Everyone feels anxiety every once in a while. In recovery, you’ll often feel confronted with something that’s difficult, which can easily make you feel fearful or nervous.
Feeling anxious is a normal state for most people in early recovery. It’s hard to start over, and it may feel like you’re doing many things in life for the first time. It’s normal to feel nervous every once in a while. You also may have some anxiety and mood swings as well as your body adjusts to life without the use of substances. Your body still needs time to adjust to the newer, healthier you.
Getting used to life in recovery may feel challenging, but you’re up for it! You’ll learn new coping skills and with time will walk through the fear on your own. Doing things that you’re scared of will help you feel less scared of other challenges in the future.
If you find that your anxiety is overwhelming or you have panic attacks, it’s important to speak with a therapist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional to help you
Here are some proven ways to help yourself learn to cope with anxiety:
- Act it out: If you’re nervous about certain situations that you’re going to confront in life, such as running into old drinking or using buddies, act out the situations with your sponsor or somebody else you trust. The first time you act it out, play the other person instead of yourself. This will give your counterpart a view of how you see the situation and what you believe will happen. Then reverse roles, playing yourself again. Ask for tips on what to say or do. You can repeat your part multiple times until you feel comfortable.
- Learn how to relax and let go. Relaxation techniques can help you learn to let go of anxiety and live in the moment, appreciating it. There are a lot of different ways to relax available to you, and the Internet is your friend. Look for videos teaching mindfulness, relaxation, and meditation. Your phone’s app store also has a lot of apps to help you with this as well. Videos teaching these are easy to find online. There are also phone apps that can help you relax as well, and more of them are free.
- Do something that you used to love. Everyone has hobbies or other activities they like to do. When you were using alcohol and drugs, you probably stopped doing those things. There’s never a better time to revisit the things you loved to do before you started using alcohol or drugs. Even if these interests go back to your childhood, you may still want to give yourself a chance to resume it. Collect race car toys, learn how to make jewelry, or learn how to make bread. If you don’t have the money to start these hobbies, you can always watch videos about them online for free or check out a book at the library to learn more. If your hobby was listening to music, then you find endless supplies of legal music downloads and streams online.
- Commit to regular exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should get “at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.” This will help regulate your blood pressure, which can play a role in anxiety. Exercise helps release endorphins, a feel-good chemical that helps combat anxiety as well as depression. Take a walk on the side of the beach or to your favorite park. Join a bicycling club. If you’ve never really exercised before, start slow. Try taking a 15-minute walk every day and build up to longer walks.
These are just a few creative ways to help you cope with anxiety. See which ones work for you and don’t feel shy about asking other people in recovery what they do, too, to combat anxiety.
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