How to Prevent Relapse (6 Helpful Habits)
If you’re worried about experiencing a relapse while recovering from addiction, you may be interested in ways to prevent relapse and maintain the course on your recovery journey.
In this article, we’re exploring how to prevent relapse and providing six helpful habits to try.
How To Prevent Relapse
You are an overcomer. You have achieved great things and conquered obstacles you thought were the size of Mount Everest. In other words – you have worked hard to get where you are, and the last thing you want to do is risk your recovery and find yourself struggling with a relapse. But when life gets tough, or you feel like you are fighting a losing battle, you may find yourself looking for help. You have learned coping skills in treatment, but it can be scary when the moment becomes your reality.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn and practice natural, positive ways to help you focus during times of struggle. Find a holistic approach that works for you and use it daily. Use it so often that it becomes so second nature to you that you will never find yourself in defeat with your hands in the air. You have come much too far for that, friend.
Here’s how to prevent relapse through six healthy habits.
Meditation brings about focus and a sense of intense calm. Whether you realize it or not, your mind is constantly being stimulated. It is full of emotions, reactions, and various stimuli responses. You may be thinking about what you did yesterday, what your co-worker just said, all the things you must do before the day is over, how you will pay your bills, etc. Sometimes, without realizing it, you can lose your grounding and be overcome with stress, anxiety, and exhaustion which may all lead to bad choices.
Meditation can change all of this.
So, how exactly does one meditate? There is no right or wrong way. Most people have a vision of a person sitting, legs crossed, on the floor with their back straight and making some om noise. That is not exactly how it has to be. The key is to clear your mind and fill your body with peace. Here is a general idea to get you started:
- Find any quiet place and sit still, eyes closed, body relaxed.
- Pay attention to how you feel. Are you anxious? Worried? Tired? Maybe you are happy?
- Take deep breaths in and exhale long and slow. Count them.
If you think about everything under the sun but your meditation, bring your focus back. Stay aware. Focus.
Notice how your body feels and how you feel. Do checks with yourself.
Pencil this in your schedule for just a couple of minutes every day. You will be amazed at how well it can help reduce stress and keep your focus positive.
Physical fitness is important for your mind and your body. Our body is a well-oiled machine, so when one part of it is not working properly, it throws off your entire system! Getting your body moving with exercise instructs your brain to release more endorphins, elating your mood.
Not to mention that when we are stressed, our bodies’ natural reaction leads us straight to the fight or flight scenario. This is a physical reaction by our bodies. If we are lacking in the physically fit department, we may interpret this incorrectly, leading our bodies to react with even more stress and anxiety. In other words, when you are feeling the strain, let it go by pushing yourself physically and get your blood moving.
Being healthy doesn’t just include fitness, but nutrition, as well. Filling our bodies with healthy foods can lead to proper balance and responses. You have heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” Proper nutrition makes you feel good, and feeling good makes you less likely to succumb to relapse.
4. Art Therapy
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to have the skill or great artistic ability to benefit from art therapy. This type of therapy focuses on creating a form of art, such as drawing, clay, painting, or crafts. It promotes a sense of calm by deterring outside distractions and allowing one to focus on the art project.
Art therapy leads to relaxation and stress release. Dedication and practice lead to an increase in self-esteem. This, in turn, allows you to feel more in control of yourself. It is a powerful tool. And, hey, let’s not forget how much fun art class used to be when you were a kid!
Try not to think about needles when you think of acupuncture. Instead, learn about what it is and its great benefits. Stemming from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used to treat pain and various ailments and promote a balanced feeling throughout the body. This is the part that is so important for those in recovery.
Using specific points on the body, the acupuncturist will touch on areas known to reduce stress, reduce depression, reduce cravings, and improve your sleep schedule. It may not work for everyone, but it is something to have in your repertoire of peace-finding skills.
The terms downward facing dog, mountain pose, warrior I, warrior II, cat-cow stretch, and triangle pose may not mean much to you now, but one beginner’s yoga class and you will think you were just taught a foreign language. Well, that and one of the most effective tools for relapse prevention. Yoga helps you find balance and peace, promoting a sense of calm and control.
Yoga is a disciplined form of stretching and strength exercise. And it gives you stamina for long meditation sessions. Anyone can do yoga, even if they don’t feel flexible or have difficulty with it initially. With a little time, dedication, and focus, you will be a pro.
Addiction recovery is a personal experience, making it difficult to know how to prevent relapse definitively. The important thing to remember here is that it’s a journey requiring trial and error.
If you make a mistake or find yourself struggling, try to identify your feelings, triggers, and weaknesses (we all have them). The more you know about yourself, the more prepared you will be to handle difficult situations and stay the course.
And, as always, you’re not alone.
Last medically reviewed October 14, 2022