Addiction recovery can be a stressful time for anyone. If you’re not in the right frame of mind, it can be difficult to find the strength or motivation. The daily stresses of modern life can all chip away, reducing your willpower to overcome addiction. Even simple things such as getting too many emails, forgetting what you’re supposed to be doing today, or tiredness caused by lack of sleep.
It’s important to remember that stress comes in many forms; in fact we may not even realize that we are stressed.
When you’re pre-occupied by work, family, health concerns or even the task of overcoming your addiction, you may not realize you’re constantly carrying tension in your shoulders, in your neck or in your head. You may not consider that you’re not as happy as you could be, and that things are getting you down.
Taking the time (however small), to work on calming your mind can help you to recognize your stressors, and better cope with them.
So here are 8 steps you can take to a calmer mind in 2019:
- Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness has grown massively in the past few years. A kind of “meditation lite”, it involves focusing on the present, such as focusing on your breath, focusing on the sounds around you or the really tuning in to the food you eat. There are 100s of mindfulness activities to choose from, some taking as few as 1-10 minutes. There’s no right or wrong activities, just choose whichever works for you.
It’s important to remember that mindfulness practice takes time and not to put pressure on yourself about whether you’re doing it right or not.
Numerous studies show that mindfulness can help to calm people’s mind and enable them to cope better with daily stresses, thoughts and emotions.
A recent British study found that 11 minutes of mindfulness per day significantly reduced alcohol consumption for “at risk” drinkers.
- Look After Your Gut Bacteria
Gut health is another field of research which is moving rapidly. It was not that long ago that scientists made the connection that the gut in essence is the body’s second brain.
There is increasing evidence linking gut bacteria to depression, anxiety, and behavioral responses to addiction. Taking a daily probiotic is one way of maintaining the healthy balance needed for good gut health.
There are dozens of different probiotics on the market, each with different proposed benefits. Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus for example is well researched in helping against anxiety.
- Get More Exercise
There are hundreds of studies linking exercise with improved mood and ability to copy with situations we find difficult. Some people like exercise more than others, but the key thing to remember is that exercise should not be boring. If you don’t enjoy it then it becomes another drain on your resources.
If you don’t like high intensity workouts for instance, you could try Yoga which helps maintain good posture, flexibility and works on core strength. Yoga is also an excellent way of calming the mind in itself.
- Create Goals You Can Achieve
When we set unrealistic goals and don’t achieve them, we get down, lose momentum and get stressed out about the future. Making a habit of setting small but achievable goals is a great way of putting yourself into a calmer more positive frame of mind. Good goals should be SMART:
A goal to go out for a 5 minute walk, within the next two weeks for instance could be an objective which might sound small and insignificant, but it could be a stepping stone onto a bigger goal.
- Turn off Daily Stressors
If it’s causing you stress, doesn’t benefit you and can be removed, take it out of your life.
Technology is a common, constant stressor for most people. Getting constant notifications when you’re trying to relax, or focus on something important is not helpful. If you don’t really need them, switch them off.
Most phones have sophisticated settings to select which apps can and can’t send you push notifications.
- Take a Break
Many of us are so preoccupied with modern life that we forget to switch off, to do something we enjoy or to give our brains a rest. Our brains weren’t designed to be stimulated for most of the day. In fact humans lived for thousands of years at a much slower pace. Make a habit of being in nature, zoning out or doing things you enjoy to give yourself a rest.
- Eat Your Way to a Calmer Mind
What we eat has a huge effect on our emotions and mindset. Consider eating more:
- Oats – Credited with mild sedative properties.
- Dark chocolate – Is a natural mood enhancer, improving serotonin levels and helping to reduce the stress response.
- Complex carbohydrates – Such as whole meal bread, pasta, etc.. provide even energy and a host of B vitamins which promote brain health.
- Eggs – Contain tryptophan which helps to create serotonin (happy hormone).
- Fatty fish – Such as salmon, sardines, mackerel contain high levels of Omega-3 which can help to reduce depression and anxiety levels. Or consider supplementation.
- Switch From Caffeine
Caffeine comes in many forms: tea, coffee, cola etc.. It’s part of a habit for millions of people worldwide, but if you want to be calmer then it may be best to switch away. This is because caffeine is a stimulant. It triggers the release of adrenaline which is associated with the stress (fight or flight) response. You might not feel it, but caffeine can play a background role in keeping our stress-levels elevated and fight against our ability to truly relax.
Many herbal teas such as chamomile and green tea are associated with reduced cortisol levels (stress hormone).
About The Author
Article written by Oliver Neely on behalf of Step up Inn in Connecticut, USA. Step Up Inn is a sober living home for women, designed to provide a safe and calm environment to aid people in their transition from rehab to normal life.