Anyone that has been through addiction knows how much power it can have over your mind and body. While going through recovery, most addicts learn a variety of skills that can help them battle the types of emotions, cravings, and stress that can fuel addiction. The foundations of addiction treatment are individual and group therapy but other tools such as relaxation methods can also be helpful in the process of recovery.
A person who is deeply relaxed and peaceful will be less likely to reach for a drink or other substance as a form of self-medication. They can reduce the level of stress that normally leads to addictive behavior by utilizing different relaxation techniques in their daily life. Whenever the urge to start using again comes up, employing relaxation methods can be one of the many ways to fight those addictive tendencies and remain sober.
Reducing Stress through Deep Breathing
Stress can have a real negative impact on any person’s health and for addicts, in recovery, it can be very detrimental to their progress and in some cases even lead to relapse. Fortunately, many addicts are able to receive relaxation training in their recovery programs that can help minimize the damaging effects of stress. Learning how to relax can take time, especially for people who have chronic stress in their lives but basic tools can begin the process of relaxation.
Breathing is the foundation of many relaxation techniques and meditation practices as well. Deep breathing can be one of the most immediate ways to calm the mind and body. Shallow or rushed breathing is one of the symptoms of stress and can cause a faster heart rate. Deep, slow breaths help to steady the heart rate and give people a chance to release tension throughout their bodies.
Breathing diaphragmatically or belly breathing is the most effective way to quickly reduce stress. For people with addictions, this type of breathing can be coupled with some sort of imagery exercise that will work to strengthen the mind’s resistance to cravings.
Meditation and Muscle Tension Release
When people in recovery are better able to employ breathing techniques to relax they can move on to a meditation practice that will help to focus and clear their mind. Mindfulness meditation is an effective way to reduce stress and allow people to become less reactive to situations by being more aware and present in each moment. Along with deep breathing and meditation, patients in recovery can benefit from muscle relaxation methods that can put them into a state of deep physical relaxation.
This kind of method may involve tensing and relaxing each individual muscle in a particular order allowing any muscle tension to release and helping the person to feel a deep sense of calm. Relaxation through any of these methods can be a powerful way to aid addiction rehabilitation but they must be used as a supplement to a structured recovery program that focuses on the underlying causes of addiction.
As an addict learns to master a variety of relaxation techniques they can start to practice and apply them in certain situations to minimize the buildup of stress in their lives. Having a routine of relaxing at a specific time every day can be beneficial but also employing relaxation methods in times of emergency can prevent the urge to relapse.
Stressful situations can come up at any time and be able to calm yourself down when feelings come up is an important skill to have throughout recovery. Relaxation is a way to remain more focused and in tune with yourself so that you do not allow stress or powerful emotions to take over at any point in your life.