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Learning to Love, Nurture and Care for Yourself

Self-care is one of the hardest tasks for a survivor. Many feel they do not deserve to be taken care of because they are "awful," "bad," or "rotten." However, self-care is a skill you must learn early if your recovery process is to progress.

The reality is, if you did not get healthy emotional or physical care as a child, no one is going to be able to meet your true inner needs now except YOU. No one--not a lover, spouse, friend, neighbor or even a therapist--is going to meet your needs the way you need them to be met. Others can help you in the process, but all will fall short of your needs and expectations. You must learn this painful truth, and begin to love, nurture, and care for yourself.

At first this may seem extremely difficult. I encourage clients to create a list of things they will do to take care of themselves during the time they are in therapy with me. The goal is to do one or two caring things for yourself every day. In the beginning this may seem foreign, but it soon becomes rote, and you begin to care for yourself--because you are someone special and because you deserve it. The following is a list of self-care suggestions compiled from suggestions from my clients.


  1. Take a long, hot bubble bath, listen to classical music, or light candles.

  2. Read a special book--not one or school, work, parenting, or therapy--one just for you.

  3. Watch old movies, eat popcorn, and drink warm tea.

  4. Play with your animals; they give unconditional love.

  5. Reduce your expectations of yourself.

  6. Invest in relationships when you feel most like withdrawing.

  7. Focus on the present. You cannot cope with the burden of the past and the fear of the future all the time.

  8. Listen to special music selected just for your self-care time.

  9. Spend an entire day doing just what you want.

  10. Allow yourself to cry when you need to.

  11. Accept that you can't control everything.

  12. Take a nap.

  13. Go to the ocean and walk on the beach.

  14. Get a massage. When that is too hard, get a manicure or a pedicure.

  15. Go window shopping.

  16. Allow yourself to verbalize your anger in a way that will not be destructive to yourself or others.

  17. Set the table with your best dishes, linen, and silver when you are having dinner by yourself.

  18. Write special letters to long-lost friends. Use a special pen and stationery for this.

  19. Lie on the couch curled up with a warm blankey, a favorite stuffed animal, and soft music.

  20. Eat and sleep according to a regular schedule.

  21. Try not to resist the recovery process because that will make you feel more alone and out of control.

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    Copyright Wendy Ann Wood, MA, from "Triumph over Darkness". The above information is presented for educational purposes only, and it is not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Reprinted with permission from Beyond Words Publishing.

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