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Sobriety and Anxiety: Overcoming the Challenges

sobriety and anxiety

Calm Anxious Feelings and Enter Sobriety with Confidence

The change to one’s life that sobriety brings can cause plenty of anxiety in itself. The thought of “giving up” an addiction-causing substance can be distressing to many people. Worries over withdrawal, loss of a coping device, and other similar fears are not something a person in recovery often looks forward to. 

Thankfully, humans can adapt and overcome. With the right coping skills in place, you can transition to a life of recovery and sobriety while reducing anxious thoughts and feelings. 

Choosing a life of sobriety is a brave and noble decision. For those looking for advice on coping with difficult moments during recovery, here are a few tips: 

Coping with Anxiety in Sobriety 

Remember Why You Chose Sobriety 

When you are feeling anxious, remind yourself of the “why” behind choosing sobriety and the benefits of that decision. You may now have more money to save or spend on other things that you enjoy. Perhaps you are now able to repair a strained relationship with someone you love? Giving up drugs or alcohol can spare you from many potentially serious medical complications. 

It’s important to remind ourselves of the “why”. It motivates us to continue doing what’s in our best interest. Keep a memento in your wallet, pocket, or on your keychain. When you are feeling anxious, look at it and recall your main reason for choosing sobriety. 

Remind Yourself what You’re Feeling is Normal

Anxiety is a natural and completely normal feeling. When you are experiencing these emotions, it is okay to acknowledge them to yourself or out loud. Accepting how you are feeling in the moment and identifying it can help you take control of your thoughts and believe that it will eventually pass. 

Attend a 12-Step Meeting 

12-Step meetings provide a gathering place for those living through recovery and likely experiencing similar feelings of anxiety. People can share their struggles, their successes, and offer advice to one another without judgment or shame. Some 12-step programs may also connect you with a “sponsor,” who is your personal mentor and has lived successfully in sobriety for a long period of time. 

Lean On a Loved One 

If you are feeling anxious, reach out to a friend or family member that you trust. For some, just having another person to talk to can help them de-escalate and relax. Having friends and/or family members that you can turn to can help you feel less alone when these thoughts enter your mind. 

Redirect Your Anxious Energy 

Many individuals who experience anxiety feel an increased tension. This can become overwhelming and distressing. Having an outlet for that energy can play a pivotal role in calming down and feeling at peace. 

Choose an outlet for your energy that you enjoy. For some, this could be going for a run or heading to the gym. If you’re more creative, pick up your favorite instrument, draw, write, or do any other productive activity that comes to your mind that allows you to release that tension. 

Practice Stress Management 

Stress is a common trigger for many unhealthy behaviors, and it can also magnify feelings of anxiety. 

Practice healthy stress management whenever you are feeling tense. These can include techniques like: 

  • Taking a series of deep breaths 
  • Practicing calming exercises like yoga or going for a short walk 
  • Giving yourself a few minutes to do an activity or play a game that you enjoy 
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting a healthy amount of sleep 

You can also practice the 4 A’s of stress management, which are: 

  • Avoid stress triggers by taking control of your surroundings, learning to say “no,” and prioritizing your activities for the day. 
  • Alter your situation by asking others to modify their behavior, communicate your feelings clearly, practicing better time management, and set polite boundaries with others. 
  • Accept that you cannot change everything, but you can try talking with someone who’s affected you, forgiving others, talking to yourself positively, and learning from mistakes. 
  • Adapt by changing your expectations and standards, stopping negative thoughts in their tracks, reconsidering the situation from another perspective, applying a personal mantra, and create a list of things you enjoy in life. 

Ground Yourself

Anxious thoughts can sometimes make a person feel disoriented or out of place in their surroundings. In these moments, it’s important to practice grounding techniques. One popular grounding method is the 5-4-3-2-1 method. It’s rather simple and can prove quite effective: 

  • Identify 5 objects you see in your immediate vicinity. They can be anything from a pen to a house, a car, a laptop, etc. 
  • Think of 4 items you can touch like your clothing, a pillow, keys, etc. 
  • Acknowledge 3 sounds that you can hear like music, fans, a car engine, etc. 
  • Name 2 things that you can smell like a candle, fresh air, etc. 
  • Think of 1 thing you can taste like coffee aftertaste, mint from a piece of gum, etc. 

Speak with a Mental Health Professional

Having someone to talk to can help relieve the anxious tension that you might be feeling. A mental health professional can provide an objective ear and speak with you about your struggles while keeping your best interest in mind. 

Feeling Anxious About Sobriety? Let’s Talk 

At Compassion Behavioral Health, we want to help you bravely enter sobriety with the confidence you need to overcome moments of anxiety. This is why we offer both addiction and mental health treatment services to communities across South Florida. To learn more, contact us online anytime or call us at (844) 999-0874.