woman in therapy for anxiety

5 Tips for Coping With Anxiety in Early Recovery

When you’re leaving treatment, you may feel excited to get back to normal life and implement everything you’ve learned. But many people also have anxiety in early sobriety about returning to their previous lives and obligations. They may worry about temptations, or about if they can maintain their sobriety in the face of old stresses and obligations.

These feelings are completely normal and natural. Anxiety and addiction recovery can sometimes go hand in hand. Sobriety is a precious thing and it’s only natural to fear a relapse. But there are many measures you can take to alleviate the anxiety that comes with early recovery. It’s just a matter of preparation and self-knowledge.

Identify Your Triggers Before Leaving Treatment

If you’ve decided to enter recovery, you definitely know the risks of using your addictive substance. But that doesn’t mean the temptation won’t re-emerge again. It’s important to have self-awareness of your triggers so you won’t feel helpless when you’re facing them out in the real world.

Triggers for substance use may include:

  • Pressure to perform at your job
  • A certain time of day, i.e. late at night
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Dealing with a difficult person
  • Disruption to your routine
  • Failure or making a mistake
  • A toxic relationship
  • Mental exhaustion

Take your anxiety in recovery and channel it toward prevention. Spend time in individual therapy (or in a group therapy session) to discuss your triggers for using addictive substances. You may have to work to break unhealthy habits to maintain sobriety, but it will certainly be worth it.

Practice Mindfulness and Grounding

Mindfulness is the act of working to be present in the current moment, not thinking in hypotheticals or reflecting on the past. The act of being present can help remind us of our goals and keep our eyes on the ultimate goal of maintaining sobriety.

Grounding exercises are activities that aid in achieving mindfulness in the moment. They are often composed of breathing exercises and noticing details of the current state, such as taste and smell. Some people choose to perform exercises or stretches to help keep them in the present moment. It’s helpful to know which grounding exercises work for you before leaving treatment, so you’re ready to react when you have anxiety in early sobriety.

Build in Time For Healthy Habits

Maintaining a routine is a key aspect of learning and maintaining sobriety. This is often enforced in treatment centers, as well as sober living homes. However, this becomes much more challenging when you’re back in the real world and have new responsibilities.

Depending on your schedule, there are many different health habits you can choose to take on. A few examples include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Brushing teeth twice per day
  • Walking a neighbor’s dog every day
  • Watering a plant every day
  • Drinking water with every meal
  • Cleaning your home in some part every day
  • Practice a musical instrument
  • Calling a relative, close friend, or sponsor

It’s important to be consistent with healthy habits to help maintain sobriety. Not only will you benefit from the habits themselves, but you’ll also build confidence and pride in yourself by staying consistent. Just keep in mind that consistency is more important than perfection.

Keep A Mood Journal

If you’re new to journaling, there are many benefits to journaling in recovery. When becoming sober, you’re learning how to manage emotions in new contexts without using substances as a coping mechanism. Keeping track of how you feel in different contexts (and after certain triggers come up) will help you learn what brings you to a state where you want to use substances. Anxiety in early sobriety frequently leads to the temptation to use substances again. You can avoid relapse by staying aware and learning how to manage your emotions in this context.

Ask For Help

man suffering from anxiety

A common trait of people who suffer from addiction is feeling like they’re alone in their struggle. Not everyone is addicted to substances, but most people understand struggling with a chronic problem. The people in your life may be happy to hear you talking about your struggles instead of keeping it all inside.

If you feel like you’re struggling with temptation for addiction, here are a few phrases to use when asking a person who doesn’t suffer from addiction for help:

  • “I’m feeling a lot of stress, can I talk it out with you?”
  • “What do you usually do to cope with stress?”
  • “Can we take a walk? I want to decompress.”
  • “Look, I feel like I want to drink. Can we do something fun?”
  • “I’m learning how to cope with stress while sober. Have you ever felt stress like that?”

It’s important to exercise self-care in recovery from addiction, especially if you feel anxiety in recovery. But asking for help is a valuable tool in working toward a sustainable recovery that’s supported by the people in your life.

Develop Anti-Stress Strategies (Before Leaving Treatment)

Before leaving to begin rebuilding your life after addiction, it’s important to remember that stress will always be a part of your life. It’s important to think about how you can cope with stress before the temptation to use substances. Think about activities you can do to alleviate stress, such as breathing exercises or looking up funny videos on your phone. There will be no perfect day, and it’s important to think about how you’ll avoid using addictive substances to cope with stress in the future.

Celebrate Recovery at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare

There is always hope for recovery from addiction. Support and a commitment to healing can bring incredible results, and it is never too late to begin a journey toward recovery. Don’t let the fear of relapse stop you from pursuing the healthy option for you and your loved ones. Contact us and start the journey today.