Tips for Managing Anxiety in Sobriety

Tips for Managing Anxiety in Sobriety

Anxiety and alcohol or drug addiction are connected. It’s also common to feel anxiety in sobriety as many people use alcohol or drugs to alleviate social anxiety. Once you’ve reached sobriety, you might still have times of anxiety that you don’t know how to cure. Alcohol and drugs rewire your brain in a way that might increase anxiety if you already suffer from it.

According to the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Services Administration, almost eight million Americans are struggling with co-occurring disorders like addiction and anxiety. Even if you have entered sobriety and recovery, it doesn’t mean that anxiety automatically goes away. This is especially true if you previously used drugs and alcohol to cope.

Let’s take a look at some tips for managing anxiety in sobriety.

How Is Anxiety Defined?

First, it’s helpful to know exactly how anxiety is defined as a disorder. Everyone experiences some level of anxiety from time to time. However, when the anxious feelings persist for days and weeks and affect your ability to go about your daily life, then it’s likely a disorder. Behavioral Health disorders that present with high anxiety include the following:

• Panic disorder
• Agoraphobia
Generalized anxiety disorder
• Social anxiety disorder
• Separation anxiety
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Irritable bowel syndrome

The main difference between general feelings of nervousness or feeling anxious before something big and an actual anxiety disorder is that people with the latter are often debilitated by it. This can make sobriety in recovery harder for some people as well. One way to know if your anxious feelings are normal or indicative of a disorder is to ask yourself if your anxious reaction is proportional to the stressor.

Meditation For Anxiety in Sobriety

Something you might take into addiction recovery is the skill of meditation. You may have also learned deep breathing, which has been proven to lower blood pressure, slow your heart rate and alleviate tension from stress. If you’re struggling with anxiety in sobriety, you can start with deep breathing whenever you feel stress. Then, take the next step and work on meditation and mindfulness. Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment. Concentrate on the moment where you exist right now. You don’t have anywhere to be or anything to do except exist. You can find a special spot to practice mindful breathing and meditation, or you can simply take the time out to do it whenever you feel stressed in addiction recovery.

Managing Anxiety in Sobriety By Serving Others

If you experienced a 12 step program during your addiction treatment, you probably heard a lot about serving others. It might seem hard at first when you’re focused on recovery and staying sober and are unable to see beyond that. However, one of the best things you can do when experiencing anxiety during recovery is to reach out to others. Why? One of the reasons is that it takes you out of your own bubble, even if it’s only for a short time. It can move you into a different spot during sobriety. Some examples include the following:

• Calling a friend and asking about their day
• Taking someone out for coffee
• Invite someone to your house for lunch

When you’re lost in your own thoughts, even in sobriety, you might start having a warped perspective on life. Letting your thoughts run wild can cause your anxiety to ramp up. However, when you talk to another sober person and listen to them, you might discover a different perspective that can affect your recovery and increase your commitment to sobriety. Better yet, not only can this help your own recovery, but you might help someone else’s as well.

Talk To Your Therapist About Anxiety in Sobriety

If anxiety during recovery and sobriety is a serious problem for you, it’s important to see a therapist as soon as possible. It’s great to have a sober support group when you’re recovering from addiction. However, sometimes professional help from a therapist is the best solution. A trained professional specializes in understanding the connection between anxiety and addiction. They can help you find ways to combat your anxiety and develop healthy coping strategies in sobriety.

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy

This is a form of therapy that can work well for anxiety. It reprograms your uncomfortable and stressful responses to unpleasant situations or events. Another way to describe it is a form of healing for your brain around painful memories. This allows you to form a more positive response in the future. This form of therapy can be helpful during addiction treatment as well as during sobriety if you find that you still suffer from anxiety.

Yoga For Sobriety

Another very helpful therapy for anxiety is yoga. Yoga is a relaxing form of exercise that often involves meditation and mindfulness as well. Yoga can help you stay sober by providing a relaxing way to cope with stress and replacing alcohol or drugs when you feel triggered. In order to properly execute yoga forms, controlled breathing is a necessary skill. The breathing techniques alone can help calm your anxiety. The other great thing about yoga is that you can do it almost anywhere. If you have an anxiety attack in your office or your own house, you can take a few minutes to practice yoga breathing and do some forms.

Grounding Exercises

You might also try a grounding technique called 5-4-3-2-1. This is a five-step technique that can help alleviate anxiety and takes you out of your own head. Follow the five steps below to practice:

Step 1

Look at and acknowledge five things in your immediate area. For example, a pen, a plant, a glass of water, your phone, your computer, etc.

Step 2

Acknowledge four things you can touch near you, and proceed to name them and touch them.

Step 3

Acknowledge three sounds you can hear.

Step 4

Isolate two things you can smell.

Step 5

Isolate one thing you can taste.

Find Healthy Distractions

When you’re trying to stay sober, it’s important to find healthy distractions. Previously, you probably used alcohol and drugs to cope with many things. Finding healthy distractions doesn’t have to be difficult. Many things can work as long as they’re somewhat active and require your mind to focus on something other than any stressful triggers. Some examples of healthy distractions include the following:

• Exercise of any kind
• Listening to music or a podcast
• Writing
• Reading
• Cooking or baking
• Creating art such as painting or sculpting

Whether you are trying to stay sober after treatment, or need continuing treatment for a behavioral health condition, New Method Wellness is ready to help. We are a dual diagnosis treatment center specializing in addiction and behavioral health. To find out more about dual diagnosis treatment and available therapy programs, contact us today.

For more information about our addiction treatment methods, call 866.951.1824

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