Start with a total health exam from a physician and make sure you address any chronic health issues. Then, begin a regular exercise program to increase your overall health and feelings of well-being. Focus on your positive achievements and get adequate sleep, to increase your ability to overcome negative thinking. Make healthy food choices to increase your energy and positive feelings about yourself. Reduce your stress through using relaxation techniques and being rigorous in your daily life. Keeping to schedules and meeting your commitments will increase your overall feelings of self-worth and competence. Do something every day that makes you feel proud of you. Return to your “Guilt and Shame Stress Inventory Worksheet” at the end of the chapter and add any of the above techniques you want to use next to the specific guilt or shame stressor you have identified.
Guilt and shame can lead to negative thinking that supports a return to use of drugs and alcohol. A good resource for managing guilt and shame is “The Feeling Good Handbook,” by Dr. David Burns. It will take time and action to overcome feelings of guilt and shame and rebuild your self esteem. Each small step takes you closer to your life goals.