There are many of us who haven’t been raised with the proper tools to dealing with difficult thoughts, emotions and situations and oftentimes this is when substance abuse becomes a coping mechanism. Once recovery is sought, we essentially have to learn how to properly cope with these painful and uncomfortable moments – because we can’t turn to alcohol, drugs or other addictive patterns of behavior anymore. There’s no doubt that recovery is going to have its ups and downs, so how can we deal when we’re feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, etc.?
In 2018, Medium explained that emotional sobriety is a key component of recovery and it’s defined as,
“The ability to self-regulate, to bring ourselves into balance…”
If you’re feeling stressed, there are several strategies you can use to help work through your emotions without letting them control you:
- Distance yourself from the pull of emotions by acknowledging out loud exactly what you’re feeling. Examples: “I’m stressed”. “I’m feeling down right now”.
- Distract yourself by placing your energy towards a hobby, completing a project, or talking to a friend or family member to calm down the intensity of your emotions.
- Allow yourself to sit and feel it but give yourself a time limit. If you need to cry out what you’re feeling, give yourself 10 minutes to be completely upset – and then bring yourself back into grounding so that you can’t get carried away.
- Rely on support around you – call your 12-Step sponsor, a friend who supports your recovery, etc.
- Focus on breathing. This will keep you in the present moment and will help you avoid attaching to emotions that remind you of certain triggering events.
Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once stated,
“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.