When I first found recovery, my self-neglect was extreme. Caring for other people left me worn-out, stressed-out, and beyond exhausted. I’ve healed a lot since then, but my self-care often lags behind the rest of my recovery. This year, I’m stepping up my game.

What Hard-Living Looks Like For A Codependent

Time hasn’t been my friend. I’m in my 40s, but when I wake up, I feel and look 50. I was an anxious stress eater with a lot of addiction in my family of origin. I’m also a working Mom of a teenager! Plus, I struggled with infertility for almost a decade, and I had NO boundaries. Years of sleepless nights worrying about other people’s problems and then comforting myself with Chips Ahoy have finally caught up with me.

Self-care fertilizes every other aspect of my recovery, but putting the focus back on me has been slow. Lavish self-care in my early recovery days entailed 5 minutes of alone time to put body lotion on my arms and legs. My clothes were ratty. I hated leaving my family for even an hour to go to meetings. (Think Sylvester clinging on to Porky Pig.) It took me four weeks to make tea the way I liked it, for crying out loud!!

My physical health also suffered immensely. I’ve had Shingles, an adrenal tumor, a hysterectomy, and now psoriasis. All of these physical ailments can be triggered by stress. So naturally, the experts recommend to reduce stress. Sure. I’ll get right on that. To date, recovery is the only effective program I’ve found to manage my stress. To undo some of my hard-living, I’m taking these two steps.

Step One: Damage Control With Quick Fixes

St. Jerome says, “Eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.” While he may have been talking about facial expressions, dark shadows and puffy eyes regularly betray me. Every day I fight back with these quick makeup tricks.

Dark Circles

For bags under the eyes, concealers work best, but I don’t want to be bothered with this extra step. I do however, love using one of those eye masks you put in the freezer. On really tough days, I strap that on while I’m drying my hair. I also have an amazing citrus under the eye cream (by Origins) that soothes tired eyes.


Twenty year-old trend-setters have changed ALL the rules on eyebrows. Apparently now we want bold bright colors on wide, full brows. There are gels, glitter, and who knows what else.

I’m too tired to play by all of these new eyebrow rules, but I do give mine some simple love with a quick dusting of eyeshadow. A medium brown best matches my hair color.


As you get older, all of the natural oils in your body begin to collect in your eyelids. Taking the time to put on eyeshadow is futile unless you first put on an eyeshadow primer. Mine (from Ulta Beauty) has a little sparkle and a pretty pale peach shade, so most days, I just use that as eyeshadow. Because I’m tired!!


A few weeks ago, I bought a new shade of purple eyeliner.  Every time I put on this eyeliner and mascara, my coworkers ask me how much weight I’ve lost. Seriously.

Step Two: Healing My Immune System

I am not a scientist or health practitioner. I’m a busy Mom who’s reluctant to spend time and money on myself. I also HATE going to the doctor or seeking professional advice. I am however, willing to research and do what I can at home to take better care of myself. My answer is to increase Vitamin A & D.

Vitamins A and D are essential for helping stressed out Moms look and feel better, but both are fat soluble. This means taking too many of these vitamins could harm you. Vitamin A includes retinol, much like the very expensive anti-aging creams. Not only does Vitamin A help rejuvenate your skin, according to Dr. Josh Axe,

It plays a critical role in maintaining vision, neurological function, healthy skin and more. Like all antioxidants, it’s also involved in reducing inflammation through fighting free radical damage.

Dr. Axe further explains,

Vitamin D impacts not only our skeletal structure, but also our blood pressure, immunity, mood, brain function and ability to protect ourselves from cancer.

Did you catch one of the most important elements here? Vitamin D helps regulate our moods. Our bodies can make enough Vitamin D on our own by converting the sunshine that lands on our skin. The best way to increase your Vitamin D is to spend 10-20 minutes per day outside in the sun – WITHOUT sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks the helpful UV-B rays.

Simple At Home Treatments

First, I am eating two medium sized raw carrots every day for 30 days. According to Dr. Axe, just one medium sized carrot has approximately 204% of my recommended daily allowance. Since I’m an over-achiever, I’m doubling up. Carrots are relatively cheap, and I buy the organic ones so I can eat them without peeling. Because who has time to peel carrots? Yuck.

Second, I spend 10-20 minutes sitting outside in the sun. I am lucky enough to live in sunny Florida. For those who live in the north, where it is cold and windy, you may have to seek alternative therapies. When I lived in Illinois, I bought myself a sun-lamp and took over-the-counter Vitamin D3 supplements in the winter.

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Pam Carver

Pam is the author of two books: Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and Find Your True Colors In 12 Steps. She's also a contributing editor for Reach Out Recovery. She's a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.

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