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How to Look Good When You are Sick

No one wants to worry about looking good when they are ill or feeling under the weather. But, there are some pretty compelling reasons for doing at least minimal self-care, even when you are not feeling 100%, especially if you’re newly sober or clean from addiction. 

Some say that our appearance is an important aspect of our overall health. Looking good and the subsequently increased confidence it brings can improve our ability to succeed. The psychological impact of looking your best, especially in early recovery is worth exploring.

The adage that “You only look as good as you feel” has some merit, as does the reverse: “You only feel as good as you look.” I can think of no other time more important to focus on appearance than in early recovery when we are getting help for alcohol addiction.

Why You Should Look Good in Recovery

You know the drill. We get up, brush our teeth and hair, pull on sweats, and shuffle off to a 12 Step recovery meeting or two (or another program for alcoholics) and the next day we do it all again. We also connect with our sponsors or have sessions with our alcohol therapist or addiction specialist. 

The primary concern for all is our continued sobriety, whether found within inpatient drug treatment centers or outpatient programs. Why worry then about how we look? Isn’t it enough that we are changing ourselves inside? Do we have to care about how we look on the outside as well?

Psychology experts say that putting forth a good presentation is worth its weight in gold, but not for impressing other people! The greatest positive impact of looking our best even when we feel sick, happens to ourselves, Looking our best increases our confidence.

How to Look and Feel Good 

The point of looking good is that you are doing what is necessary to take care of your daily obligations, which all by itself is a definite change for the better. It’s also a sign that you are taking responsibility for your appearance and by extension your life. You are no longer shifting responsibility, as so many with substance use disorders do. 

Basics first: 

  • Shower daily. Not only will you feel cleansed, but there is a theory that taking a shower produces negative ions which can increase a feeling of alertness and well being.  
  • Wear makeup. Your body can pay a high price for your substance use disorder. You can look pale and drawn and feel exhausted and rundown. So: 
    • Wash your face, even if you only use a warm washcloth. 
    • Apply a light layer of SPF moisturizer. 
    • Use a cream blush or a dab of lipstick right on the apple of the cheek and blend it in with your fingertips for a healthy glow. Cheek color can be your friend but don’t overdo it.
    • Use a touch of mascara and a bit of lipstick or gloss. 
  • Get dressed. There’s a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous: “Suit up and show up.” While it’s tempting to go around the house or inpatient rehabilitation alcohol program in baggy shapeless clothing, take time to pull on jeans and a t-shirt. 

You are stepping into a new life. Be proud of your accomplishment. 

Feel Good Vs. Look Good

Of course, if you are home in bed and suffering from illness, you need to take time to feel better. Looking your best may be the last thing on your mind. It could even be detrimental to your care (physicians don’t always believe you are as ill as you are if you arrive in full makeup). 

As soon as you are able, though, put the basic plan into action. You will instantly feel better. The image you see in the mirror will reflect your best self and improve your attitude. 

Others may respond to you more readily and you will have a chance to model appropriate self-care behaviors to newcomers in the alcohol treatment center or your other group. 

No doubt your confidence in your newfound sober lifestyle will shine through.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 


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