13 Apr Emotional Wellness in Recovery
Recovery isn’t just about detoxing and trying to ignore your cravings. While it might seem like all you need to do to sustain sobriety is stop using, recovery is much more complicated than that. You have to treat more than the symptoms and causes of substance abuse. Focusing on emotional wellness throughout your recovery helps you find the balance that you need for a long-term recovery.
Don’t You Deserve to Be Happy in Recovery?
One of the problems that you might encounter when you’re going through recovery is the idea of happiness. Since when is happiness a problem?
Many people place such high expectations on the notion of happiness that they fail to work through their emotions. Of course, you do deserve to be happy. But you also deserve to be able to manage all of the other emotions that crop up because you’re human.
Even the healthiest people have a wide range of emotions before, during and after recovery. You can’t be positive all the time. But you can learn how to cope with all of your feelings so that you can develop emotional wellness, stay grounded and continue along the recovery path.
What Is Emotional Wellness?
Emotional wellness is defined in a number of ways. It involves having the inner strength to accept your feelings and allow yourself to move through them in a healthy way.
It makes sense that emotional wellness is vital for recovery. You might have started using drugs or alcohol to deal with intense, undesirable feelings. Substances numb your emotions and change your body’s natural responses to pleasure and stress.
At one time, you may have felt as though substance abuse helped you get through the tough parts of life. Eventually, addiction becomes one of the hardest aspects of your life. Once you go through detox or begin a recovery program, the emotions that you struggled to manage don’t magically disappear.
In fact, you might feel particularly vulnerable to the emotional roller coaster of life after you’ve stopped using. Focusing on emotional wellness during recovery can help you feel like yourself again.
Emotional wellness involves:
• Learning and growing from your experiences
• Allowing a full range of emotions
• Avoiding blocking or choking off negative emotions
• Not judging yourself for having certain feelings
It’s natural to feel sad when something devastating happens or excited when a new opportunity is on the horizon. But how many times has someone advised you to focus on the positive or look on the bright side?
In our society, we place a great deal of value on keeping our chins up and bouncing back from negative events. Many of us never learned how to create emotional wellness. Emotional neglect and inappropriate emotional experiences solidify the fact that it’s probably better to keep a smile on our face. It’s no wonder so many people struggle with addiction.
It would be strange if you didn’t experience a full range of emotions. But, like many people who struggle with addiction, you’ve probably learned to stifle many of your feelings in an effort to stay afloat.
Hiding your emotions is exhausting. Doing so can affect your physical and psychological health. Avoiding your emotions doesn’t make them go away. It lets them fester. They end up getting lodged in your subconscious, and they run your life behind the scenes anyway.
Cultivating emotional wellness allows you to move your emotions through you. It lets you process them so that they don’t linger and run your life.
Emotional wellness doesn’t mean that your life will always be sunshine and rainbows. You may feel pain. You might experience heartache. But you’ll also give yourself a chance to experience joy and pleasure.
You’ll learn that your feelings aren’t facts, emotions come and go and feelings don’t last forever. Learning to look at your feelings is the first step toward emotional wellness in recovery.
How to Cultivate Emotional Wellness in Recovery
If awareness is the first step for developing emotional wellness in recovery, what else can you do to maintain a healthy balance between your feelings, thoughts and behaviors? Observing your feelings can only take you so far.
Developing healthy coping mechanisms is another step toward emotional wellness. When your emotions feel big, how can you deal with them? You’ve learned that avoiding them is a slippery slope that keeps them lodged inside of you. Turning to substances is no longer an option.
There are many therapeutic techniques that can help you develop emotional wellness. Once you have awareness and let your feelings bubble up, you can take some of the following measures to deal with them and work toward emotional wellness in recovery:
• Using creative expression to work through your feelings
• Getting out into nature to ground yourself and find peace
• Connecting with loved ones or supportive people
• Cuddling or working with animals
• Using visualizations
• Exercising or doing yoga
• Attending counseling or therapy sessions
At New Method Wellness, we offer a variety of approaches for helping you develop emotional wellness in recovery. We incorporate non-judgmental observation, creativity, a body-mind connection and support into everything that we do.
When you address your emotional wellness as you move through recovery, you will learn to:
• Manage strong cravings so that they don’t lead to relapse
• Let go of guilt and shame so that you can face your wrongs and forgive yourself
• Develop mindfulness so that you can think clearly and observe your feelings without judgment
• Learn from your mistakes so that slip-ups don’t derail you
• Come up with a plan for how to act when negative feelings arise
Emotional Wellness: Accepting Your Feelings
There is a difference between accepting your feelings and acting on them. In the past, you may have reacted to any inkling of distress or discomfort. Many people with substance abuse disorder have a hard time responding to intense feelings. When you find emotional wellness, you can respond with healthy behaviors.
Emotional wellness allows you to find well-being in other areas of your life. Your relationships will improve. You will have more success in your career. You’ll ultimately live a more meaningful and fulfilling life because you’re no longer escaping who you are. Emotional wellness lets you embrace your identity and reach your full potential.
Emotional wellness is a practice. We can teach it, but it’s up to you to keep it going. We’ll support you as you establish your new, healthy route to recovery.
Don’t ignore your emotional wellness as you move through recovery. Treating the illness is just one aspect of recovery. Addressing the whole person, including your physical, mental and emotional wellness, is the most comprehensive way to achieve a successful recovery and avoid relapse.