By: New Hope Ranch Contributor | New Hope Ranch
Anxiety and stress can manifest at any given point and over any given situation. These feelings can also follow you around from day-to-day, disrupting your flow and interfering with your thoughts and behaviors. Whenever these feelings arise, it is typical to want to overcome them as quickly as possible; however, it is not always easy, which can become very troubling. When anxiety and stress continue to build, it can turn into panic, develop or exaggerate fears and phobias, and even lead to self-medicating.
If you already struggle with an anxiety disorder, developing a substance use disorder is the last thing you want accompanying these feelings. Remember, you are not alone with your anxiety; about 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Luckily, there are many effective ways to combat these feelings and even overcome them. So, the next time you feel yourself going into panic mode, don’t reach for a drug or a drink; try these lasting and meaningful approaches instead.
Manage Your Priorities
Stress can become triggered when your day lacks structure in a way that does not accommodate your needs. Work fatigue and burnout can leave you drained, which is only added on when you have to come home and clean, cook, take care of children, etc. When you are always in “go mode,” your nervous system goes on high alert and constantly searches for the next task to accomplish before day’s end. It can become a vicious cycle, and before you know it, you are more determined to complete tasks to give yourself some sense of closure. However, you are likely neglecting what your mind and body need during this process. Eventually, after doing this long enough, you might completely shut off and become unmotivated to do anything.
Having a solid structure that makes time for everything can help combat stress and anxiety. Creating consistent sleep, meal and exercise times is a great way to maintain a healthy functioning body with energy and focus in the day. Spreading out your work and home chores will also alleviate the despair you may feel after a long day of work. Instead, keeping an appropriate chore schedule throughout the week—or even bi-weekly—will help you maintain peace of mind in knowing that you can relax after work.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is self-care. Take time every day to help yourself unwind, whether it is meditation, reading, taking a bath or watching some TV. Self-care goes a long way in keeping you feeling relaxed.
Have an Exit Strategy
Those who struggle with anxiety and panic likely understand that when these feelings occur; it can seem as though you have lost control over everything. The world around you seems to consume you. Taking time to sit with and understand your triggers can help you formulate an exit strategy when such situations occur. Evaluate how you perceive and process information surrounding a triggering experience. For example, does the thought of a social setting stress you out because all you can think about is how you will have a lousy time? Sometimes shifting your perspective to overlook these exaggerated scenarios is enough to help you have a better time.
Remember, how you interpret a future endeavor can have either a negative or positive impact on the outcome. Knowing your triggers and how you process anxiety can help you plan ways to overcome situations that panic you. An example of an exit strategy may be to challenge the thought by asking rational questions about the scenario. You might consider distracting yourself from a negative thought to work on a hobby and then come back to the thought once your nervous system has calmed down. Practicing ways to endure your anxiety will help develop resilience and rationale instead of avoidance.
Stay in the Present
If you continuously fear when you will take that next drink or drug and unravel your recovery effort, first realize the present. Have you used substances today? If no, focus on this: there is no use worrying over a scenario that has not yet happened. Staying in the present also requires understanding that you cannot control the future and can’t go back and change the past. Each day is a new endeavor, and you should take them as they come. It is not to say that you cannot be proactive and stay ahead of your challenges, but don’t focus too much on what the future will bring.
At New Hope Ranch, we utilize mindfulness and meditation benefits because these practices are rooted in living in the moment and are proven to alleviate anxiety. Even practicing for 10 minutes a day can begin to shift your perspective and reduce your stress and anxiety.
New Hope Ranch is a residential recovery center in Manor, Texas, focusing on prevention, assessment, treatment and reintegration for people struggling with substance use disorder. Individuals are provided exceptional services on our beautiful 49-acre ranch just 15 minutes from downtown Austin. When patients arrive, we want to equip them with the tools they need to live a life that’s free from substance use. At New Hope Ranch, we provide structure in a caring, trusted and professional environment — our strong foundation helps elevate people to reach their potential and thrive.
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Disclaimer: Blunovus content is not therapy and is not designed to diagnose or treat any condition you may be experiencing. Please contact a medical or mental health professional for treatment that is specific to your needs.