Healthy Ways To Manage Anxiety In Recovery

Healthy Ways To Manage Anxiety In Recovery

Anxiety is a normal part of life. When we’re not in control of a situation, we can feel anxious and unsure about the uncertainties. When you’re in recovery, your anxiety may be even more noticeable because recovery can sometimes feel like a roller coaster with an uncertain pattern. You may even want to deal with your anxiety with the very substances you’re working on sobriety from. There are healthy ways to manage anxiety in recovery, though. When you face anxiety with tools to do so, your recovery will be more solid as well.

What Is Anxiety And Why Do I Feel This Way?

Anxiety is a normal function of the human brain. Our brain’s way of releasing hormones will help us deal with uncertainties in our life. When you’re not sure of what’s about to happen, your brain releases stress hormones to help you get ready for something that may be dangerous or intense.

Fight or Flight? 

You may have heard the term ‘fight or flight.’ This is when your body is unsure about what’s about to happen and goes into alert mode. Your brain gets ready to either fight whatever comes your way or flee from it, and in doing so, floods your central nervous system with cortisol and adrenaline. This can lead you to feel pumped and like you can handle any threat that comes your way. Your senses feel sharpened, your reflexes are faster, and you stand ready to handle whatever comes next.

When you’re anxious, though, you constantly feel like you’re in that fight or flight mode. Those stress hormones and chemicals are released in a constant cycle where they prepare you to deal with something unknown and scary, but then relax when you realize the situation isn’t that scary after all. The consistent release of excessive amounts of stress hormones is considered anxiety and can keep you constantly nervous or agitated.

What to Do with Fight or Flight

Few of us like that feeling all the time. You likely look for ways to get rid of that constant overbearing, “What if?” and sometimes you may turn to substances to help you ‘calm down or ‘get a handle on the situation.’ You may think that alcohol or marijuana will calm you down, but they’re also possibly the cause of more intense anxiety once their effects are worn off. If you turn to stimulants, your brain may feel even more anxious because stimulants can trigger panic and uncertainty.

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The Anxiety And Addiction Connection

If you’re struggling with anxiety and turn to substances to self-medicate, you’re in a unique situation as you try to manage anxiety in recovery. About 20% of Americans with an alcohol or substance use disorder also have an anxiety or mood disorder. [1] The comorbidity of a substance use disorder and anxiety in recovery can make you concerned about how you’ll be able to be sober but not anxious. That in and of itself can lead to more anxiety and make it difficult to manage anxiety in recovery. There are healthy ways to do so, though, and they can make a tremendous difference in your sobriety.

Healthy Ways to Manage Anxiety In Recovery: You’re In Control

If you’re dealing with anxiety in recovery, the good news is that there are many healthy ways to deal with your anxiety.

Meditation

Some people use meditation in the truest sense of the word—guided meditations to capture your anxious thoughts and replace them with healing, positive ones. Some people use meditation to relax and find peace in prayer or reflection or deep breathing while listening to soothing music. According to the American Psychological Association, Mindful Meditation can reduce stress and anxiety on your brain and physical body. [2]

Grounding

When you’re in recovery, you may feel like you’re on that roller coaster, and you don’t know what’s coming next. This can cause you to feel anxious and uneasy, but grounding techniques can make a difference. Grounding can help you rely on your senses – what you can feel, smell, touch, and hear – and not on the ‘what-ifs’ that are plaguing you. When you’re feeling anxious, think of three things you can smell, feel, touch, and hear at that moment and focus on them.

Exercise

Studies show that if you exercise, you may find similar anxiety relief as you would if you took medication for your anxiety. [3] The endorphins released can trigger parts of your brain the stress hormones would typically override and boost your feelings of positive outcomes.

Writing

You may have tons of things running through your mind. Consider writing them out and then writing out ‘worst-case scenario’ plans for every what-if you can conjure. This helps give you a mental flowchart of what you’d do if something you’re anxious about actually happens. This can also be a way to prevent you from going back to substances to self-medicate because you have a plan in place.

Talking With Someone

When you’re trying to manage anxiety in recovery, you may feel overwhelmed. You’re trying to stay sober and not be anxious about it, and talking with someone can help you release feelings of anxiety. Sometimes just talking out the ‘what-ifs’ can help you understand the situation isn’t as scary as you initially thought. This may be especially helpful if you’re anxious about what your new life of sobriety may look like and how the changes may affect you.

Desert Cove Recovery: A Partner In Finding Healthy Ways to Manage Anxiety

At Desert Cove Recovery, we want to help you overcome addiction and live a life you were meant to live. We specialize in holistic treatments that give you tools to help you live your best life. It’s crucial to focus on the physical, mental, and spiritual issues behind your addiction and anxiety so that your recovery is free of fear of the unknown. We know you’re a unique individual with unique circumstances. That’s why we customize each treatment plan to meet your specific needs.

If you’re tired of worrying about managing your anxiety in recovery, you don’t have to do this alone. Contact us today, and let us walk this road with you so you can live the life you want to live.

 

Sources:

[1] https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/co-occurring-disorders/substance-abuse
[2] https://www.apa.org/topics/mindfulness/meditation
[3] https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety