It is not uncommon to feel anxious, but when anxiety overtakes every aspect of your life, you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. And if you’re also in recovery from a substance use disorder, it’s especially important that you take steps to manage that anxiety.
Identifying Causes for Anxiety
Almost anything can cause anxiety. Starting a new job, going on a first date, or having stress at your place of employment may trigger anxiety for some people but not others. You may be able to easily identify what triggers your anxiety, or you may need help from a professional to recognize symptoms of anxiety and what causes it for you. Anxiety can be genetic, or it can be a side effect of a medication. Other mental health disorders such as depression may accompany anxiety.
Once you identify the cause of your anxiety, you can deal with it in a healthy way rather than be tempted toward using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. When you are in recovery, learning your anxiety triggers is essential to preventing relapse.
Some common triggers for anxiety include:
- Chronic pain
- Past or present trauma
- A phobia, such as a fear of heights or a fear of small spaces
- Life changes
Once you can identify what causes you to feel anxiety, you can limit your exposure or learn coping techniques to manage your anxious thoughts.
Ways to Manage Anxiety While in Recovery
Many treatment centers, including Mountain Laurel Recovery Center, work with clients who have a dual diagnosis, meaning that you may have both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder such as anxiety. If you have been treated for a dual diagnosis, your doctor may have prescribed medication to treat the mental health disorder. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions.
In addition to medication, the following techniques can be used to manage anxiety:
- Focused breathing. You can take the attention off your anxious thoughts by practicing focused breathing. Deep, focused breathing helps slow down your heart rate and lower blood pressure. Find out more about the different techniques for deep breathing here.
- Meditation. Calming your mind, relaxing, and focusing on the present can help reduce your anxiety and keep you at peace. Meditation has many benefits and can be used to help manage anxiety. If you are new to meditation, consider using an app like Calm to guide you through the process.
- Journal your thoughts. Writing down what caused you to feel anxious can be an effective way to deal with the emotion. Seeing your thoughts in writing can help you find perspective.
- Get exercise. Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety. Focusing on the body and breath can help you feel energized and less stressed. Eating a healthy, balanced diet supports your body so that it can get the most out of exercise.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for managing anxiety. If you feel exhausted, it can be difficult to manage stressful situations. Sleep is a time to relax your mind and body so you can better deal with feelings of anxiety.
- Therapy. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), many types of therapy can help alleviate anxiety. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, interpersonal therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and more.
Mountain Laurel Recovery Center is Here to Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder as well as anxiety, contact Mountain Laurel Recovery Center for help. We can assess your condition and create an individualized treatment plan to meet your specific needs. To find out more about what programs and services we have to offer in our Pennsylvania recovery center, contact us online today.