Acceptance is a big part of the addiction recovery process. Yet, despite your best efforts, you might find it challenging to accept how things are in the moment. You might find yourself drifting to the past or the future, worried about how events have impacted your life, or feeling anxiety or uncertainty about what lies ahead. Mindfulness can help.
By centering on the present and becoming aware of ourselves, we can learn how to soothe ourselves in times of struggle. Mindfulness-based sobriety techniques can also be a powerful form of relapse prevention.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of what we’re doing and where we are. It can help us avoid overreacting to situations or becoming overwhelmed by what’s happening around us. Mindfulness is a quality most of us possess, though we can often struggle to access it when we need it most.
Proven techniques to cultivate mindfulness include seated, walking, standing, or moving meditation. You might also merge meditation practices with other activities to achieve mindfulness, like yoga. Taking short pauses in everyday life to appreciate your immediate surroundings is also a form of mindfulness. In essence, mindfulness is noticing your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment without judgment.
For mindfulness to work, you don’t need to change who you are but rather accept yourself in the now. You can practice mindfulness at any time. Letting challenging thoughts or emotions pop up and pass without feeling overwhelmed is a great place to start. It’s an evidence-based approach that can bring proven benefits. For instance, bringing awareness and attention to all you do could help reduce stress or gain better control over your reaction to it.
Little by little, you can notice the benefits of mindfulness when you incorporate it into your everyday life. Here are just a few:
Mindfulness helps us become aware of the thoughts and feelings we experience in the moment, helping us see how we can become entangled in them in ways that aren’t helpful. Awareness of how a specific person, place, or thought makes us feel can help us make healthy changes. For instance, if a thought triggers guilt or shame, you can learn how to redirect the thought toward a healthy outlet, such as a favorite hobby.
Research supports the notion that mindfulness meditation can help you regulate emotions. If you notice a specific place conjures troubling memories, mindfulness can help you better accept these thoughts and handle them to avoid feelings of panic, for instance. Instead of worrying about your current situation, mindfulness promotes acceptance without judgment. As a result, practicing it can positively impact emotional health.
When you’re more aware of the present, you can experience things with a fresh mindset — including those things you might have taken for granted. For instance, you might take a look around you and notice how happy you are with your partner, family, or friends. You might gain a better appreciation for the simple things in life, such as feeling the sun on your face or a smile from a passing stranger.
You might even write down these events as they occur and build a daily gratitude list. Taking stock of all you appreciate can promote better well-being and satisfaction in life. Research shows practicing gratitude can increase self-esteem, improve your sleep, enhance empathy, and contribute to better moods.
Rumination is sometimes a symptom of depression and anxiety. You might obsess over certain feelings, thoughts, or beliefs that trigger symptoms of depression and vice versa. Taking a step back from these thoughts can help you recognize the patterns. Gradually, you might see how specific thoughts might be symptoms of mental health issues that have only a certain degree of control over you.
As a result, mindfulness might reduce rumination as you can learn precisely what might be causing it and learn healthy ways to change it. The changes you make can trickle into other parts of your life, helping you reduce stress, anxiety, and any challenging emotions you might not have noticed affecting you.
Mindfulness can have a positive impact on our overall well-being. Focusing on the present can help you enjoy life more and learn how to accept yourself. It can also reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Instead of brooding over or feeling trapped by perceived problems, mindfulness practices can help you recognize them and learn how to solve them more productively.
This kind of awareness might also help you notice the signs of stress and anxiety earlier to help you better deal manage them. That way, you can go through your day with less overwhelming feelings. Over time, mindfulness strategies might lead to more happiness and fulfillment in life.
Mindfulness-based sobriety is a form of addiction therapy. It involves mindfulness activities like meditation to help people in recovery stay aware of their triggers. Being able to manage unhelpful reactions to stimuli is the ultimate goal.
A mindfulness-based addiction treatment center will provide several strategies to help you cope with overwhelming feelings and emotions. You’ll learn to take a step back, center yourself in the moment, and recognize the multiple possible outcomes over situations where you only have a certain amount of control.
In other words, it’s possible to react to triggers in ways that help you rather than contribute to destructive emotions or poor health outcomes. Mindfulness can help you see these avenues to support your recovery and overall health and wellness.
Gateway Foundation offers mindfulness-based addiction treatment to help you work through challenging emotions and establish healthy coping skills. We often receive the following questions about our treatment:
While everyone can attempt mindfulness-based sobriety, it’s often more accessible for those motivated to change or naturally view their thoughts and emotions as observable experiences. In other words, it helps to be reflective and willing to try something new to put in the effort to make mindfulness work.
While not difficult to practice in itself, mindfulness requires a certain amount of self-discipline to focus only on the present and not get caught up in thoughts of the past or future. When you can learn to slow down and quiet the mental chatter, you can achieve a sense of peace which is often a reason people might turn to drugs like alcohol or opiates.
While mindfulness can help anyone with an addiction, these techniques can also benefit anyone with depression and anxiety or with challenging emotions and intrusive thoughts. You can also use mindfulness practices to overcome everyday stress that might arise from family, work, and school obligations or other personal responsibilities.
The main goal of mindfulness-based addiction treatment is learning to notice your urges without acting on them. For example, if you desire to drink, rather than making yourself feel guilty about past instances where you gave in to the feeling, you would recognize the initial urge and let it pass over you.
The same can be said about other emotions resulting from the urge to give in to a craving, such as depression, shame, anger, or fear. While the natural impulse to deal with cravings might be avoidance or suppression, these reactions often strengthen the craving. Therefore, when you can manage these emotional reactions, you will be less likely to relapse.
In this way, mindfulness-based sobriety helps you separate yourself from addictive thoughts as though observing them from a distance. Instead of judging your thoughts, the technique can help you change your perspective on the discomfort. When you let the thoughts, emotions, and feelings pass over you, cravings may start to subside on their own.
Everyone is different, and mindfulness-based addiction treatment outcomes vary from person to person. However, most people who dedicate their time to mindfulness practices notice improved emotional regulation or ability to process challenging emotions. This skill can go a long way in addiction recovery and become a powerful relapse prevention tool.
In that way, mindfulness can be very effective. People with co-occurring mental health conditions like depression and anxiety might notice improvements in their symptoms, which can significantly impact their overall recovery. After all, mental health conditions can often exacerbate addiction and vice versa, and to treat one condition, you must treat the other. You’ll learn more about yourself and the underlying triggers that contribute to addiction. From there, you can work with professionals to establish healthy coping mechanisms to overcome these stressors.
Mindfulness-based addiction treatment fits into both an evidence-based and holistic approach. At Gateway, we utilize evidence-based treatments as a foundation for your recovery. Our clients have full access to various treatment programs, but there is no one-size-fits-all strategy.
Therefore, using both an evidence-based and holistic treatment plan can be extremely valuable for recovery. Clients will benefit from mindfulness, as it aims to treat the person rather than just the addiction. It also leaves room to explore other treatment methods like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), support groups, and other forms of addiction care.
While mindfulness-based sobriety can reduce stress and help you avoid relapse, it also gives you the confidence to move forward. You can use these techniques in all aspects of your life and gain the self-compassion and encouragement to make healthy changes.
Clients of our mindfulness-based sobriety in Chicago can make these techniques part of their individualized treatment plans. Our mindfulness therapies focus on the following:
Mindfulness-based addiction treatment can be crucial to your overall health and well-being. The holistic and evidence-based approach allows you to center on the present, which can benefit a healthy, substance-free future. At Gateway, mindfulness is just one part of a complete recovery. You can appreciate other forms of therapy, from dual diagnosis to medication-assisted treatment, when you opt for mindfulness-based sobriety.
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