Three Ways to Maintain Emotional Sobriety

By The Meadows Texas 

Substance abuse often starts and continues as a way of masking unwanted emotions such as anxiety, anger, disappointment, and fear. Emotional sobriety makes maintaining emotional balance in physical sobriety a reality, so you can experience feelings without getting so overwhelmed that you return to substance use. 

What Is Emotional Sobriety?

Physical sobriety is easy to understand. It is simply not using drugs or alcohol. The concept has obvious and clear lines. But emotional sobriety is just as important to your recovery — without the easy and obvious rules. 

While you may think that the term emotional sobriety means feeling good, it’s more accurate to define emotional sobriety as the ability to feel good and bad feelings. It’s also the ability to choose when to explore these feelings and when to let them come and go without impacting your overall mental health or recovery. 

Balancing emotions in sobriety doesn’t mean you ignore your feelings, as this makes them bigger and harder to deal with and more likely to cause relapse further down the road. Instead, when you have emotional sobriety, you can experience life’s ups and downs without needing drugs or alcohol to cope. You can explore your feelings with compassion and understanding, and then you can let your feelings go. This is how you practice emotional self-care in recovery

However, building emotional resilience doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, practice, and skill-building. It often takes professional support from therapists or programs like those at The Meadows Texas. And it’s always good to keep recovery tips and emotional well-being strategies close at hand so you can review them whenever you need a little extra help. If you are finding coping with emotions in addiction recovery difficult, you should explore the following three ways to maintain emotional sobriety. Try them all and find the ones and ways that work best for you.

Practice Mindfulness

The first of our emotional resilience tips is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness focuses on remaining in the present. Through daily meditation, you can learn to recognize thoughts that lead to unwanted behaviors. For example, an alcoholic may learn that thoughts of inadequacy lead to anxiety, and that this anxiety makes him or her want to drink.

Through daily meditation, you can learn to recognize thoughts that lead to unwanted behaviors.

By practicing mindfulness, you can find emotional regulation in sobriety. You learn that negative emotions don’t last forever. You can experience feelings like fear and anxiety without judging them. Knowing that the feelings will pass helps keep the emotions in perspective.

Mindfulness also teaches you that you don’t have to let thoughts dictate your behaviors. A woman who feels frightened doesn’t have to drink. She can separate her internal behaviors from her external behaviors. Even if she cannot change her feelings, she can change how she responds to her feelings.

Popular mindfulness exercises include:

  • Mindful breathing – Mindful breathing is particularly helpful when facing stress, and it can be done anywhere, any time. Inhale deeply, briefly hold, then exhale, all while focusing on your breath.
  • Mindful observation Mindful observation is another practice that is easy to access any time you need it. Pick an item near you and use your eyes to notice and explore it.
  • Mindful walking If you can leave where you are, try mindful walking. Focus on one or all aspects of walking, from the movement of your body to the ground beneath your feet.
  • Mindful meditation Mindful meditation asks you to take a moment, or several minutes, to be present and in the now. Take a mental step back, notice your thoughts, and then let them pass by without judgment.
  • Mindful eating Mindful eating involves paying attention to your hunger and satiety cues. Eat slowly and without distraction and think about the ingredients and processes that went into your meal.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise offers countless physical and mental health benefits, including those related to mental health. Exercise and emotional sobriety have a chemical connection. When you exercise, your brain produces endorphins, neurotransmitters that interact with opiate receptors to create feelings of safety, love, and relaxation. Exercise also lowers levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Nearly any type of exercise can help you find emotional stability in recovery. The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry explains that aerobic exercise reduces anxiety and depression and improves self-esteem and cognitive ability. So if your health allows it, try cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging, or swimming.

However if you aren’t able to participate in structured or more intense movement, it’s OK. The Mayo Clinic shares that any physical activity, like household chores, gardening, or light stretching, can improve mood. Work with your doctor to determine what activities you can do, find the ones you enjoy, and make exercise a regular part of your life. Better mood, better brain function, and simply feeling physically better has real benefits for your mental and emotional wellness in recovery.

Join a Reliable Support Network

Mindfulness and physical activity are great coping mechanisms for emotional sobriety, but sometimes you need outside support, guidance, and advice.

When you feel like you cannot resist using, you can turn to others for help.

Joining a reliable support network is key to balancing emotions in sobriety. It’s one of the reasons that 12-Step programs are so popular. When you feel like you cannot resist using, you can turn to others for help.

Twelve-Step groups aren’t the only options for reliable support networks. You can get emotional support from your family, church community, and friends. And if you choose to participate in a program at The Meadows Texas, you’ll have lifelong access to our alumni community.

How to Find Recovery and Emotional Sobriety

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, recovering addicts need support networks that encourage healthy decisions and staying sober. If you are struggling with sobriety, please contact us at The Meadows Texas. We are here to help.

We are here from your first steps towards physical sobriety to your long-term walk through recovery. At The Meadows Texas, you’ll learn emotional health practices like mindfulness, staying active, and connecting with others, and you’ll learn how to make them a part of your daily life. You’ll have access to compassionate, skilled therapists who can help you notice your emotions and process them without distress. You can participate in holistic practices like yoga and explore other forms of movement to find the ones that bring you the most enjoyment and mental health benefits. And you will find a support community of peers who offer a safe space to practice sharing your emotions and experiences with others.

Emotional sobriety techniques help maintain overall sobriety. When you learn to reduce negative emotions, accept emotions that you can’t control, and ask for help from members of your support group, you dramatically improve your chances of staying sober for a lifetime.