Wellness Tools – 5 most effective & useful recovery tools

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Now that I have almost 6 years of continuous sobriety, I feel I’m ready to pass on all the knowledge I’ve learned over the years. It’s in my nature to help people (I’m the epitome of a “fixer” personality lol) and I feel that sharing these wellness tools I’ve learned through my recovery can only help others.

This is not to say I don’t get cravings anymore that really suck, or slide into a manic episode and get lost in my mind. But I now know how to deal with these things in a healthy way! So without further adieu, here are the top 5 things everyone should have in their wellness “toolbox”:

  1. HALT!! No, I’m not telling you to stop. HALT means Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired and if you attend to those things, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. As a person in recovery who lives with 2 chronic illnesses, these things are of the utmost importance. Basically, all this acronym means is that if you take care of your most basic needs, you are setting yourself up for success! You will feel better both physically and mentally. To learn more about HALT, click here.
  2. Have a YOU day (at least once a week if you can) where the day is all about YOU! Binge your favorite Netflix series and chill on the couch all day, take a nap, take a walk outside, read that book you’ve been wanting to dive into… but whatever you do, it should be to benefit YOU! It is NOT selfish to put yourself first and make YOU a priority. For those of us who work in the field of addiction/mental health, it’s even MORE important to do this to avoid burnout, compassion fatigue, and a host of other issues. And for those of us in recovery, taking care of YOU should be your absolute #1 priority!
  3. Be thankful! For the little AND the big things in your life! This one can really put things into perspective for you and make you feel better on even your worst days. I actually do a weekly check in with myself where I make a list of some of the things I’m grateful for and it helps remind me how far I’ve come in my recovery and in my life in general. Here is a wonderful article about the benefits of making a gratitude list: https://www.chriswinfield.com/gratitude-lists/
  4. See a therapist, if necessary. There is NO shame in asking for and seeking out help for feeling sad or depressed or manic or anxious! I see a therapist twice a month and have been doing so for the last 10 years and it helps me IMMENSELY! I debated whether to include this tool in this list but finally figured that since it helped ME, it’s bound to help someone else! There are some wonderful therapists out there, therapists who’ve been where we’ve been… some of them are in recovery themselves! If you’re not comfortable talking to a therapist, seek out a Peer Support Worker. I’m a Certified Peer Specialist which is similar to a therapist except it’s NON CLINICAL! I help people by meeting them where they’re at, no matter where that is. I help them help themselves by arming them with knowledge about benefits, where to get them, how they better their life all around. And the greatest part about peer support is that it’s more of a friend/mentor relationship than a clinical relationship.
  5. Find a hobby. Even though this one sounds simple, keeping busy is one of the BEST ways to deal with mental health issues or addiction cravings. That old saying “Idle hands are the devil’s playground” applies here. Boredom can cause some of the worst cravings… but also depression, anxiety, and isolation. That’s why having something to do that you ENJOY makes all the difference for someone in recovery! Do you like sports? Join a local sports team and make some new friends. Do you like to doodle or draw? Take an art class at your local art museum or simply watch some YouTube videos about what you want to do and get going! Learn to play an instrument, start going to the gym, create a blog and get your thoughts out for the world to see… but whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s something you really enjoy and not something that feels like a chore. This one is one of my favorites because I did this about a year and a half ago with art. I had always loved to draw but I really wanted to broaden my horizons and learn to do EVERY kind of art, lol. So I taught myself and slowly built up a huge collection of art supplies. Now I can’t go a day without doing some kind of art!

If anyone is interested in learning more about wellness tools and how to make yourself feel better, there’ s a wonderful thing out there called WRAP – Wellness Recovery Action Plan and you can make one for just about anything. Here is the link to their wellness toolbox page with some more great ideas you can do for yourself! http://mentalhealthrecovery.com/info-center/wellness-toolbox/.

I hope you found this post insightful and informative. And I leave you with the knowledge that you are loved, you are light, and you are BEAUTIFUL!!


First Blog Post Ever… and a little about me!

Here I am! Writing my first blog post EVER! I’m honestly not sure why I didn’t do this years ago but past is past right? So you all have to bear with me while I figure this shit out, ok?

If you read the Who Am I page of my blog, then you know what this whole thing is all about. What you don’t know is why I’m doing this, how I got sober, what I do for work, or how I learned to become an artist. So I thought I’d share a little bit about my background with all you beautiful, wonderful souls.

First of all, I created this blog for a couple different reasons. One was to spread as much info and love on the healing power of art and then show people simple tutorials so that they can create beautiful pieces of art, even if they have no art experience at all! I wanted to make things simple for people to create things that make them feel good…. things that make them happy… things they can give as gifts…

The other reason I created this blog was to show people that RECOVERY IS REAL! No matter what addiction, mental illness, etc… you may have, people can and DO recover. And art and creativity in general can sometimes facilitate that recovery! I want people to see how creativity has affected my life in a positive way. I’m all about sharing as many skills, techniques, strategies, as I can to help people realize their creative potential and to also get and maintain their sobriety!

We’re all beautiful fucking rock stars! And I’m here to help you see that!

Now… the big question… how did I get sober? That’s a very loaded question.  After almost a decade of heroin use, I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired (the old adage) and decided to seek treatment through methadone maintenance (Medication Assisted Treatment). One of the things you’ll learn about me through this blog is that I’m a huge proponent of harm reduction and multiple pathways to recovery. There is not a one sized fits all route to recovery. It’s different for everyone and for me that route was MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment). It literally saved my life. I’m finally, after 6 years of sobriety thanks to MAT, ready to get off the program and start living without methadone. So I am tapering currently and will officially be off of my medication in May and I am so excited!

My work… I do something that not many people in this world can do. I tell my story of recovery and of my days in active addiction for a living. I am a Certified Peer Engagement Specialist for the homeless and mentally ill population in my area. This means that I use my lived experience as someone who has dealt with addiction, mental illness, and homeless in many points in my life as a way to help others in similar situations. I help connect them to services, housing, benefits, etc… Basically, I help the forgotten ones.

And finally, how I learned to become an artist? I didn’t! I’m 100% self-taught! I enjoy all kinds of art including collage, mixed media, watercolor, acrylic, encaustics, and so much more! Art is absolutely my drug now! In fact, I cannot go a day without sketching or creating some kind of art, even if only for 10 minutes, everyday. If I don’t, I have massive anxiety! Does anyone else feel like that? It has become the ultimate wellness tool for myself. And if I don’t take good care of myself, bad things tend to happen. I also have an Etsy store and as soon as I figure out how to link that to my blog, I will! LOL! I’m still so new to this stuff! Ok… It’s getting late and I’m hungry.

So goodnight… and just in case you haven’t heard it lately, you are loved, you are light, and you are BEAUTIFUL!