If you struggle with anxiety, you are not alone. In fact, it is one of the most common illnesses in America. Anxiety affects more than 40 million people in the United States alone. Even though anxiety is treatable in most, sadly, only 37 percent of those affected seek professional help. Many turn to alcohol and drugs to help with their anxious mind. While substances may temporarily relieve the crippling discomfort of anxiety, they can actually aggravate the condition in the long run. This is one of the main reasons why anxiety and addiction are often found together. When addiction is present with another mental illness it is called a co-occurring disorder. Many end up struggling with how to stay sober with anxiety.
According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, often seen as the bible of 12-step recovery, the addict’s problem centers in his/her mind. Yes, the body is most certainly affected and also plays a part. However, the mind is the center of the body that makes the decisions. If one were to never decide to take a drug or alcohol physical abuse, brought on by tolerance, could never occur. Additionally, once someone decides to get sober, after the detox process, the body is no longer phsyically addicted. It is the mind that once again leads the way. This is where anxiety can cause many to become addicted again.
Many fall back on prescription medicine to deal with anxiety in sobriety. Some choose not to go this route. For these, understanding how to stay sober with anxiety in a non-medical way is important. Here are 7 natural steps to help deal manage anxiety in recovery:
1. Know that the only way out is through
Our feelings and emotions are our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. For many in recovery, they have spent the better part of their addiction using substances so that they don’t feel those emotions or feelings. In recovery, it is important to learn to feel and experience these emotions as they are part of living. It is often said that anxiety has never killed anyone. What is meant by this is that anxiety is centered in the mind. Feelings and emotions do not, in and of themselves, cause harm. They can trick you into thinking you can’t handle them. The only way through anxiety in addiction recovery is through these feelings and emotions.
2. Keep a Journal
For many, keeping a journal, especially in early recovery, if vital to dealing with anxiety. Not only will you be grateful you have a record of your early years of sobriety, but journals also provide important feedback as you get to see things from an objective point of view when you write them down.
Meditation and deep breathing has been a natural treatment for anxiety for millennia. Many religous practices employ this technique to help one center themselves in the moment, feel their breathing and to better gain control of their thoughts.
Adding on to meditation, a great way to deal with anxiety is by using the breath to connect with your body. We often forget to breathe, or breathe too shallow, when we’re anxious. Yoga is perfect to recalibrate our bodies and give it the oxygen it needs.
Speaking to a therapist is a vital component to many in recovery.Being able to talk through fears, order thoughts, sift through negative emotions and feelings , and formulate a plan of action can be the difference between sobriety and addiction for many.
Moving is crucial to processing stress hormones that the body produces in response to anxiety. The benefits include a boost in feel good chemicals, and a prolonged state of relaxation — the perfect solution for anxiety!
7. Spend time with animals.
In one survey, as many as 84 percent of pet owners reported reduced anxiety through owning a pet. Even if you don’t own one, volunteer at a humane society or to watch a friend’s pet.
However, you choose to deal with your anxiety, know that you’re not alone in dealing with it. Continued practice of these simple self-care strategies will improve symptoms to make life more manageable. San Diego Sober Living is here to help you figure out how to stay sober with anxiety. Please free to contact us with any questions you may have regarding anxiety or addiction.