There are several common reasons why some people fall into the pattern of substance abuse, and some of the most common tend to trace back to issues like anxiety. Many people struggle to find proper outlets for their stresses and anxious times, and when this sort of thing builds up to an intolerable level, some unfortunately turn to substances as a remedy.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re proud to offer caring alcohol and drug addiction recovery programs around Boise, Washington and Oregon, including for those who have fallen into substance abuse patterns based partially or even fully on a need to manage anxiety. One part of the recovery approach for some people in this position involves finding separate, healthier ways to relax and manage stress, anxiety and other mental struggles without the use of substances as a crutch. And while this approach will generally be combined with other tactics for a comprehensive recovery, let’s use today’s blog to focus on certain specific forms of relaxation that may be beneficial to those looking to remove their reliance on substances for this purpose.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
For many people, one of the most effective forms of relaxation comes from a practice known as progressive muscle relaxation. This involves systematically tensing and then relaxing various muscles throughout the body, one at a time in sequence.
To do this properly, it’s recommended that you first focus on the group of muscles in one particular area — such as your feet or hands — and tense them for around five seconds before releasing the tension over the course of around another five seconds. As you do this, take deep breaths in and out to help your body truly relax. After that, you can move on to the next group of muscles, repeating the process one area at a time for as long as desired until your body and mind feel relaxed.
By focusing on one individual group of muscles at a time, the idea is that you can effectively help reduce your overall stress levels, thus providing you with a greater capacity for relaxation and improved mental state.
Another common and often useful form of relaxation involves deep breathing exercises. It’s a relatively simple exercise that can help to reduce your heart rate and lower your overall stress levels through the mindful focus on taking in oxygen in deeply relaxing ways.
To do this properly, start by finding a comfortable position either sitting or lying down, then take a long, slow breath through your nose followed shortly by an equally slow breath through your mouth. As you do this, let the air out of your lungs slowly and focus on how it feels to really breathe in deeply and exhale fully at a leisurely pace.
Down related lines, some people find mindfulness techniques to be useful for relaxation purposes. This involves focusing on being completely present in the moment — taking time to consider the feeling of being alive and how your body is engaging with its surroundings. It can be a powerful way to free your mind from worries and bring about a more relaxed mental state in which you have greater clarity and understanding of the world that surrounds you.
The act of mindful meditation may involve focusing on certain positive mantras, visualizing calming imagery or simply paying close attention to your breath and the sensations that accompany it.
Present Focus Activities
For many people, anxiety is primarily based around long-term worries and fears. But a powerful way of counteracting this is by engaging in activities that are solely focused on the present moment.
For some, this involves reading a book in a completely distraction-free environment. For others, it may be painting or drawing. In still other cases, simply noticing and reminding yourself of the things around you – sounds you hear, sensations you feel and so on – can help remind you to focus more actively on the present moment and let go of your anxious struggles.
In other cases, many people find great relief from specific activities such as yoga, massage or even simply taking a leisurely walk in an outdoor environment. The key here is to find an activity that works for you and then actively pursue it regularly in order to reap the full relaxation benefits.
It’s important to recognize that removing oneself from substance abuse patterns based around anxiety can be incredibly difficult. But with proper focus and effort, it can be done. We hope these relaxation tips have been useful for those looking to transition away from substance use in order to manage stress, anxiety and other mental struggles. Everyone has a different way of finding peace and relaxation, so don’t give up if the first few attempts don’t seem to work quite right – just keep trying until you find something that works for you.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re proud to offer comprehensive treatment for those struggling with addiction and substance abuse around Boise, Washington or Oregon. If you or someone you know is in need of recovery services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and see how our programs may be able to help.