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Coping Skills to Add to Your Recovery Toolkit

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

In recovery, you come across a lot of talk about “coping skills” that you have probably also discussed at length with your substance use counselor as well as your peers in group sessions. The basic coping skills of learning to manage your stress, building a support network and self-care are broad enough to apply to anyone recovering from substance use disorder. There are more specific helpful techniques that exist but that aren’t always applicable to everyone’s situation. It’s important to seek out new coping skills as you never know when you will come across a new one you can add to your life that can help keep you on your journey.

Coping Skills to Add to Your Recovery Toolkit

Breathing Techniques

While breathing is a natural function of the human body that keeps us alive, the focus on intentional breathing patterns has always had its place in recovery of various illnesses like generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, addiction, and more. There are some people who feel so strongly about “breathwork” that they’ve evangelized their techniques around the world to help others. There have even been medical studies conducted about some methods that boast powerful effects for the body even to help fight off inflammation and disease. If you’re a beginner, start with something simple until you feel ready to dabble in some of the more advanced breathwork that seems to be helping people in recovery stave off triggers and anxiety that can lead to relapse.

Reducing Muscle Tension

You can work hard to reduce stress in your life to help aid your recovery but, ironically, that can also be somewhat stressful. Though you’re avoiding main blatant stressors, your body may be absorbing it regardless, especially in your neck and shoulder area. If you feel you may be carrying tension there or anywhere in your body, consider getting a massage or experimenting with acupuncture with a reputable practitioner. Relieving that tension can help keep you balanced and also be a form of self-care which is crucial for long-term success.

Physical Activity

The hormones released in the body during any form of exercise from dancing to yoga are beneficial for people who are looking to help rewire their brain after addiction. Not only is exercise healthy, but it’s a great way to burn off nervous or negative energy. In recovery, you will often find yourself face-to-face with your raw emotions; those can sometimes be feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, and regret. Previously, substance use may have been a tool to push those emotions back, but exercise is an excellent alternative outlet, with the obvious added health benefits for the mind and body.

Mental Stimulation

Addiction can wear away some of the brain’s cognitive strength after time. In recovery, it’s important to stimulate and use these mental faculties affected as much as possible in attempts to reconnect and rebuild what was lost. A great way to do so while also developing a coping skill is to combine the two with a mentally stimulating hobby or skill like knitting, painting, puzzle or model building, woodworking, gardening, and endless more options depending on your interests. Pouring yourself into an engaging hobby can take your mind away from dark places as you rebuild

Coping skills should fit your lifestyle, so not everyone will have the same methods. The important thing is to continue experimenting with ways to push stress and negativity away from your daily routine and keep yourself prepared to deal with any potential relapse triggers with the tools you’ve picked up along your path towards long-lasting recovery.

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