“A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” – This is SAMHSA’s working definition of recovery. this could be recovery from Mental Health or Physical Health concerns.
Recently I have seen a good many clients that have come in reporting very similar symptoms. They feel somewhat down or even distressed. They are functioning relatively okay with work and home but feel like they have lost their way. They report feeling empty, tired, anxious. Most of these individuals have been very involved in family and/or community. They have been the family coordinators, the church volunteers, the community activists.
When looking at the above working definition of recovery, these folks are definitely self directive, but somehow the other two areas of health and wellness and full potential have been overshadowed by others needs (others in their own family and others in the community). When using the needs assessment tool I incorporate into my practice (the DLA20), it is clear that many facets of their life have been neglected and continue to be drained. There’s just not enough nourishment and recovery built into their lives to keep pace with all the other routines in their life.
We live in a society of go, go, go. Ample supplies of caffeine and energy supplements. Ample supplies of foods and other items to grab quickly from moving to one activity to another. We more and more are getting out of habits of nourishment and allowing for our bodies to recover. Recovery is not just a mental feat but very much a physical feat as well. We have to develop healthy routines to nourish our bodies and brain. These routines have to be consistent in order to make an impact. Just like we consistently go to the coffee pot, check Facebook, or volunteer to help another, we need to consistently eat nourishing foods, take time for some quiet, and get some stress relieving physical activity. But how? It sounds simple but if it were that simple we wouldn’t have this problem of course.
The trick is to begin by connecting one activity to another. The activity can be good or bad. If you drink coffee every morning or check Facebook before bed on a consistent basis, then these are great activities to link with more nourishing habits like 10 slow breaths or eating an apple. Once you have successfully linked these habits consistently you can build in more healthy habits like a walk or some yoga. It’s better to start small though. Later you may decide to even phase out the original activity, especially if it was doing more harm than good. Getting overwhelmed and not doing anything at all is not an option if you want to stop the cycle of constant drain, low energy, and feeling like you’re in a fog.
Sometimes we need reminders, so setting timers, getting others involved are great ways to ensure more consistency. Also subscribing to a blog whether it is mine or another wellness author could also be a good way to get a tickler to continue to work on developing healthier practices. As with much in life persistence against failure eventually develops consistency regardless, so keep trying.