MINDFULNESS IN RECOVERY
TIPS TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS IN RECOVERY
Mindfulness is a tool that we at Collective Recovery believe in so much that we have weekly groups designed to teach mindfulness tools to implement along your recovery journey.
Mindfulness is the art of being present in our own lives. It’s a gentle way of opening up our minds to greater awareness than what we are presently experiencing, and allows us to pause, and take thoughtful consideration before acting.
Incorporating mindfulness into treatment is especially helpful when overcoming addiction of any sort. Studies have shown that mindfulness can actually reshape our brains in positive ways, and can help tame anxiety, provide a greater self-awareness and help us acknowledge and cope with emotions that feel overwhelming and may not be rooted in reality.
Practicing mindfulness is like going to the gym. When you start a new exercise regime, hoping to gain muscle or improve your overall health, there are not immediate results, other than you might feel better immediately following a workout. However, as we practice mindfulness, we build our capacity to be aware of our present moment, just like we build muscle or lose weight at the gym, we notice a change over a longer period of time.
Mindfulness in recovery is critical to the success of long term sobriety in that when we practice it consistently, we are able to pause and not react to life’s ever-changing circumstances, and instead we learn to respond in new ways that are more supportive of our long term recovery process.
It can be a little intimidating to practice mindfulness, if you haven’t before and don’t know where to start. This is why, here at Collective Recovery, we have provided our top few mindfulness tips in order to get you started.
When practicing mindfulness, it’s important to start small, yet be consistent with one of these practices. Those in recovery who practice some form of mindfulness each day, have a much better chance of not ever picking up a drink or drug again.
Here are our top mindfulness tips and HOW you can start practicing mindfulness today:
- Focus on your breath. This is the easiest, and one of the most effective ways to practice mindfulness. Your breath is ever-present, and ALWAYS available to you. You can choose to focus on your breath each time you feel yourself getting upset, or you can choose to take a moment each day (typically morning) to set a time for a few minutes, close your eyes, and count your breath. Notice the sensation of the air entering your lungs, and leaving your lungs. Notice how your body starts to ease and soften as you take each breath in and out. Focusing on our breath allows us to return to the present moment and recognize everything is okay right here and now.
- Practice gratitude. Gratitude has been known to completely shift the lives of those in long term recovery. Oftentimes, when first getting sober, mentors will suggest writing a daily gratitude list, and for good reason. Gratitude is one of the most overlooked tools we have in long term recovery. It doesn’t cost any money to be grateful and the benefits of practicing gratitude are exponential. According to studies, writing a daily gratitude list not only helps with physical health, but dramatically improves our emotional and spiritual health as well, which are key factors in living a well-rounded, full life clean and sober. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and overall well being. Gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. In order to practice gratitude, simply write a list each day of 5-10 things you are truly grateful for. This list could start out with simple things like “health, family, recovery”.
- Notice surroundings by being present. Most humans live their entire life up in their heads, instead of in actual reality. This is no different for the recovering addict or alcoholic. The negative chatter upstairs can be more than enough to push us over the edge and want to reach for something to ease our discomfort from our negative thoughts. We can pause these thoughts by taking a few moments to notice our surroundings by the 5…4…3…2…1… Grounded method! This exercise is simple. Close your eyes, take a big deep breath and notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you an taste. By noticing your surroundings you can return to be mindful of reality, instead of buying into the negative thoughts that will always be there.
- Forgiveness of self and others. Let’s face it, every single person has been presented with difficult life challenges that cause us to hold on to resentment towards ourselves and others. In recovery, forgiveness is not an option. We inevitably find that if we cannot find a way to forgive, we will face a moment where we will want to pick up that first drink or drug to ease our pain of the past. Letting go of hard feelings is one of the most important mindfulness skills we can learn in recovery. If we want to sustain long term recovery and our relationships we built, we must learn to let go of the past hurts. Forgiveness allows us to reframe our experience to find the gift in any situation. Forgiveness is a process where we choose, in each moment, to let go of the past. It is not an overnight process, but one that can take weeks, months or even years to fully let go of hurt. You can practice forgiveness by writing a letter to the person you feel harmed you and choosing to read it to a third party, preferably a therapist or licensed substance abuse counselor. We do not advocate writing a forgiveness letter and sending it to the person who you feel harmed you but instead process your emotion safely with someone who is emotionally unattached to the situation.
There are many other tools for mindfulness, but here at Collective Recovery, these are a few we feel are of the utmost importance to start practicing. Those of us who have suffered with addiction, have found that these mindfulness practices were key to our staying sober in long term recovery. Mindfulness requires a willingness to take small, yet effective actions that guide us back to reality and out of our thoughts.
We hope this blog post helped you. If you or a loved one is suffering with addiction, please contact us at www.collectiverecoverycenter.com or 1-866-UTAH-HOPE for a free, no obligation, benefits review.
We are here to help!