A Simple Guide to Self-Care (Bonus: Easy Chocolate Brittle Recipe!)

Simple Ways To Remember to Love Yourself

I woke up this morning feeling exhausted. Tomorrow, I move for the fifth time in two months. I knew relocating continents would take its toll, but hadn’t expected just how tiring it would be. I thought that once I landed here, in Portland, I would feel settled. Sometimes things just don’t work out how you see them, and the right thing to do is move, as much as I don’t want to. My point is that sometimes; we don’t feel like doing the things that help us the most -- like self-care.

This morning, I reached out to a close friend, telling them how tired I am, that I feel wiped out. They suggested to me that I take my own advice and implement a little self-care. How ironic, given I had scheduled to write this post today. Yet, I don’t feel like it. I feel meh. I want to wrap myself up in my comforter and stay there for a couple of days. I don’t much have the energy for taking care of myself.

Now, I am a big fan of self-care being a part of any recovery strategy, but it needs to be realistic, and it needs to be easy. It needs to lend itself to times like this. I cannot profess to be a perfect spiritual-warrior-type, who meditates for several hours a day and practices endless yoga on a beach. That just isn’t me, and it just isn’t my life. My life is about doing the best that I can, with what I have. It is about finding ways to be kind to myself and living well.

My life is about doing the best that I can, with what I have. It is about finding ways to be kind to myself and living well.

Today, that looks like basic self-care. I’m going to share with you the self-care that I implement when I really want to roll over in bed and wake up tomorrow:

  1. Reach out and speak to someone. Call a sponsor, a close friend, a family member; tell them how you feel. You don’t have to seek advice, just the act of reaching out is enough.

  2. Get some air. Take a five-minute walk around the block and breathe in the fresh air. If you can get to a park, even better, the green space will lighten your mood. Take a flask of coffee, or tea, wrap up warm and sit down for five minutes. People watch.

  3. Do something to stimulate your senses. Get a massage, have an Epsom salt bath, have a pedicure, or a haircut. These simple acts re-enforce that you care for yourself.

  4. Reset. Change into comfortable clothes/PJs, grab blankets, cushions and props and make a den. Whether it is on the sofa, or on the floor. Rest.

  5. Try some gentle stretching or foam rolling. I particularly like restorative yoga, by candlelight—although, I won’t lie, it takes a big push to get me there; but when I do, I feel like I am floating on air.

It seems only apt that I approach this subject on Valentine’s Day. A time when we think of spending quality time with a loved one. Yet, if we don’t care about ourselves, how can we have anything to offer? We must first love ourselves before we can effectively and meaningfully love another.

We must first love ourselves before we can effectively and meaningfully love another.

That said, here is a sweet recipe for the special day, for you to enjoy together:


Chocolate brittle

- 4 tablespoons raw cacao
- 4 tbsp melted coconut oil, or cocoa butter (if you can find it)
- ½ tbsp maple syrup (optional - I don’t use this, but it can be bitter without)
- Chopped or flaked/slivered nuts (almonds are good)
- 2 tbsp cherries (frozen work fine, but defrost)

1. Place the cacao in a bowl and pour over the coconut oil gently. Whisk until smooth;
2. Add the maple syrup and whisk until combined. You could add coconut milk here if you wanted a more milk than dark chocolate;
3. Mix in the nuts and cherries and then pour into a small container, or cupcake tray and refrigerate for one hour to set.


Located in Portland, OR, Olivia Pennelle (Liv) is an experienced writer, journalist, and coach. She is the founder of the popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, a site dedicated to helping people flourish in their recovery. Liv is passionate about challenging limiting mentalities and empowering others to direct their own lives, health, and recovery. You can find her articles across the web on podcasts and addiction recovery websites, including The Fix, Recovery.org, Ravishly, and The Recovery Village. Liv was recently featured in VICE.