The Potential Damage of Bottled-Up Emotions

The Potential Damage of Bottled-Up Emotions

When you keep your emotions inside, there can be many consequences to your overall health and to your recovery

When you are in recovery it is possible that you often hold your true feelings inside and do not express them with others. Whether you just recently became sober or have been sober for an extended period of time, there will be times when your mind is flooded with different emotions. In some cases, you may have not even processed or recognized the emotions—but that does not mean they are not still right there under the surface. Stress and the emotions it causes within you can be very sneaky. If you do not do something about recognizing your emotions, you may reach a “boiling point” of sorts and find yourself screaming or acting in ways you normally would not. When this happens during recovery, you are more likely to give into a craving to use again. Being stressed emotionally often has the same effect on you as other forms of triggers, such as walking by a bar, seeing someone who is drunk or high, getting paid, getting into an argument with someone or being bored.[1]

What Emotions Are You Really Feeling?

In order to stay healthy, it is important to know how you really feel inside. In order to do this, you must achieve a level of self-awareness. You may want to start to notice when, how, and for what you are using your defenses. Once we become aware that we are avoiding something, we can ask ourselves what emotions might be there. Slowing down really helps when it comes to figuring out what we feel. Slowing down so you can begin to notice what’s happening in your body helps bring attention to your emotional world.[2]

Mental Health Is Closely Related to Physical Health

Your body responds to the ways you think, feel and act. So when you are stressed, your body tries to tell you that something is not right. This could appear as back pain, chest pain, fatigue, insomnia, upset stomach, weight fluctuation, headaches and more. Poor mental health is also known to weaken the immune system, which leaves you more susceptible to getting sick. When you feel lousy—in some cases—this may cause you to slip back into a self-medicating through substances, such as Xanax abuse.

An Obsession Can Stop You from Processing Emotions

An obsession is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind. It can even be a good thing, such as exercise. If you fixate on any one area of your life too much, it can lead to negative consequences. You may or may not know you are obsessed. This is why it is so important to have others in your life that you can talk to and also that can hold you accountable. Good friends will let you know when they are concerned. As a recovering addict, you know that you have an addictive personality. It is more likely that you will participate in additive behavior. Instead of exercising in a healthy way, you are more likely to overdo it and even fixate on it. As uncomfortable as an obsession can be, it keeps at bay underlying emotions, such as grief, loneliness, anger, emptiness, shame and fear.[3]

Don’t Hesitate to Get the Support You Need

When you need help, please go to supportive friends or family members and talk with them. Spend time with them. Having support and accountability around you can make all the difference. Share how you really feel inside and talk about what challenges you are facing. If this feels awkward or forced at first, that’s okay. It will become much more natural with time. Pick up the phone and take the necessary steps. This can be the difference between continued sobriety and a painful relapse.

Participate in Relaxing Activities

When you participate in an activity you enjoy, your levels of stress will decrease. A simple activity such as exercising or listening to music or reading can make you feel more relaxed. Be intentional about the activity you choose to do. Do not put it off. One of the key symptoms of depression is when an individual has a loss of interest or pleasure in their daily activities. Because of this, even if you don’t feel like doing an activity, in order to stay sober it is likely wise to do it anyways.

Get Professional Help

If you have felt stressed or been holding in your emotions for an extended period of time it is very likely that now is the time to seek professional help. You can also go to a therapist where you can talk about your problems. In many cases, when you open up about the struggles and/or challenges you are facing, you can find some clarity from the additional perspective of a therapist. It makes you feel better.

If would like to talk to someone right now, call our 24-hour helpline. Our counselors have been professionally trained to help you in your recovery from Xanax addiction. Stress and emotions can pile up inside if you do not sort them out and this will only make things more challenging for you. There is no obligation on your part—all that will be asked of you is basic demographic information and what specifically prompted the phone call.


[1] 5 Tips for Managing Triggers during Addiction Recovery. Green, Kate.

[2] The Brilliant Way We Avoid Our Emotions. Hendel, Hillary.

[3] Obsessions and Addiction. Lancer, Darlene.

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