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Why Do We Need Healthy Emotional Coping Skills?

To help ourselves move forward in our recovery, we want to explore different ways of coping with our intense emotions. Sobriety brings up all kinds of feelings, including anger, sadness, anxiety, and shame. We’re not used to handling these emotions in healthy ways since we’ve always relied on an addictive substance or behavior. Many of us have developed compulsive behavioral patterns of reaching for our drug of choice whenever we feel overwhelmed. We feel unable to handle our emotions without them. Substance abuse has left us disconnected from our inner selves. Over the years, we’ve lost touch with our emotional resilience and our inner strength and power. We doubt our ability to weather the storms of our emotions. In early recovery, we often feel weak, hopeless, and defeated. We lose faith in ourselves.

Relying On Our Drugs of Choice as Coping Mechanisms

Rather than allowing ourselves to feel our emotions, we resist and avoid them at all costs. We suppress them and deny them. When it comes to especially intense feelings, we pretend they’re not there at all. When emotions crop up, we beat ourselves up for feeling them. This emotional resistance keeps us from developing healthy emotional coping skills. We’re using our drugs of choice to manage our emotions rather than learning how to process them in healthy ways. Handling our emotions is a necessary skill for long-term recovery. If we don’t learn this skill, we leave ourselves vulnerable to relapse every time we feel overwhelmed by a strong emotion. Our drug of choice will still have its claws in us, especially when we feel emotionally triggered.

The Practice of Finding What Helps Us and Committing to It

Developing healthy emotional coping skills is a practice. It takes time to find what works for each of us as individuals. Honing these skills requires commitment and dedicated energy. We want to be patient with ourselves during this process. Picking up an entirely new set of skills doesn’t happen overnight, but when it does happen, the results are well worth the wait. Start by taking some suggestions from others in recovery. Many of us exercise and spend time in nature to help ourselves relieve anxiety. We journal, listen to music, meditate, and practice yoga. Others find solace in energy healing practices like Reiki, Tai chi, and tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique.) We spend time with loved ones, go to support group meetings, and process our fears in therapy. It’s important to commit to a routine of self-care and spiritual practice. Building these new coping skills into our daily routine makes them a habit. Instead of reflexively reaching for a drink or drug, we’ll more easily turn to a healthy coping strategy. Part of our recovery work is learning how to manage the very real anxiety that presents itself in our lives. There are a ton of viable methods to learn about, but the most important thing is to make a beginning. 

Learning to cope with difficult emotions can take years, but you can start right away. At The Guest House Ocala, we have personal recovery experience and over 12 years in the recovery industry. We have helped countless people recover, and we’re here to help you too. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.