Practicing Mindfulness in Recovery
Essentially, mindfulness is the opposite of addiction. Mindfulness relies on a focused effort to limit the negative impact of painful feelings, while addiction simply offers a temporary escape from your problems. Mindfulness promotes accountability and personal responsibility, while addiction leads to denial and dishonesty.
10 Mindfulness Tips
Focusing on the present moment without worrying about past mistakes or what the future holds is an excellent way to lower stress, reduce anxiety, and ease depression. However, it takes time to develop this skill. We are all so used to multi-tasking and trying to be as efficient as possible that mindfulness requires a dramatic change in our way of life.
As with any new skill, cultivating mindfulness becomes easier the more you practice. Here are some tips to help you become more mindful as you go about your daily routine:
- Focus on your breathing. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, bring your attention back to your breath. Breathe in and out, paying attention to the rise and fall of your belly and how your lungs feel as they expand. (If you’re struggling with cravings, urge surfing is a mindfulness technique that focuses on your breath and bodily sensations to help you regain control. Learn more on the Portland Psychotherapy website.)
- Sit quietly. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to fill every minute of the day with activity. Sometimes, sitting quietly with your thoughts is just what you need. Being alone is not something to be feared.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Making a conscious effort to notice your blessings, whether it’s a fresh cup of coffee in the morning or a friend who made time to cheer you up when you were feeling blue, will give you a new perspective on your recovery challenges.
- When you are eating, pay close attention to each bite. Notice the taste, color, and texture of your food. Pay attention to your enjoyment of the meal and how it’s nourishing your body. Stop when you feel full. People in recovery often have nutritional deficiencies related to past substance abuse, so this mindfulness exercise can also help you develop a healthier relationship with food.
- When you’re talking with others, listen without making judgments. Let the person who is speaking take control of their own story. When you make assumptions about another person’s actions or intentions, you’re preventing yourself from fully engaging in the relationship.
- Pay attention to mundane chores. Instead of zoning out when you’re engaged in routine tasks such as washing the dishes or folding your laundry, take the time to pay attention to what you’re doing. Bringing awareness to the current moment, even when it’s just a simple chore, can improve your overall mental health.
- Spend time in nature. Notice how the sun feels on your skin, the smell of a pretty flower, or the sound of birds chirping in the distance. Appreciating natural beauty is mindfulness at its best.
- Play with a pet. Animals don’t worry about anything other than what they’re doing in the present moment. Playing fetch with your dog or petting your cat is a great way to cultivate mindfulness in your own life. If you don’t have your own pet, consider volunteering at a nearby animal shelter.
- Practice yoga. A regular practice yoga practice strengthens the body while promoting mindfulness. You can sign up for a guided class or practice at home using online tutorials.
- Consider a digital detox. If you’re constantly checking your phone for texts and social media updates, your attention is never focused on the present moment. Make a consistent effort to regularly disconnect, even if it’s just for the evening.
Taking Control of Your Recovery Journey
There’s always hope for recovery, but this doesn’t mean the journey will be easy. However, mindfulness can help by building your resilience—giving you the confidence and courage you need to face any challenges you may encounter. (Greater Good discusses the connection between mindfulness and resilience in greater detail.)
Waypoint Recovery Center’s South Carolina drug and alcohol addiction treatment program helps men and women struggling with substance use disorders build the foundation for lasting sobriety. This includes viewing addiction as a disease of the mind, body, and spirit while incorporating a holistic approach to recovery that promotes mindfulness and other elements of a wellness-focused lifestyle. If you’re ready to take the first step toward a sober future, we can help.