When you give up alcohol or drugs, you may experience a rollercoaster of emotions, especially in the early months of recovery. You may experience extreme anger, sadness or anxiety. Worst of all, your emotions may become extremely turbulent without warning. Since you have spent so much time and effort running from your feelings, it’s probably been a long time since you have had to experience such volatile emotions. You may feel that you have never had such deep, intense emotions. You may have mood swings, crying jags or feelings of panic. How do you bring these turbulent emotions under control?
Meetings and More Meetings
When you go to meetings, there are several benefits. Just being in the same room with other people who truly understand what you’re going through can make you feel a little calmer. By surrounding yourself with other people in recovery, you give yourself the opportunity to hear something that you need to hear. You may hear just the right slogan or suggestion simply by showing up. The more meetings you attend, the more people you can meet. You will get perspectives from a variety of different people. Going to more meetings may help you feel that you really do belong, which may help you to feel calmer and more balanced. At meetings, you have the opportunity to share what you are experiencing and to hear from others who have had similar experiences. Some may have suggestions that will be helpful to you. You may find that just talking about what you are feeling makes you calmer.
Benefits of Exercise
If you have been abusing drugs and alcohol for several months or years, chances are you have been neglecting your physical health. Stormy emotions often settle down when you put your energy into physical activity. Physical exercise is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your mental well-being. It can improve your mood, help you sleep better and help to ease stress and anxiety. It may also give you more energy and improve your memory. Add some physical activity to your daily routine. Get in the habit of going for a walk or a bike ride. If you enjoy swimming, the steady rhythm of moving through the water can steady unsettled emotions.
Mindfulness meditation is a technique that may help with the emotional rollercoaster of early sobriety. Using this tool, you can improve your awareness of feelings and thoughts in the present moment and learn to become less reactive to your experiences. The practice of mindfulness can improve your ability to manage stress. You can learn to focus exclusively on what is going on at this moment in time, which means you no longer dwell on things you may have done in the past that you can’t do anything about and you don’t worry needlessly about the future. It can help you break the habit of negative thought patterns. This practice helps to remind you that emotional turbulence will pass. When you get in the habit of reminding yourself that intense feelings are temporary, it’s easier to manage them. All you have to get through is this one day, and when you’re feeling especially emotional, take it a minute at a time.
When You Can’t Control Anxiety or Depression
Emotional turbulence in early sobriety is common. For most people, extremely volatile emotions become less intense with time and with meetings, exercise and mindfulness meditation. As you gain experience in living sober, you will get better at remaining calm and taking life as it comes. But for some people, emotional extremes could signal a deeper problem. If you continue to experience extreme feelings of anxiety or depression that you can’t bring under control, talk to your doctor or to a counselor who specializes in addiction recovery. It’s important to be able to calm turbulent emotions to avoid the urge to self-medicate. For most people, learning to calm stormy emotions is a matter of practice. As you gain new coping skills, build a support network and develop healthier habits, you will gradually get better at taming erratic emotions.