Almost everyone who has ever dealt with any form of addiction or substance dependence will familiar with the overwhelming feeling of anxiety. It’s one of those staples to the condition, and one that every addiction treatment program can relate to. Addiction comes with a whole line of confusing emotions and conflicting feelings but the tidal wave of anxiety hits you like a ton of bricks, stimulating the fight or flight response, and often freezing you in place. Anxiety is a tremendous threat to your sobriety because when you feel walled in by anxious paranoia and worry, the only escape sometimes seems to be a dip back in the pool of drugs, alcohol, or addictive behaviors.
Learning to deal with and overcome anxiety is key to a lasting sobriety and there are a number of different tools you’ll use along the way. Self-medicating and numbing was how you may have dealt with it in the past but in recovery that’s no longer an option. Aside from non-addictive, safe prescription medication, which you may speak with your doctor about directly, you’re left with non-medicinal means to deal with anxiety.
Ask for Help
Chief among the escape strategies is the request for outside aid when things get too much to handle. Don’t keep your struggle private because that’s where it will eat away at you over time until you aren’t strong enough to resist the urge to self-medicate or act out compulsively. Sometimes the simple act of talking about your concerns and worries is enough to abate the effects of anxiety.
Fortunately the stigma associated with the word meditation is starting to recede as the culture begins to accept things like meditation and yoga. The truth is, however, that meditation is simply awareness of awareness. Take some time out of every day, just a few minutes, to calm yourself, breathe deeply, and bring your attention to your own attention. Be aware of your thoughts, feelings, breath. This simple act of centering your focus is all it takes to do what we call “meditate” and it has tremendous benefit to overcoming the anxiety of daily life.
Akin to meditation is the simple act of prayer. If your beliefs account for God or a Higher Power of some kind, settling the mind into a conversation with this higher intelligence allows you to share the burden with something/someone greater than yourself. Prayer strengthens faith and expands peace of mind.
Distract Your Mind
For the most part, anxious feelings are temporary and will pass after a few minutes. It’s like an uncomfortable wave of emotion that will pass if given time. Sometimes the best way to deal with a bout of anxiety is to distract yourself with a hobby or task that gets your mind focused. An idle, wandering mind is all too prone to anxious thought patterns but when focused on completing some task or enjoying some recreational activity, there’s no room for the anxiety to sneak in.
The key to a happy life and a content mind is an all-encompassing sense of gratitude. Each day take some time to think of all the things in your life that you consider a blessing. Be grateful for your breath, your heartbeat, the food in your belly, and the sun shining on your skin. Gratitude helps to alleviate the unhappy, restless energy of anxiety that tends to forget all the wonderful blessings that surround you in your daily life.