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

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.

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Simple ways to remember to love yourself can make a big difference.

I woke up this morning feeling exhausted. Tomorrow, I’m moving for the fifth time in two months. I knew relocating continents would take its toll, but I 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 as planned, and the right thing to do is to 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.

Self-care can be a struggle.

This morning, I reached out to a close friend. I told them how tired I am, that I feel wiped out. They suggested that I take my own advice and implement a little self-care. How ironic, given that I was already scheduled to write this post today! Yet, I don’t feel like caring for myself. I feel meh. Like I just 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 the form that self-care takes 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.

Simple self-care strategies:

Today, being kind to myself 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, or 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. Do some people-watching.

  3. Do something to stimulate your senses. Get a massage, have an Epsom salt bath, have a pedicure, or get 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. 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. This is 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.

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

 Workit Health Olivia Pennelle Chocolate Brittle Recipe Image


  • 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 before using)


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 something closer to milk chocolate 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.

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Olivia Pennelle (Liv) has a masters in clinical social work from Portland State University. She is a mental health therapist, writer, and human activist. Her writing has appeared in STAT News, Insider, Filter Magazine, Ravishly, The Temper, and Shondaland. She is the founder of Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, Life After 12-Step Recovery, and Tera Collaborations. She lives near Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Instagram @Livwritesrecovery and @teracollaborations

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