When you’re navigating life on the addiction recovery path, there may be times when you find yourself struggling with cravings, challenging situations, or negative feelings like depression. It’s not uncommon to go through seasons of life that are more challenging than others. In fact, one of the more common complaints of those who are on the addiction recovery path is that when times get rough, they don’t always know how to cope in healthy ways.
The good news is that you can learn how to go through trying times and situations using healthy coping skills, depression included.
The following are some helpful, healthy things you can do to beat the blues when they come and stay on your recovery path.
It’s not always easy to reach out for support, but having a friend or confidante handy will help you in getting through life’s rough patches. Isolating yourself can contribute to loneliness and depression, so choosing to cultivate supportive relationships is essential.
You may hesitate at first, as you might not want to admit that you’re struggling. However, keep in mind that asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, everyone struggles with tough times occasionally. The reality is that family and friends would most likely consider it an honour to support and encourage you through such times.
Ask a family member or friend for the support you need. Be authentic with your loved ones and let them know what’s going on. Perhaps you can meet with them for a visit a couple of times a week for support and keep in touch via email or text.
Get involved in an activity. It might feel daunting, but getting involved in a community activity may do you well. What is something that you enjoy doing? Maybe you’ve walked away from doing things you like. If so, it’s time to get back involved. You can begin a new hobby or interest like painting, golfing, hiking, etc.
Visit a support group. Your community may have a support group for those that are struggling with whatever you’re dealing with. Check into it and commit to going. You’ll be surprised at how connecting with others who are going through the same thing can help you.
You might think that exercising is the last thing you want to do when you’re struggling, but it can really help. Physical exercise allows your body to release neurotransmitters and endorphins (feel-good chemicals). Therefore, making a commitment to exercise regularly may relieve your help quite a bit.
You don’t have to do a hardcore workout either; a simple 20-minute brisk walk each day may be all it takes to get your mood elevated. Consider the following ways to exercise:
If you’re struggling in your addiction recovery with something like depression, you’re likely struggling with some negative thoughts. Good news is that you can re-train your brain to go from negative thinking to positive thinking. If you’re struggling with cravings for alcohol or a drug, you can work on your thoughts regarding this as well. You may be struggling with a perspective issue, so doing some work to change your perspective may allow you to experience some relief.
Here are some great ways you can challenge and change your negative thinking:
When you’re feeling down and out, do something that you enjoy. Make a list of things that you like to do, and each day commit to engaging in several of those things. As you do, you will find that your mood elevates. The more you practice doing what you enjoy, the better you will feel all the way around.
Maybe you like to take your children to the park or go out to eat at your favourite restaurant. Or perhaps you like to walk in nature, read a good book, or go to the movies. Make a list and get to have some fun.
Your foods and drinks can contribute to your mood, so do your best to adopt healthy eating habits. This may seem like a difficult task, but if you take it slowly and begin introducing healthy foods into your diet little by little, it goes much easier.
Try not to skip meals or load up on junk food. Don’t stuff yourself full or eat in an attempt to feel happier. Food can become an addiction, so if you feel you are addicted to food, seek out the help of an addiction counsellor.
Addiction recovery oftentimes includes listening to helpful audio regularly. Take some time each day to listen to or watch inspirational or motivational material, as this will help boost your mood and give you hope. If you don’t know who to listen to, do a simple Google search on inspirational or motivational speakers and check some out to see who you resonate with. There are a plethora of speakers and coaches who have websites, blogs, and free audio and videos online.
Sometimes we just need a bit of coaching to get through obstacles and trying times. Consider hiring a Life Coach to become accountable in various areas of your life. This way, you will be able to formulate some goals and create momentum in your addiction recovery if need be. Just as athletes need a coach to help them perform at their best level, sometimes we need a coach to live to our ultimate potential.
Take some time each day to go within, as many people admit to feeling less anxious, worried, depressed, etc. when they engage in a regular spiritual discipline. Take 15 to 30 minutes per day and devote it to meditation, contemplation, sitting in nature, or prayer. Relax and enjoy peace and quiet.
Writing down your thoughts and emotions can be quite therapeutic. Begin journaling regularly. There is no right or wrong when it comes to journaling, so express yourself as you wish. You are the only one that will be reading your journal, so feel free to be raw and vulnerable. You may be surprised to look back through the months and recognize patterns about yourself, which can give you insight for changing such beliefs or behaviours.
Seeing a counsellor regularly may be necessary for you to contend with any issues that are going on under the surface. Usually, underneath an addiction, there are thoughts, belief patterns, or behaviours that need to be addressed. Whether it’s an addiction recovery expert or a professional counsellor, consider taking some time to delve under the surface to do some inner healing work.
Whether you’ve been in addiction recovery for a short or long time, knowing how to contend with trying times or life struggles can help you stay on the sobriety path. Use these tips and be proactive in your recovery. Know that even when tough times come, there are healthy ways to get through such times.
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