Developing healthy coping skills for mental health is essential if you want to stay sober. After all, stress, anxiety, and depression are all triggers that might provoke someone to use drugs or alcohol. People who suffer from addiction usually abuse substances to cope with these emotions in the first place. Once the drugs are removed, the emotions are still there, so people in recovery have to adopt healthier coping mechanisms that support their sobriety.

Early recovery is always full of challenges. When a difficult situation occurs, people have the power to decide how they are going to cope with that. Taking care of your mental health doesn’t mean you won’t get upset or angry from time to time – it simply means that you’re coping with challenges in the right way.

Although one purpose of addiction treatment programs is to teach individuals how to cope with life events, a little reminder never hurt anyone. Here are 5 healthy coping skills that can help protect your recovery.

1. Use Your Support Network

It’s essential to have a sober support network when you’re in recovery. These support networks usually consist of other recovering drug addicts or alcoholics who understand the things you are going through. Addiction is an isolating disease, but one of the keys to a successful recovery is community and fellowship. It’s not easy to go through difficult times alone, but if you have a strong support network, you won’t have to go through anything alone.

Whether you attend a 12-step meeting or pick up the phone to call a friend, one important coping skill in recovery is using your support network to lean on. Your friends can offer you emotional support, guidance, and a compassionate ear. In many cases, simply expressing your feelings is enough to relieve the weight of them, making your support group one of the most important coping tools in your recovery.

2. Practice Mindful Meditation

Meditation is a great coping tool for stress and anxiety. Not only does it reduce stress, but it can help you recollect your thoughts and center yourself in stressful moments. Mindful meditation imparticular focuses on observing thoughts without judgment. This passive observation of thoughts ultimately helps improve decision-making skills – something that’s crucial in recovery.

When you feel triggered or are in a situation where you are thinking about using drugs or alcohol, mindfulness allows you to pause, reflect, and make a healthier decision. Ultimately, mindful meditation is a powerful tool that helps prevent relapse in many different situations. Furthermore, mindful meditation is such a powerful tool that it can actually reduce symptoms of many mental health conditions and help improve self-esteem.[1]

3. Keep a Daily Journal

Similar to expressing your emotions out loud to someone in your support network, journaling to process emotions is another coping skill that can help protect your recovery. Instead of internalizing your emotions or ignoring them, writing them down on paper helps you get them out, release your tensions, and work through whatever it is you’re struggling with.

Not only will putting your thoughts on paper help you work through them more effectively, but it will allow you to reflect on your day and see what you could improve. Journaling is an extremely productive, yet stress relieving, exercise that can be done on a daily basis to strengthen your coping skills and your recovery.

4. Get Some Exercise

Exercise, whether high-intensity workouts or slow walking outdoors, releases feel-good chemicals and hormones in the brain that help boost mood, energy, and overall health. When you get your body moving, you start to release physical tension that stress or anxiety might have built up. In addition, the hormones released combat stress chemicals, therefore, relieving stress.[2]

If you’re looking to de-stress, cope with depression, or simply improve your overall sense of well-being, make sure to set aside some time each day to get active as it is a coping skill that is beneficial to recovery.

5. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

When you don’t get a good night’s rest, your body experiences a build-up of stress hormones, which can lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety. On the other hand, people who struggle with mental illness are more likely to suffer from insomnia and sleep disorders than those who do not.[3] Obviously, sleep and mental health are closely linked, so it’s important to get a good night’s sleep.

To best optimize your sleep for mental health, go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Create a bedtime routine that you follow each night, to help add another level of stability so your body knows when it’s time to wind down and rest.

Learn the Coping Skills You Need for a Successful Recovery

Practicing these healthy coping skills will not only strengthen your recovery, but they will benefit your mental health at well. Like most things in life, learning how to apply coping skills in the correct way takes time and practice. If you don’t feel better overnight, that’s okay. Keep practicing healthy coping skills and results will come in time.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and need a little extra support, our addiction treatment programs focus on treating underlying conditions and applying healthy coping skills that will help people stay sober. To learn more about our treatment options or how we can help you, contact us today.