7 Ways to Make Relaxation a Part of Your Recovery

Headshot of Mandy HazelPracticing relaxation can mean more than deep breathing. Relaxation can help with strong feelings such as stress, anxiety and even anger. There are many different ways to practice relaxation. Some of these should be practiced daily for the best results. Implementing these daily allows for your baseline of emotions to be at a much lower level so whenever you do find yourself in a situation where you start to feel stronger emotions you are more likely to turn to relaxation techniques to calm yourself down.

Self-monitoring or decreasing feelings of strong emotions can be huge in recovery, especially early recovery. Feeling such strong emotions like stress and anxiety are some of the most common triggers people list as reasons for relapsing or returning to using.

Let us explore some ways to make relaxation a part of your way of life:

  1. Deep breathing – This technique may be used more in the moment of needing relief from a strong emotion. One simple deep breathing exercise is to breathe in through your nose while slowly counting to four. Hold your breath for a count of four. Then release the breath slowly out of your mouth to a slow count of four. Do this a few times in a row and you should start to feel the tension leave your body. The best part is, you can do this anywhere you find yourself needing to relax.
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation – This may be an in-the-moment tool as well, or something you use at the end of your day to unwind. One way to practice this is to start at your toes and slowly work your way up your body tensing each muscle, then slowly releasing the tension in each of the muscles as you go. Take it all the way up to your shoulders, even the muscles in your face. As you release the tension, you will likely notice areas that are holding the most tension. Go back over those areas if you need to for some added relief.
  3. Journaling – You may not always feel like you can share with someone all of the feelings you are feeling. This may include cravings, worries, or even successes, so write them down! Get them out; do not keep them bottled up inside of you.
  4. Listening to calming music – Pick a soundtrack that soothes you and make sure it is easily accessible when you need it. No hard rock; pick something calming – think piano. Maybe you need to listen to it on your drive home from work to come down from the emotions of the day. Maybe you listen while getting ready in the morning as a way to start your day. Whenever you need it most, make sure it is ready to go.
  5. Create routine – Routines help keep you from either over or under planning. Over planning can result in stress. Under planning can result in boredom. Both are relapse triggers of which to be cautious. Routines and structure are also important to help you reach your daily and life goals.
  6. Exercise regularly – Exercise is a proven way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Take it outside when you can too – that added sunshine is a double win. Exercise releases endorphins and can even help you get into a better sleep pattern.
  7. Laugh – Watch a T.V. show that makes you laugh. Spend time with friends and loved ones who make you laugh. Maybe for you a good book can make you laugh. Whatever it is, find something to do every day that makes you laugh.

These are just a few of the ways you can practice relaxation. Remember building healthy habits takes time. Continue to practice these things until they become part of your everyday life. If you would like more information on how to practice these techniques, a quick internet search can give you lots more tips. Also, know help is only a phone call away; Centerstone can help if substance use or behavioral health counseling would be beneficial for you and learning how to relax and better handle your emotions.

Mandy Hazel, BS CADC, has been a counselor and case manager at Centerstone’s Fellowship House campus since July 2014. Mandy works with patients in the outpatient, detox, residential and family programs and has also served as a preventionist.

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