A significant component of managing recovery is taking time to listen and sit with your internal voices and feelings. The practice of mindfulness contributes to your serenity, health, and overall effectiveness in life and recovery. Therefore, if the distractions of the day feel as though they are pulling you apart and you’re becoming stressed, anxious or depressed, taking time to sit with your thoughts can help you get back in touch with yourself and what matters. Furthermore, if social media devices are your primary outlet, useful apps exist to incorporate mindfulness into your routine and make your time spent on these devices more meaningful. Let’s take a more in-depth look at mindfulness as a practice, how it benefits recovery, and some of the apps that promote mental health by using mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness focuses on being present in one’s life. It is a gentle way of opening your mind to greater awareness and gaining a more genuine, more profound understanding of yourself and the world around you. Studies show that mindfulness activities help reshape the brain positively, improve physical and mental health, and promote overall well-being. Acknowledging difficult emotions rooted in your thoughts and behaviors helps ease anxiety and stress while identifying thoughts and feelings that trigger your impulse to use.
Being present helps you cope with reality as it is, not how you perceive it. Get started by paying attention to ordinary things; the sensation on your taste buds when you eat, how your feet and arms feel when you walk, etc. Remembering to do this takes practice, but it begins to help you notice the things around you and ground you in the present.
Developing this practice can help when you might not be able to leave a situation or have the time to sit and meditate. It is a quick and calming way to bring you away from thinking about the past or anxious thoughts about the future. Being present reminds you of the here and now. You can develop the habit of being present by setting reminders on your phone or calendar to take a minute to think about the things currently happening around you.
Focus on Breathwork
When you’re stressed, it might be easy to get sucked into self-defeating thoughts. Most people take short, shallow breaths that cause the nervous system to feel anxious. However, taking time to breathe correctly releases this feeling of anxiety and calms your nervous system. Therefore, good breathwork exercises help you manage your emotional health in times of stress. Focusing on your breathwork helps return perspective and keeps your recovery on track.
Begin by taking “breathing breaks” during the day. You can utilize the opportunity to do so while on break at work, sitting in traffic, before opening an email, or helping out with the family. Breathwork consists of taking full breaths in and exhaling both strong and slow. Breathwork, even for 30 seconds, helps you focus on where you are. Breathwork is also a significant component during a mindfulness session because it helps regulate the practice’s rhythm and keeps you at a calm breathing pace while sitting with complex thoughts and feelings.
Recognize Your Thoughts as Thoughts
Negative self-talk is destructive to your progress in recovery. Thoughts like “I’m no good” or “everybody is against me” can drain all energy and hope from you. However, mindfulness allows you the opportunity to recognize and challenge these thoughts by getting you to question and evaluate why you think this way and what is occurring around you that might contribute to this thought. Sometimes you might discover your most negative thoughts when the news is on or if you have to encounter a person that is negative for your recovery.
Understanding why you have these thoughts is the first step toward helping you gain a more hopeful perception of the self and what is happening. Taking time to check in with your thoughts, whether in the morning or before bed, will not only help you discover the sources of your anxiety and stress but also help you identify your triggers. Write down what you are feeling during and after these sessions because they will help you prepare, plan, and create goals to help you overcome triggers.
Your past substance use has likely limited your ability to connect with others in meaningful ways. Mindfulness helps with self-compassion and feeling compassion for others. Feeling compassion helps in building healthier relationships. Compassion also has a positive effect on your inner emotions. Using the phrase “just like me” is often used during mindfulness meditation to promote compassion. Remembering this phrase when you interact with others reminds you that you’re not alone and that others also have hopes, fears, and dreams.
You can practice mindfulness both with a therapist and from the comfort of home. Designating time to have a session to sit with your thoughts is essential in your recovery regimen. There are a variety of techniques to explore your thoughts. You can sit and meditate, write them out, or you might find that outdoor exercise allows you the setting to get in touch with your thoughts. You can also incorporate apps to help motivate you to practice mindfulness. Among the top apps are:
- MyLife Meditation
While it is great to motivate yourself to do things that promote self-care, using apps and other techniques such as meditation, exercise, and therapy provide the best opportunity for growth. Remember always to consult a professional to help determine the best approaches for you, including the apps you use.
If you feel stressed, unhealthy, unhappy, and notice that you are not taking time to connect with your thoughts and feelings, then the time to seek help is now. At Choice House, we understand that the road to recovery is life-long, and at times, there will be situations that challenge your recovery. Therefore, we provide conventional and alternative treatments for men to ensure that we meet the individual needs of everyone that seeks help at Choice House. We also meet you wherever you’re at in recovery and are both sensitive and understanding to the complexities of recovery. Whether you are beginning your journey to recovery or continuing your journey, understand that Choice House is here to help. With comfortable spaces and breathtaking views of the Boulder landscape, the men who seek us will never be short of positivity and inspiration. With 24/7 admissions, you can reach out to us at any time. So, start your adventure to recovery today and call Choice House at (720) 577-4422.