What to Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed at times in your recovery. Whether you just recently became sober or have been sober for an extended period of time, there will be times when you will find yourself flooded with different emotions. The reason for this is really simple—you are human and life is stressful. Even if you have a normal exercise routine, life happens. You may get sick or find yourself with a flat tire or have a fight with a friend or family member. When these things happen, your stress level rises.  It is during these stressful moments that you are most likely to make a poor decision regarding your sobriety. Assuming you have been sober for less than a year, statistics show around 36 percent are successful and stay sober. This is not to say you will relapse—but many do. Choose to be the one who stays sober by taking these intentional steps when you feel overwhelmed:

Stop and Admit You Are Overwhelmed

Be intentional and self-aware by just admitting you are facing a craving or that you are very stressed. An acronym which is often used in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous is the word HALT, which stands for Hungry Angry Lonely Tired. When in recovery, you may overlook having a balanced diet that is needed for nourishment. When you have a proper diet, your body will feel better. In some cases, you may find that when you eat a good, healthy meal you feel much better. If you are angry about something, this can amplify stress if you do not get it off your chest. Loneliness can often lead to depression, which makes it much harder to exercise good self-control. If you feel lonely, turn to your support network so you can get the help you need. Lastly, being tired can be difficult as you may not know you are tired until you are very tired—possibly even exhausted. By default in recovery—especially in the early stages—you are likely very mentally tired. Every time you face temptation to use again also called a trigger, you deplete your mental resources.

Get Support from Friends and Family

What to Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

When you feel overwhelmed, go to a supportive friend or family member and talk with them

When you feel overwhelmed, go to a supportive friend or family member and talk with them. Spend time with them. This level of support and accountability can make all the difference. Tell them how you feel and what challenges you are facing. It is possible that you might feel a little awkward at first, but remember this is why you have a support network. Pick up the phone and take the necessary steps. This can be the difference between sobriety and relapse.

Participate in Relaxing Behavior

When you do something you enjoy or find relaxing, you will reduce your stress levels. You wouldn’t think that just doing something as simple as exercising or listening to some music can make you feel more relaxed and less stress, but it really works. Be intentional about this and do not put it off. One of the key symptoms of depression includes a loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports. So even if you don’t feel like doing an activity you enjoy, in order to stay sober you may have to do it anyways. This is where having a support network is very important. You might want to go to the gym with a friend and have him or her hold you accountable.

Seek Professional Help

If you have felt stressed or overwhelmed for an extended period of time—say more than a week—go to your doctor and tell her about your situation. It is possible you have a cold or the flu. Your diet or sleep habits can play a very important role in your overall health and how you feel. You can also go to a therapist where you can talk about your problems. In many cases, just talking about your problems with a therapist, commonly called psychotherapy or talk therapy, makes you feel better. There are several different approaches used here—but the common thread is that talking about your challenges, struggles and victories is a great way to express how you feel and also to learn more about yourself.

If would like to talk to someone right now about your addiction to Xanax or other drug of abuse, please know you can call our toll-free helpline. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to help you in your recovery. Call now to begin your recovery journey.

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