As we cross off the last few days of the 2022 calendar, let us think about how we can improve our self-care in 2023. Effective self-care helps reduce suffering as we navigate through benzo withdrawal/BIND and sets us on an excellent path for health and well-being long after our recovery  Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s smart—part of an overall healthcare plan. Self-care rests on the four cornerstones of well-being: eat right (whole-food, plant-based diet), move enough, stress less, and love well. Think of your self-care goals with these four cornerstones in mind.

Ask yourself, “What is my self-care goal(s) for 2023?” “What is my plan to stay on track?” “Do I need a person or people to help me? If so, who and what do I need them to do?”

Write down your goal(s) in clear and concise language on a piece of paper and read it daily. (Side note: did you know that the most successful CEOs read their company’s mission statement regularly? Your self-care plan can be a part of your life’s mission statement.)

Here are twelve ideas to spark your imagination to create sustainable ways you can put self-care as a main priority in 2023.

1. Create! Creativity boosts dopamine and opens new doors for solutions. Creativity can help you implement all four cornerstones in new and exciting ways.

2. Pause. Take a breath. Decide how to respond instead of simply reacting. Pausing helps us to reduce stress and allows us to be more kind and compassionate.

3. Practice tai chi or yoga to calm and rewire your nervous system for less stress.

4. Get out in nature— a park, the woods, a meadow, a garden, the beach, etc. Greenery, water, and wildlife send your nervous system toward the parasympathetic ventral vagal response of calm and safety, reducing stress levels.

5. Learn something new for a boost of feel-good dopamine, an instant way to turn down the volume of worry and woe.

6. Take a gentle walk or go for a swim. Walking helps metabolize stress hormones and encourages our nervous system to shift into the ventral vagal state that is so healthy and healing. Swimming increases neurogenesis, a wonderful thing! These gentle exercises are ways we can move more without revving up benzo/BIND symptoms.

7. Give yourself a foot, hand, or face massage or get a  professional full-body massage. It’s relaxing and melts away stress. (Avoid deep tissue work or moving the head too much.)

8. Practice box breathing. (Inhale for four counts, pause for four, exhale for four, pause for four.) This signals to your nervous system that all is well; no need for fight, flight, or freeze protection mode, signaling your body to calm down.

9. Watch funny videos. Laughing is a balm for a jangled nervous system.

10. Go plant-based. Reduce inflammation, boost your gut microbiome and immune system, and more!

11. Reduce/eliminate any stressors that you have control over. (Turn off the news and social media, avoid confrontational people, etc.)

12. Put the fourth cornerstone into daily practice: gratitude, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, service to others, curiosity, wonder, generosity, patience, etc., to build more connectivity to the part of your brain that reduces anxiety and depression and helps you make better decisions.

What are your thoughts about creating a self-care goal(s) and plan of action for sustainability for 2023? Me? I’m focusing on increasing how much I move. I am implementing a vigorous yoga practice as well as walking more. Feel free to share your self-care goal(s) and ideas with us.

Need help with self-care? Book a 1:1 coaching session or join my live group coaching/support group, Heal With Dr. Jenn. The group is open 24/7 for posting and connecting with others. I host live sessions Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at 9 AM pacific. (They are recorded if you can’t attend live.) We offer free yoga, stretching, arts and crafts, journaling for healing classes, and much more! We’d love to help you make 2023 the year you make bigger steps toward health and happiness. Click for more information. 

I wish you all the very best in 2023.
From my heart to yours,
Dr. Jenn