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 four ways to help keep your feelings in check.
1. Find social support to manage feelings
Building a new social network of people who can remind you of the reasons you 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 to keep negative feelings in check
It is easy for recovering addicts who have gone through treatment to become resentful and angry and act out behaviors that they’ll later regret. Consider mindfulness 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 to overcome hard emotions
Guilt is a common emotion among people who enter treatment and, unfortunately, it can easily drive you into relapse. The memory of hurting someone we love physically or emotionally can trigger guilty feelings. 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 situation is fundamental to keeping one’s feelings in check. A professional therapist can then help you learn how to develop strategies in advance for when guilt arises down the line.
4. Walk away when you need to
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. 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, visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.