgment.
By speaking to someone outside of the situation you will feel lighter and may find this helps your relationships with others improve as you can enjoy your time with them more, rather than feeling anxious or worried all the time.
If at this stage, calling feels overwhelming, you can get in touch by completing our Contact Form – Link to contact form page.
At DrugFAM, we also run support groups where you can meet with other people who have been through similar experiences. Many of our clients find support groups a great comfort as it rids them of the feeling of isolation. For more details click here (Link to – www.drugfam.co.uk/active-addiction) or complete our Contact Form (Link to contact form) to find out how to join. Due to Covid-19, our support groups are currently all online.
- Switch off: Many of our clients have told us that their mobile phones can be constantly ringing with demands for money from those they are supporting. This can be extremely distressing especially if you are feeling manipulated or made to feel guilty for saying no.
If you are feeling harassed, it is okay to take steps towards stopping this from happening. We will often encourage our clients to take some time out for themselves by switching off their phone at some point during the day or at night when they are sleeping. It is amazing the difference this can make to your own mental health. Even it is just for an hour, you can switch off from the situation and get some peace. Your mind needs a break and by switching off your phone, no matter for how long, will give you a well-deserved break.
- Move: Moving your body is not only good for fitness but it will give you an emotional rest too. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle stroll to make you feel better within yourself. A change of scenery can also do wonders for your spirits and help you to refocus your attention.
- Nature knows best: Studies all point towards fact that nature is good for our wellbeing. Taking some out to visit the countryside or even just your local park, will once again help you to feel more centred and able to face difficult situations with a bit more ease.
- Be in the moment: It is amazing the difference it can make when you refocus your attention. Meditation is great for clearing your mind and easing anxiety. YouTube has plenty of beginner meditation videos offering guided meditation. Again, you do not have to be an expert and often even just 10 minutes listening to guided meditation can clear your mind and make you feel calmer. If meditation is not for you, even making the effort to sit and watch a film will do you good. The key thing here is that you do something that gives you a psychological rest.
You deserve the love you show so willingly to others so please make sure you take care of yourself first.
This article is the start of a series of pieces that aim to support our clients during difficult times as we know that now, more than ever, support is vital.
Would you like to know more about our support groups? Is your loved one thinking about recovery and you would like to know how you can support them? Do you have an interest in volunteering with us? Healthy relationships – when is it time to say no?
These are just a few examples of what you can expect during the coming months and please feel free to contact me as I would love to hear your thoughts.