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support for anxiety when soberDid you know that alcohol use and anxiety typically go hand in hand? Alcohol changes serotonin levels and other transmitters in the brain, which can worsen anxiety. Then, when the alcohol wears off, you may feel even more anxious. Using alcohol as a coping mechanism may work temporarily because alcohol is a depressant and a sedative, but ultimately, alcohol can worsen anxiety.

Using any sort of substance as a coping mechanism is never the right choice, and now that you are living a sober lifestyle, it is most definitely the wrong choice. You went through all of that hard work to get sober; relapsing due to mental health struggles might lead to disappointment. Take the time to work through mental health struggles before they become large issues. Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. When that anxiety begins to disrupt other areas of everyday life, we begin to consider working on it. If you find yourself experiencing anxiety, here are a few helpful tips to help keep anxiety from spiraling to a relapse.

Talk with Someone

Whether you talk with a friend, a family member, or a professional, talk with someone about the anxiety you are experiencing. There is nothing worse for your level of stress than keeping it all to yourself. Anxiety festers and thrives when we try to push it down and act like it is not there. Even if you think that what you are feeling anxious about is something small or silly, talking about it will help. Sometimes when we talk about what we are feeling, it allows us to gain a different perspective. Our support system is here for precisely this sort of situation.

When you were working through treatment, you probably learned the importance of opening up to others, accepting support, and being willing to ask for help when you need it. Once you leave treatment, it is up to you to put the skills and tools you learned into practice. Reach out to support groups in your community. Some groups even have virtual options to increase accessibility.

Grounding Exercises

Using grounding exercises is another way to work through your anxiety. One technique you can use is known as “5-4-3-2-1.” Counting down these steps built around the five senses can help calm anxiety.

  1. Acknowledge five things you can see around you.
  2. Identify four things you can touch around you and list those four things out loud.
  3. Notice three things you can hear. These three things should be external, not anything you may be hearing internally, like your thoughts.
  4. Acknowledge two things you can smell. Take a moment to think about those smells.
  5. Name one thing you can taste, such as water, coffee, or something to eat like a sandwich.

Many people report feeling better by the time they reach the middle of the exercise!

Everyone is unique and experiences anxiety differently. An exercise that works very well for your anxiety may do little or nothing to help with someone else’s anxiety. Learning how to handle your anxiety best is very beneficial. Don’t wait until you are struggling with anxiety to finding activities that work well for you. Take the time now to work on discovery, growth, and learning; you will thank yourself later.

A Healthy Distraction

Another great way to deal with anxiety is to engage in a healthy distraction. If you have been using unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol, for years to help with your anxiety, it will be a learning process to find new activities. One example that many people find helpful is exercise. Exercise is a healthy way to distract yourself and create endorphins. Reading, writing, creating other forms of art, or listening to podcasts or music are all great options to consider doing when your anxiety flares up.

While distractions are good sometimes, it is important to point out that avoidance is not the best choice. You should always try to acknowledge how you are feeling, why you feel that way, and what is causing you to feel that way. You should always be trying to grow as a person, which means working through the challenges ahead of you. As you learned in treatment, it is always a good idea to face what is bothering you head-on. Sometimes that may mean working with a mental health professional to understand what is causing you to feel like you do. Your counselor can also help you to choose healthy distractions that are appropriate for your specific situation.

As you journey through recovery, facing mental health challenges is very important. When we do not work on our mental health, we can find ourselves in situations that can affect our sobriety. Anxiety can become life-crippling if we let it overwhelm us. Many of us used our substances to numb our anxiety and get some relief. Now that we are leading sober lifestyles learning how to handle and work on our anxiety is very important. Some of us will benefit from healthy distractions such as exercise. Others will find that talking with someone helps them to understand what they are feeling. Here at The Guest House, we know that there will be times throughout the recovery process that you may need extra support. We are here to help you succeed through all stages of your recovery. Call us today at (855) 483-7800 to learn more about how we can help you.