Benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND (benzodiazepine-induced neurological dysfunction) is a challenging process that affects the body, mind, and spirit. As you embark on this journey, prioritizing self-care is crucial for a successful and sustainable recovery. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of self-care and offer suggestions for putting it into practice. We appreciate your thoughts and hope you will leave a comment, sharing what works best for you.

The Four Cornerstones of Well-Being

Living the four cornerstones of well-being, eat right (WFPD), move enough, stress less, and love well, are ways in which to practice excellent self-care.

  1. Eat Right

A Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) diet emphasizes consuming a variety of nutrient-dense plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds while eliminating processed foods and animal products. Adopting a WFPB diet can significantly improve your physical health by providing essential nutrients, promoting a healthy weight, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, and nourishing the gut microbiome. Eating right not only nourishes your body but also supports your mental well-being by stabilizing your mood and improving cognitive function.

  1. Move Enough

Engaging in regular physical activity is a crucial aspect of self-care. Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, increases energy levels, strengthens the immune system, and improves cardiovascular health. Additionally, physical activity is known to boost mood, reduce stress, and enhance mental well-being.  During withdrawal, it can be challenging to determine how much exercise is not too little or too much. Your tolerance for movement may change day to day. It is best to listen to your body and not push too much.

  1. Stress Less

Stress is detrimental to your physical and mental health. During benzo withdrawal/BIND, stress is difficult to escape, but you can do your best to minimize it. Incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation, can help. So too, can distraction and learning something new. Understanding that “state drives story” can reduce stress. When your nervous system is in the parasympathetic ventral vagal state, called the connect state (it is our default state), your thoughts and feelings will be positive. When it is in the protect state, sympathetic fight or flight, and parasympathetic dorsal vagal freeze, your thoughts, and feelings will be negative. In benzo withdrawal/BIND we are most often in the protect state due to downregulated GABA receptors. It is best to simply observe the negativity and not believe it.

4. Love well

This cornerstone is about being love in the world. Kind, caring, compassionate, forgiving, generous, grateful, service to others, patient, accepting, curious, awe, wonder, etc. These things can help grow the pro-social regions of the brain, making us happier and healthier. Practicing these ways of being grow healthier and stronger relationships, which also keeps us happier and healthier.

Many of the ways in which we practice self-care fall into the love well cornerstone.

Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is the practice of extending kindness, understanding, and empathy towards oneself, particularly during times of adversity, like benzo withdrawal/BIND. It involves recognizing that we all experience difficulties and that it’s natural to feel a range of emotions in response to these challenges. By cultivating self-compassion, we can cultivate a healthier relationship with ourselves, learn to accept our imperfections and build resilience in the face of challenging times. Embracing self-compassion encourages personal growth, fosters emotional well-being, and helps us live with greater ease and understanding.

Several factors might get in the way of self-compassion, making it difficult for you to practice kindness and understanding toward yourself. Some of these factors include:

  1. Self-criticism: A strong inner critic or a habit of engaging in negative self-talk can hinder self-compassion. In benzo withdrawal/BIND, it is common to negatively judge ourselves. Observe such negative thoughts and not believe them. Let them pass.
  2. Perfectionism: People who strive for perfection may have unrealistic expectations of themselves, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-blame when they fall short of these expectations. This mindset can obstruct the development of self-compassion.
  3. Cultural or societal norms: Some cultures or societies may emphasize self-reliance, achievement, or stoicism, discouraging individuals from acknowledging or expressing their vulnerabilities and emotional needs. This can create barriers to practicing self-compassion.
  4. Upbringing and family influences: A person’s childhood experiences and family environment can shape their ability to practice self-compassion. If individuals grew up in an environment where they were frequently criticized or not shown compassion, they may internalize those messages and struggle to extend compassion to themselves.
  5. Low self-esteem or self-worth: Individuals with low self-esteem or self-worth may struggle to believe they deserve compassion and kindness, making it difficult for them to practice self-compassion.

It may be difficult to work on these barriers to self-compassion while you are in benzo withdrawal/BIND, but being aware of them is helpful. Self-awareness, challenging negative thought patterns, and developing healthy coping strategies to foster self-compassion is a start to embracing yourself, warts and all.

Acceptance and Patience:

Acceptance and patience are integral components of self-care as they allow you to embrace your thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judgment or resistance. Acceptance involves acknowledging one’s imperfections, vulnerabilities, and emotions, fostering a deeper understanding of the self. Patience, on the other hand, enables you to give yourself the time and space necessary for personal growth and healing. By practicing both acceptance and patience, you can create a nurturing environment for self-compassion to flourish, ultimately promoting emotional well-being, resilience, and a more balanced perspective on life’s challenges.

Relationships

Strong social connections and supportive relationships are essential for our emotional well-being and overall health. Loving well involves cultivating empathy, compassion, and understanding for ourselves and others, as well as nurturing meaningful relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. Prioritize spending time with loved ones, engaging in open and honest communication, and actively listening to their thoughts and feelings. By fostering healthy relationships, we can create a supportive network that contributes to our happiness, sense of belonging, and emotional well-being.

Support from Others:

Having a strong support system is essential during the withdrawal process. Reach out to friends, family members, or support groups who understand your journey and can provide encouragement and advice. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can help you feel less isolated and provide valuable insights.

Working with a Benzo-Wise Health Care Practitioner:

A benzo-wise health care practitioner can provide personalized guidance and support throughout the withdrawal process. They can help you understand the tapering and recovery process. Additionally, they can recommend non-pharmacological strategies for coping with symptoms.

Distraction and Learning

Focusing on activities that distract you from withdrawal symptoms can be helpful in managing anxiety and stress. Engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or practicing relaxation techniques can provide temporary relief and improve your overall well-being. Educating yourself about benzodiazepine withdrawal and BIND can also empower you to make informed decisions about your recovery and help you feel more in control of the process.

Additional Tips and Practices for Self-Care during Benzodiazepine Withdrawal/BIND Recovery:

  1. Establish a consistent sleep schedule: Prioritize sleep by creating a bedtime routine and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. This can help improve sleep quality and the insomnia associated with withdrawal.
  2. Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is essential for overall health and can help mitigate withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.
  3. Practice relaxation techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery into your daily routine to help manage stress and anxiety.
  4. Set realistic goals: Break down your recovery process into manageable, achievable goals. Celebrate small victories and remind yourself that progress is being made, even if it’s slow.
  5. Stay organized: Create a withdrawal journal to track your symptoms, medications, and self-care practices. This can help you identify patterns and make adjustments to your recovery plan as needed.
  6. Limit exposure to triggers: Identify and avoid situations, environments, or substances that may trigger withdrawal symptoms or hinder your recovery.
  7. Practice gratitude: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude by focusing on the positive aspects of your life and acknowledging the progress you’ve made in your recovery journey.
  8. Prioritize self-care: Schedule time for self-care activities, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, getting a massage, or engaging in creative hobbies to recharge your mind and body.

Conclusion

Self-care is an essential component of benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND recovery. It may take time and energy to make it a priority, but it is time and energy well spent. Benzo withdrawal/BIND is a challenging time; however, it is also a time for learning to love ourselves and to treat ourselves with kindness and compassion.

Add Your Voice 

How do you practice self-care? What makes you feel the best? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Thank you for sharing with us.