Anyone recovering from a substance abuse disorder must learn to cope with a barrage of emotional ups and downs throughout recovery and beyond. For those graduating from a residential treatment center, the unpredictability of living a sober life brings unexpected stressful situations that cause anxiety, doubt, and fear about their future. Fortunately, evidence-based techniques for dealing with anxiety in recovery work and can help those in recovery remain focused and confident in their ability to defeat addiction.
7 Stress-Busting Activities for Managing Anxiety While Recovering from Addiction
Enroll in an Educational Class. Learning a new language, taking art classes, or returning to college if you dropped out because of addiction is a great way to steer your focus away from unproductive thoughts that make you anxious. Don’t leave your mind unoccupied during recovery!
Volunteer. Charities, nursing homes, animal shelters, and addiction treatment programs are always looking for people who can volunteer their services. Helping those less fortunate increases your sense of self-worth and keeps you busy and centered.
Talk to Family Members and Friends You Trust. When anxiety overwhelms you, talk about your worries and concerns with someone you know who will listen carefully and provide rational feedback.
Get Plenty of Physical Activity. Plenty of research supports the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of exercise, such as swimming, walking, jogging, aerobic exercise, and bicycling. Physical activity is probably the best stress-buster a person in recovery can do to relieve anxiety, improve their general health, and avoid those “empty” times when you focus on self-defeating thoughts.
Don’t Smoke or Overindulge in Caffeine Products. While having a cup of coffee in the morning is a necessary ritual for many people, try to limit your consumption of caffeinated beverages. Caffeine and nicotine increase anxiety by overstimulating the nervous system and increasing blood pressure and heart rate.
Indulge in Ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is “communing with nature” by hiking, camping, or finding a quiet spot under a tree in the woods. An evidence-based holistic therapy commonly included in residential treatment programs, ecotherapy has been proven to alleviate anxiety and depression and help prevent cravings or relapse.
Explore Your Spiritual Side. People in recovery often state that they feel directionless when they finally live a sober life. For some, it is the first time they have experienced a desire to find meaning and purpose. Discovering a path toward inner peace may involve learning more about a spiritual belief that interests them. Spirituality may help recovering addicts gain a deeper understanding of their perspective regarding the “big picture” and how this relates to coping with stress more productively.
Make Lasting Friendships with Sober People. Recovering addicts cannot associate with people who are heavy drinkers or drug abusers. Active substance abusers resent sober people because sober people remind them of how they are wasting their life. People who return to old relationships based solely on abusing drugs or alcohol after leaving a treatment program will relapse under the stress of being exposed to drugs.
If you are recovering from a substance abuse disorder and have difficulty dealing with the stress and anxiety common to maintaining sobriety, please visit our services page or call Hickory Treatment Centers today for immediate help.