Emotions aren’t inherently bad or good. However, the way in which you respond to emotions is critical in helping you stay on track with the goals you set for your recovery. If you’re finding that it’s a challenge to keep your emotions in check, know you’re not alone. Many individuals struggle with emotional issues. But, when you have to face the additional challenges of addiction, it makes it even more difficult to manage emotions and recovery. Be patient with yourself and stay proactive with your treatment plan, goals and recovery.
Addiction is already emotional in itself. You might have used drugs as a way to escape your emotions. Your emotions might have been too difficult or painful to handle. Substances provided you with an easier route, at first.
But, this escape ended up causing you more emotional issues than it did solve them. Substances don’t erase your emotions or make your life better. Even if you were able to bury your emotions with drugs at first, these substances eventually stop helping and start making things worse.
Sobriety and recovery can be just as emotional as addiction. Sober emotions, however, are productive. They help you:
- Process your experiences
- Express yourself
- Move forward in life
Using drugs only takes you backwards. Being sober isn’t about erasing your emotions, since nobody can do that. It involves learning how to effectively manage your emotions and, as a result, becoming a stronger person.
The Emotions, Thoughts and Behavior Connection
While controlling feelings isn’t possible, controlling the way you respond to them is. Cognitive behavioral therapy works with the connection between feelings (emotions), thoughts and behavior where each component is connected (cognitive triangle).
- Your thoughts create your feelings.
- Your feelings create your behaviors.
- Your behaviors create your thoughts.
You can avoid making poor emotion-driven decisions by understanding this connection. For instance, if watching the news makes you anxious, you might want to take a break from this source of your anxiety (the news) instead of allowing your anxious thoughts to provoke a craving that you can’t ignore.
How to Keep your Emotions and Recovery in Check
Below are seven ways to help you keep your emotions in check during your addiction recovery and beyond.
1. Acknowledge your Emotions
The absolute first thing you must do is acknowledge your emotions. While it’s crucial that you don’t allow your emotions to take hold over you during addiction recovery or any time in your life, you still can’t pretend you don’t have them and you shouldn’t suppress them.
The addiction recovery process will involve various changes in your day-to-day behavior, habits and lifestyle. You’ll also experience the challenges of psychological and physical withdrawal from drugs. This can bring about several different emotions.
Emotions, however, are a natural part of anyone’s life. At times, though, they can be overwhelming. The best way to ensure you don’t let your emotions take over your life is to acknowledge them and know they exist. Once you do this, then you can begin understanding why you’re experiencing them and put your body and mind at ease. If you’re experiencing negative emotions, try conjuring up positive thoughts instead. This reaction is a good way to make your addiction recovery better manageable.
2. Distract Yourself
To keep your emotions in check, don’t underestimate the power of distraction. For instance, you can listen to a favorite song or watch a funny video to help avoid overreacting to a minor issue.
Treatment usually dives into distraction techniques. And, while distraction isn’t necessarily a permanent solution to your emotions, it can help you pause before you have to process them. This allows you to put some time and space between yourself and your possibly triggering situations or thoughts.
Early stage disengagement can regulate low- and high-intensity emotional data successfully before it gathers force according to the Association for Psychological Science.
During times of stress, mindfulness meditation can be an incredibly calming experience. Even if time doesn’t allow you to engage in full practice, you can still take several deep breaths while repeating a favorite positive affirmation. This will also work to settle your emotions.
Another popular and effective method that helps you cope with negative emotions is journaling. Jotting down your emotions and thoughts will help you understand them better. When you write down your day-to-day experiences in recovery, you’ll be able to look back at your writing and notice any thought patterns you might need to address.
5. Work with a Therapist
Regularly meeting with a therapist one on one a couple times a week during your recovery can really help you:
- Work through your feelings
- Learn new coping techniques for emotions
- Ask questions and receive advice
Your therapist can help you recognize and address your emotions and teach you coping strategies to better manage them.
6. Create Emotions and Recovery Goals
When you’re focusing on a goal after treatment during recovery and actively tracking your progress, it will better allow you to manage emotional problems as they arise. You’ll still have a support system and constant contact with your therapist while you’re in recovery. This will provide you with the advantage of objectivity provided by those who can help you see signs of potential emotional problems, recognize patterns and avoid any related issues.
Exercise helps relieve stress. It releases endorphins (brain neurotransmitters) that increase feelings of pleasure and happiness. To help keep your emotions in check, you can:
- Do yoga
- Play a sport
Staying active will also help improve your physical health and this will support your mental health and how you manage your emotions.
If you’re now in recovery after completing an addiction treatment program, you might experience emotions like joy, relief, worry, loneliness, boredom, anger, fear or excitement. Your emotions might fluctuate, depending on what’s going on in your life at the time. When things aren’t going your way, you might feel angry. If you start thinking back to your past poor choices and behaviors, it could trigger guilt. At times, you might feel relief or excitement because you’re changing your life.
Either way, you should expect to experience various emotions during your recovery that might now always be pleasant. This is why it’s important you find healthy ways of embracing and managing them.
Drug addiction recovery can be an arduous, long process. Emotions are an important part of life, but when they become overwhelming they can also be destructive and harmful. Finding various methods to manage your emotions will help you heal and make recovery a bit easier. Contact us at Covenant Hills Treatment, if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and requires addiction treatment in Orange County.