Dealing with Anxiety in Recovery

dealing with anxiety in recovery

Anxiety is something that many people face in recovery. After using drugs or alcohol for many years, we teach ourselves to deal with uncomfortable feelings and experiences by using substances. Without drugs in our lives, we have to find new ways to face things like anxiety, worry, and daily stress. Without some method of action, anxiety can get the best of us.

We can find ways to relieve anxiety and work with it. There are relaxation techniques like One Mind Dharma’s Guided Meditation for Anxiety, Stress, and Worry Relief, methods of working with anxiety when it arises, and ways we can build a life that promotes ease. We can also of course seek help from a psychotherapist. Here are a few ways we have found to relieve anxiety in early recovery.

Mindfulness Meditation

Whether you’re experiencing general anxiety or suffering from a serious anxiety disorder, meditation may be a useful tool to have in your toolbox. The practice of mindfulness can help us slow down, learn to respond differently to the anxiety when it arises, and help us to create a sense of ease in our lives.

You can find a local meditation group, listen to guided meditations on the Internet, or talk to somebody you know who meditates. In recovery, a lot of people use meditation as a tool to help with things like stress and anxiety.

Pausing Throughout Our Days

During our days, we may find stress and worry arising and taking over. If we are to live sober, we need to learn to tolerate the discomfort that arises. This doesn’t mean we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations or just allow ourselves to suffer.

We can train ourselves to be with the pain and difficulties without reacting so strongly. When anxiety arises, what can you do to change your relationship to it? Are you resisting? See if you can pause, take a few deep breaths, and just notice that the anxiety is there. So much of our discomfort comes from our reactions to things, and not the actual experience itself. Although anxiety is indeed uncomfortable, our reactions often make it worse.

meditation for anxiety reliefWatching Our Consumption

What we eat and consume can dramatically impact our levels of anxiety. There are many foods the can help or hurt anxiety, teas that may reduce worry, and substances which exacerbate anxious feelings. For example, sugar, caffeine, and nicotine have all been found to worsen symptoms of anxiety, while protein and omega-3 fatty acids are correlated with lessened feelings of anxiety.

By watching what you eat, you can encourage a relaxed and calm nervous system. Sometimes in moments of anxiety we crave foods and drinks that actually worsen our symptoms. Try to be mindful of what you choose to consume in moments of worry and when you are stressed! As Happy Happy Vegan shares, a vegan diet may help combat stress and anxiety.

Dedicating Time to Relaxation

We need to take time out to really relax. Sometimes our busy lives take hold and we don’t remember to take time to relax ourselves. It can help to really dedicate some time to relaxation. Set aside a day or part of a day to take care of yourself. A day of relaxation can help reset your nervous system and allow yourself to return to a state of ease.

Try going to see a movie, get outside and spend some time in nature, or read a book. Maybe we can treat ourselves to something more special, but relaxation doesn’t always need to be grand or big. It can be a relatively easy and simple form of relaxing.

Letting Go of Unnecessary Stress

In our journey into recovery we need to find ways to minimize the stress we experience. Sometimes, early recovery can be filled with drama. We use stress and drama a bit like a drug, to relieve ourselves from feeling other discomfort or looking inward. We can make an effort to actually let go of stressful and anxiety-producing situations in our lives.

Maybe it is relationships, our work life, or how we carry ourselves in everyday life. What is causing you stress, and what can you let go of? Sometimes we have to face stress and deal with it, but other times we can choose to be free from the situations that we don’t need in our lives that are causing us pain and difficulty.


Finally, a therapist can be incredibly helpful when we’re dealing with severe anxiety. Things like cognitive behavioral therapy have proven to be incredibly effective in helping with addiciton and anxiety both, and may make a huge difference in your anxiety levels.

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