15 Sep How to Improve Your Mood Without Substances
In sobriety, there are times when feelings can be painful and sometimes overpowering. From sadness to anger to anxiousness, many of your feelings may be difficult to experience, and now that you’re sober, those feelings may have increased in intensity. When you have been in the habit of running away from your emotions by reaching for mind-altering substances, you may find that in sobriety you feel uncomfortable with your negative emotions. You feel uncomfortable in your own skin and you’re not sure how to improve your mood and make yourself feel more at ease.
Just about anything can trigger negative emotions. You could be going through something major such as a death in the family, a divorce or a job loss. Or you could be feeling sad because of a series of small losses, such as an argument with a family member or a bad day at work. It doesn’t really matter what triggered your negative feelings. What matters is how you handle them. You know you can’t pick up no matter what. If you are having difficult or unpleasant feelings, you may be at risk of relapse if you don’t learn to improve your mood without turning to alcohol or drugs.
Benefits of Physical Exercise
Physical exercise can have a positive impact on your mood, both on a short-term and a long-term basis. When you are feeling sad or anxious, you may find that your mood improves if you get active and participate in some form of physical exercise. There are many ways to increase your physical activity. Go for a walk in the park. Consider riding a bike, swimming or taking an exercise or dance class. You can even get more active by washing your car, reorganizing a closet or cleaning your house. As your heart rate increases, you may find that feelings of being melancholy or stressed may subside.
Regular exercise can trigger positive feelings on a long-term basis as well. When you make a commitment to exercising on a regular basis, you will experience many benefits. You will most likely feel better both physically and mentally. Exercise can improve not only your mood, but also your alertness and your self-esteem.
Working the 12 Steps
The 12 steps offer a clear path to recovery. By working the steps, you have a plan with clear direction as you strive toward living a healthier life. Using the steps, you can face some of the things you did in the past a little bit at a time, and you can make amends to people you’ve hurt.
Negative emotions are sometimes triggered by unresolved issues from the past. You may still be experiencing a lot of shame and guilt about bad choices you made a long time ago. During the time that you were actively abusing alcohol and drugs, you may have hurt many people. If you don’t face the past and make peace with the mistakes you once made, there is a good chance you will eventually pick up a substance just to avoid feeling your feelings.
Recovery through the 12 steps doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow, gradual healing process. But as you remain committed to following this path of recovery, you will find that your emotions become more manageable. Shame and guilt subside, and you begin to experience inner peace as you make better choices today.
Asking for Help
You may often hear it said at meetings that we are only as sick as our secrets. Bad feelings that include everything from stress to fear to disappointment can become overwhelming when they are stuffed deep inside and not shared with anyone.
Get in the habit of sharing your experiences and feelings at meetings. Share one-on-one with a sponsor or a handful of close friends. Recovery groups are based on people helping people. When you reach out to others, you are playing a part in their recovery as well as your own.
Negative emotions lose power over you when you sort through what you’re feeling with the help of others in recovery. The things that are upsetting you may not seem as overwhelming once they are shared. You are not alone.
Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.
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