Life in the sober lane can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially immediately following rehabilitation. That is why it is crucial to develop new responses and find alternatives other than drugs or alcohol to regulate one’s emotions.
However, learning to work through emotions so that they don’t interfere with behavior and decision-making is more challenging for someone who is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse issues. It requires a certain degree of self-awareness paired with a lot of practice, commitment and guidance from someone with experience.
Here are 4 ways to help keep your feelings in check.
1. Find social support.
Building a new social network of people who can remind the addict of reasons why they went to rehab in the first place is an important way to combat loneliness. This support system can also help the recovering individual keep their feelings in check when emotions start to run high. Recovery groups such as AA are a good place to make sober friends or find a sponsor to turn to when emotions are difficult to handle.
2. Practice mindfulness.
It is easy for addicts who have gone through treatment to become resentful and angry, and act out behaviors that they’ll later regret. Consider mindful meditation, a type of meditation that teaches people to observe their emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them or overreacting. Daily affirmations and directing thoughts in a more positive direction can help keep feelings in check as well.
3. Go to counseling.
Guilt is a common emotion among addicts who enter treatment and, unfortunately, it can easily drive someone into relapse. Guilty feelings may arise from the memory hurting someone we love, physically or emotionally. For example, it is not unusual for family members of an addict to inadvertently refer to the past and bring up the addiction. Someone who is fresh out of recovery may experience guilt due to these comments and become triggered. Preparing a plan and exploring options on how to respond to this type of situations is fundamental to keeping one’s feelings in check. A professional therapist can then help the individual learn how to develop strategies in advance for when guilt arises down the line.
4. Walk away.
When you are flooded by negative thoughts, sometimes the best option is to just physically move away. Go for a walk, breathe deeply, calm yourself and when the emotions have passed, re-enter the situation. Removing yourself from a heated moment should not be considered rude. In fact, it may actually preserve your relationships and allow for a new perspective. Later, when you have a peaceful moment, document the situation in a diary or journal. This provides a tangible source of information to remind you what triggered the stress and how you successfully kept your feelings in check without resorting to drugs or alcohol.
Addiction is an emotional disease. But regardless of the feelings that come up, finding ways to keep your emotions in check on a daily basis is integral to sticking to keeping your sober life. If you or someone you know is seeking help for addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.