Mindfulness is a mental exercise or state of mind in which you focus on where you are, what you’re doing, and what you feel without being reactive or allowing yourself to become overwhelmed. Simply put, it’s being present in the moment rather than letting your thoughts race or ruminate on the past or future.
Mindfulness can be highly important in preventing relapse and helping individuals who struggle with addiction stick to their recovery plans. Let’s look at how you can incorporate mindfulness-based relapse prevention techniques in your journey.
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The Role of Mindfulness in Recovery
Mindfulness can be highly beneficial for your recovery1 and overall daily wellness when practiced regularly.
That’s because mindfulness:
- promotes self-awareness of your actions, thoughts, and potential relapse triggers.
- helps you regulate your emotions. For many individuals who struggle with addiction, strong emotions can be dangerous.
- reduces stress. Less stress means you are less likely to face potential relapse triggers.
Mindfulness is vital for cultivating and maintaining healthy coping mechanisms, such as adopting exercise habits, avoiding risky situations, and more. For example, mindfulness enables you to recognize when you might enter a potentially risky situation, then make an excuse and leave a social area where drugs and alcohol are consumed.
Furthermore, mindfulness can help you break the automatic and/or reactive patterns that may lead you to consume drugs and alcohol. Over time, you’ll have greater control over your thoughts and behaviors and take pride in your recovery journey.
Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention
Many recovery clinics and rehab centers incorporate mindfulness-based relapse prevention techniques into addiction treatment programs. They might teach recovering clients various techniques or methods, such as:
- Meditation teaches you to calm your thoughts and allow potentially disturbing thoughts to pass without reacting to them.
- Breath awareness, which grounds you and the body and helps you control the physical stress symptoms you may feel.
- Body scans require you to examine how each part of your body feels progressively. As you become more aware of your body, you’ll have greater control over your responses to stimuli.
Several studies indicate that mindfulness-based relapse prevention techniques can be highly effective in addiction treatment and recovery.
Practical Tips for Incorporating Mindfulness into Daily Life
There are many easy, accessible ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. According to Harvard University,2 here are three techniques you can apply starting today:
- Practice simple meditation by sitting in a straight-backed chair or on the floor. Then, focus on an aspect of your breathing to narrow your concentration. Allow your thoughts to wander without restricting them, and if your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Meditating for 5 to 10 minutes is an excellent way to calm down or start or end your day.
- Practice open awareness to stay present and participate in life’s most memorable moments. For example, you can bring your attention to the sensations you feel in your body or notice how you feel about a present situation or event. Whatever you are doing, whether washing the dishes or enjoying a movie, carry on with your task deliberately. Pay close attention to everything you can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste.
- Practice body awareness by focusing your thoughts on your emotions, the sights and sounds you absorb, or other sensations. In this way, you’ll become more aware of what you feel and when you feel it and understand that your body is just a vehicle for your spirit. If you feel an urge or craving, acknowledge the desire and remember that it will eventually pass. If you notice how your body feels when the craving begins, you’ll have greater control over it.
The Power of Awareness in Relapse Prevention
That last technique leads to an overall truth about mindfulness in addiction recovery. Increased self-awareness will help you identify the unique triggers and cravings you may experience frequently. This, in turn, will give you greater control over your life and minimize the likelihood of relapsing in the future.
For example, you might notice that going to a specific place causes you to crave a drink or a dangerous substance. But if you are mindful of the moment and see this, you’ll arrest any reactive desires and avoid making a wrong decision.
This benefit extends to all other stressful situations or challenging emotions you may experience in the future. If you are in a stressful situation, such as someone confronting you at work, take a deep breath and ground yourself in the moment. Then, you can take conscious, deliberate action regarding the stressful event and avoid making a reactive, potentially harmful decision.
Get in Touch with Addiction Treatment Professionals Today
In the end, you can harness the power of your self-awareness and take advantage of mindfulness-based relapse prevention techniques to ensure your long-term sobriety. But if you don’t know these techniques, knowledgeable professionals can teach them immediately.
Clear Life Recovery is committed to providing our patients with holistic, helpful techniques and recovery methods that give them the tools they need to avoid relapsing. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you.