30 Jan Managing Stress and Anxiety in Recovery
So many of us have been there – the sweaty palms, the sleepless nights, the anxiety and, for some of us, panic attacks. In active addiction, there always seemed to be a Band-Aid for these problems. These Band-Aids came in the form, perhaps, of a warm shot of whiskey or a narcotic. Or, for some, a big bowl of ice cream and other trigger foods, or compulsive sexual behavior, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, however, “Band-Aids” is precisely what these “solutions” were. But they never addressed the root of our problems and, ultimately, only made them worse. As most of us in recovery now know, or we’re at least beginning to recognize, is that there’s no such thing as engaging in an addictive behavior in moderation. Once we start, it becomes a vicious cycle and at the end of a bender, we’re left feeling hungover, miserable, and hopeless. The only way to get out of the rut is to start all over again, thus perpetuating the cycle.
Recovery means managing our emotions without drinking, drugging, or other addictive behaviors. In early recovery, this can feel a little daunting and like a lot of work as well, but it gets easier and more manageable with time. It also feels a heck of a lot better than slipping back into addictive behaviors.
Here’s a list of some effective ways to manage triggering stressful situations when things like work overwhelm, marriage or financial woes and other stressors get the better of us:
- Hit a Recovery Meeting. If you’re a member of a twelve-step group or other recovery support group, get yourself to a meeting. Depending on what fellowship you belong to, meetings are usually free and they happen to be up there with some of the very best ways to manage difficult emotions. In a meeting, you can connect with others who’ve likely experienced similar emotions and many times, you’ll even run into someone who’s going through the same thing. Meetings are a safe place to let off steam, share about what’s going on in a non-judgmental environment, access some recovery tools and hopefully get some relief.
- Call another Fellow in Recovery. Just like going to a meeting, by connecting with another addict in recovery, you’re able to share about what you’re going through with someone who understands how addiction operates, and also how you feel. You’ll give them the chance to share their own experience, strength and hope with you and perhaps, in turn, you’ll be able to share yours with them. It’s surprising how often we’ll pick up the phone and call a sober fellow, only to find that they’re going through something challenging as well. This gives us an opportunity to be of service to someone else which, often times, helps us to forget about our own stressful situation momentarily while providing relief for someone else.
- Meditate. We’ve talked about meditation many times here in this forum, and that’s because it works. If you don’t already have a meditation practice, it’s definitely something worth incorporating into your recovery program. There are so many resources out there in the form of apps, classes that you can take at local yoga studios and online tips, among other things. Once you learn how to quiet the mind, or even just to sit still and let the thoughts pass as they come without judgement, you’ll start to notice that life just magically seems to become more manageable. And if you think you don’t have time for meditation, do keep in mind that our brains are much more efficient when properly meditated. 🙂 So, you’ll likely get a lot more done after a good meditation. This is assuming that task overwhelm is what’s causing you anxiety in the first place. And if it’s other stuff that you’re struggling with, meditating will just make you a better communicator, a nicer person, and a happier human. It’s kind of, like, science.
- Exercise. We’ve sung exercise’s praises many times on here as well, and that’s because it’s one of life’s greatest cures when we’re dealing with difficult emotions. It’s the dopamine hit and all those other happy chemicals that we always talk about that really makes exercise such a fantastic emotional cure all. Physical activity is something that your body craves even if it’s not your first choice, and when you engage in it, your brain releases chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These are all super fun chemicals and are really helpful when it comes to squelching feelings of stress and anxiety. If you’re able bodied, even if your range of motion is limited, there’s almost always some form of exercise out there for you, even if it just means taking the dog for a long walk. Just get that blood pumping and those happy chemicals bumping and you’ll be on the road to relaxation in no time.
So, there you have it – some of our favorite ways to de-stress without slipping back into addictive behaviors. If you’re in early recovery, we know this isn’t always easy. Try easing into a simple routine, building it over time, and then sticking with it. You’re likely to discover that eventually, you just may crave these-anxiety busting activities as much as you craved drugs and alcohol. Don’t believe us? Try a couple of these out for a while and just see if you can prove us wrong – we double-dare ya.
Kembali Recovery Center is Here for You
If you or a loved one is struggling with drugs, alcohol, food addiction, or any other compulsive behaviors, Kembali Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us today to speak with a counselor and learn all about the various programs that we offer. You never have to do this alone.