Anxiety is a common emotion that is often experienced in recovery. Feeling fear, worry, and unease can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to maintain your sobriety and rebuild your life. However, it is essential to remember that anxiety is a natural response to change and uncertainty, and there are several ways to cope with this emotion and stay focused on your journey.

Some common signs of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worrying 
  • Having racing thoughts or irrational thoughts
  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Feeling tired or exhausted without physical exertion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feeling irritable 
  • Avoiding situations

In addition, anxiety can cause physical symptoms as well. These may include sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, or nausea. Anxiety can lead to panic attacks and cause symptoms like chest pain, palpitations, or the feeling of losing control.

Ways to Cope When You Feel Anxious

The first step in coping with anxiety is acknowledging your feelings without judgment. Understand that it is okay to feel anxious, and recovery is a significant life transition. Allow yourself to experience these emotions without trying to suppress or ignore them. Accepting your feelings opens the door to exploring healthier coping mechanisms.

Try the following ways to cope when you feel anxious:

  • Practice mindfulness: Being mindful can help keep you focused on the present moment and reduce the overwhelming negative thoughts and worries that fuel anxiety. Meditation is one way to practice mindfulness. By focusing on your breath and observing your thoughts, you can learn to gain better control over your emotions and reactions. Regular mindfulness practices can help lower anxiety levels and enhance coping skills.
  • Engage in regular exercise: Physical activity is a powerful tool to combat anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural stress relievers, and helps regulate your mood. Find a physical activity that you enjoy and look forward to doing. Engaging in regular exercise not only improves your physical health but also has a positive impact on your mental well-being.
  • Create a routine: During treatment, you may have had a routine to follow. In recovery, having a routine is essential as well. Having structure in your daily life can reduce uncertainty and provide a sense of stability, which can help reduce anxiety. Create a routine that consists of regular mealtimes, sleep patterns, and activities.  
  • Build a support network: You may feel lonely in recovery, and this can cause anxiety. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or other supportive individuals can give you a sense of community and let you know you are not alone. You can attend support group meetings to share your experiences and learn from others who are also on their recovery journey.  
  • Identify and avoid triggers: Identify triggers that can cause your anxiety and avoid them as much as possible. This might include certain places, people, or situations that remind you of your past substance use or trigger negative emotions. When you recognize your triggers, you can plan to prevent potential relapses and manage your anxiety more effectively.
  • Limit caffeine and sugar intake: Caffeine and sugar can contribute to increased feelings of anxiety. Consuming caffeine can make you feel jittery and trigger a racing heart, while sugar spikes and crashes can affect your mood. Limit your intake of these substances and choose healthy foods that can help stabilize your energy levels and emotions.
  • Be gentle with yourself: Be gentle with yourself throughout your journey. It is natural to experience setbacks and challenges, but being negative and hard on yourself can worsen anxiety. Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend or relative in a similar situation.  

Do not hesitate to seek professional help if your anxiety becomes overwhelming or unmanageable. Talk to a therapist, counselor, or mental health professional for valuable support and guidance. 

Contact Our Pennsylvania Recovery Center

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, we are here to help. At Mountain Laurel Recovery Center in Pennsylvania, we offer a comprehensive range of programs and services to fit your individual needs. To learn more about what we have to offer, please contact us today to begin your journey of lasting recovery