People abuse drugs and alcohol for multiple different reasons. Psychological, physical, historical … so many more. But every substance has at least one thing in common: it helps you escape from the present. Because of this, when an addict finds sobriety they come face-to-face with thoughts and emotions they have avoided or masked for long periods of time. This is one reason why anxiety during addiction recovery is so prevalent. Here are 5 ways to help manage those feelings.
1. Talk It Out
Getting clean is not just about the drugs. It’s a new lease and look at life that transforms how a person interacts with the world. When you start feeling anxiety during addiction recovery, your support system is your lifeline. One of the most important things you can do to manage your stress is simply using them. As well, some of these people in your support system are professionals—they have seen it all. So their guidance and support is invaluable as it represents not just one journey, but it comes from experience in dealing with hundreds of others who have experienced anxiety in addiction recovery.
Not only is it important for a recovering addict to repair their physical bodies from the damage that has been caused by drug or alcohol abuse, exercise has numerous psychological benefits that will alleviate stress and anxiety. Through movement and strenuous activity, our minds are focused on the moment. They are free from the thoughts that bind them to uncertainties and fears. Exercise also will help you sleep better, make you feel better, make you look better, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Yoga is a great way to get started as it combines physical activity with breathing and meditation.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Anxiety is resistance to, or un-acceptance of, the present moment. Mindfulness is a way to meditate and relieve stress by being in the present moment. There may be all kinds of things we are going through in the present moment that we’re resisting, and we may be justified in that resistance. But it’s our resistance that causes the anxiety.
4. Maintain Good Eating
The connection between proper diet and minimizing anxiety is largely due to the fact that optimal nutrition will keep blood sugar levels stable. When people experience a drastic drop in blood sugar, the body responds with what is called a stress response. As a result, the body secretes stress hormones that will increase the production of blood sugar, which can create anxiety-like symptoms.
To minimize this risk, people in recovery need to adopt a diet that includes more protein and healthy fats. People should also eat several smaller portions daily and keep healthy snacks around to keep blood sugar levels steady. It is also recommended that people avoid food and beverages that are loaded with sugar or refined carbohydrates.
When our body believes it is in a threatening situation, it changes its breathing pattern. Breathing becomes shallow and occurs at the top of our lungs. By focusing on your breathing, you can also bring your body into a calming response.
Here’s a practice to try to align your breathing in a way that relieves stress. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. Hold your breath to the count of “three.” Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach. Repeat this at least 10 times.
Here are some more comprehensive resources on some of the techniques mentioned above:
Anxiety is very common for people in recovery. If you are experiencing anxiety during addiction recovery, you are quite normal. However, it is important to keep it under control. If you need help managing your anxiety and recovery, you should call us today. The experienced addiction professionals at First Steps Recovery use a wide variety of proven treatment services and techniques that will empower you to face your addiction head on and find lasting recovery. Call us today: 844-489-0836.