Staying Calm with Self-Care Is it a heart attack? Is it a stroke? Am I dying, like really dying? Anyone who’s ever had a full on, terrifying, ER inducing anxiety attack knows the feeling and knows it well. It’s not forgettable and not explainable to anyone who’s never had one. While most people with anxiety don’t suffer panic attacks, anxiety itself can still overwhelm us with feelings of fear and loathing. Simply put, anxiety is a feeling of excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason. It can lead to shortness of breath, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, ruminating thoughts, shallow breathing, and shaking. For those of us in addiction and recovery, anxiety comes with the territory. Withdrawal and craving induce anxiety, which lead us to drink or use, which lead us to withdrawal and craving, which lead us to drink or use. It’s that brutal, vicious cycle that we know so well. Beyond the stresses of recovery, there are the stresses of everyday life. How we handle them will dictate just how much we allow anxiety to take hold. After all, trouble is often just around the corner, waiting to attack at the most inopportune time. We can’t allow ourselves to fall into the endless cycle of anxiety and chaos. Without proper self-care, burnout will likely be the result. It’s important that we make a plan for the next time we are feeling anxious. Write out your anxiety plan and try new things if you’re not sure what works for you. Here are some suggestions for the next time you feel your anxiety rising: Take a Walk This is a go-to for many people because it can be a quick way to get in some exercise and clear your head. Sunshine can boost your vitamin D, making you feel happier and more at peace. Taking a walk is a flexible way to get out of your current environment and get into a more peaceful headspace. Have a lunch break? How about a quick walk around the block on your lunch break? It doesn’t have to be long; often just removing ourselves from our current stressful environment for a few minutes can help us re approach the situation with more positivity and drive. Make a Gratitude List In the midst of a stressful situation, like a difficult boss or a family fight, it’s hard to remember the things we have. We can get sucked into a vacuum and unable to see the bigger picture. Try writing down a few things you are grateful for. Do you have a home? How about a good friend or someone that loves you? Are you thankful for your sobriety? Journal Again, it can be a long or short activity. Make a bullet point list of all the things that are causing you to feel anxious. Jot down a to-do list on your phone and cross off the items you complete. Set short term goals that are achievable and measurable. Write out what your day was like, and then look back at previous entries to find themes, things you are grateful for, and ways you have grown. Call a Friend Find someone you can call and share what’s going on. Many times having someone listen and ask questions can be helpful when...read more
BUT IT TASTES SO GOOD! For many of us in recovery, our addictive brains are still trying to find something to get hooked on. And for many of us, that something comes in the form of ice cream, candy, donuts and any number of other foods we may not even realize contain the plump inducing powder. Scientists are finding that sugar stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as—wait for it—cocaine or heroin! Just like those hard-core drugs, getting off sugar can lead to withdrawal and cravings, and may require an actual detox process. There really are some withdrawal symptoms related to sugar detox, including moodiness, anxiety, and fatigue. Sometimes so-called “sugar dreams” may come into the picture involving visions of Cinnabons floating in rivers of caramel alongside giant mountains of Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey. Well, maybe not. But still. Hooked on the Taste If you had any doubts about the ability of sugar to wreak havoc on your tastebuds, consider one study where people were asked to cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners for two weeks. As a result, their tolerance for that sweet taste completely changed. A whopping 95 percent of subjects reported that the foods and drinks they used to consume now tasted “sweeter.” Over half reported that the intense cravings stopped after two to three days, and 87 percent no longer felt withdrawal effects after six days. Four ways to Fight Your Sugar Addiction Fruit not Sweets. Fruit contains fructose, which is metabolized differently than gummi bears, but is still yummy. Be careful to restrict your intake to a few servings a day, though. Too much fruit, like grapes and cherries, have lots of sugar that can bust your belly. Forget Artificial Sweeteners. Although diet soda or sugar-free gum has been known to help many dieters get through a rough patch, aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, and even stevia can actually make you desire sweet food by changing your palate. Increased consumption of sweeteners can actually cause weight gain. Clean House. That means getting rid of any sugary temptations including the kids’ Halloween candy we’ve been swiping. Remember getting rid of any and all alcohol and drugs in the house, garage, and attic? Same here. Manage the Magnesium. For chocolate lovers, the craving can rise to a whole new level, particularly for those who have deficiencies of the mineral magnesium. Chocolate craving can be crazy, but if a magnesium shortage is part of the problem, head off the cravings by eating plenty of magnesium-rich dark leafy greens, tofu, legumes and nuts instead of the chocolate. For some of us, it comes as a surprise that we can find ourselves in the throes of another addiction after working so hard to get out from under the last one. Sugar is a real deal and can cause weight gain, dental problems, and diabetes. Like other addictions, this one too can be managed and conquered using some of the same techniques we used before. Have you found that toolbox full of coping skills? Sweet! From your friends at www.commonbondrehabcenter.com Santa Clarita, CA...read more
HERE ARE SOME TIPS Stay focused on your recovery. Don’t try to concentrate on another major goal while you’re coming back from a relapse. You need time to get yourself together, time to get stronger. Make sure you recognize your incremental achievements. Reward for achieving a goal of one week of sobriety, or one month without gambling, for example, is a great way of recognizing your achievements and spurring you on to your next goal. Get support and help often. Keep in close contact with those who are most helpful to you. This may be your family members, close friends or co-workers. It should definitely include your 12 step group sponsor and other group members with whom you share similarities or friendship. Change your routine. Switch the way you drive to work, the order in which you do your exercises, the variety of cuisines you eat or prepare. This keeps things from getting stale and creates an aura of excitement, of something different, something new each day to look forward to. Don’t see your relapse as failure. Never give up on your goal of recovery. Relapse is a brief return to addictive behavior. It doesn’t mean that you’re destined to fail if you’ve had a relapse. You may need to go back into treatment and/or intensive counseling so you can get back on the road to recovery. Get immediate support. Turn towards a person or group that you trust to get the help you need. Fight impulses. Make yourself wait at least 2 hours before acting on a craving or urge. This is often long enough for the urge/craving to dissipate. Develop coping strategies. When you identify or find behaviors that are helpful in curing cravings/urges, modify these to incorporate into new behaviors that can help in other stressful situations. Nothing succeeds like success. If it worked before, make use of it again — and then some. Focus on the future. Always have new goals to strive for. Look toward the future, the way you want your life to be a year, five years, even 10 years down the road. Make plans that you can put into motion to achieve those goals. Remember, the rest of your life begins with the steps you take today. Your recovery begins now. From your friends at www.commonbondrehabcenter.com Santa Clarita,...read more
Common Bond Rehab Center is now offering an Aftercare Program for those who have completed our Intensive Outpatient treatment program, but want to further their recovery. It’s a lifetime thing! From your friends at www.commonbondrehabcenter.com Santa Clarita, CA.read more
FRUSTRATION AND RECOVERY A feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting in unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems. Addiction can be frustrating for all involved. When the addiction finally gives way to sobriety and recovery, we sometimes think all will be rainbows and unicorns. We know how hard it is to quit drinking and drugging, but in many regards, it is every bit as difficult, if not more so, to stay quit. That’s where the frustration comes in and sometimes it beats us down, leading possibly to relapse or worse. Here’s how to say no to frustration. Have a Plan Making a plan of what we are going to do and when and how we are going to do it each day, is a valuable tool. Without structure, we can slip into boredom, old habits and inactivity, all of which can lead to frustration and relapse. Remain Flexible We should never cast in stone our plans, however. If you feel like you have to rigidly adhere to the plan you’ve created, and life interferes, frustration may arrive. Set Reasonable Expectations What most newcomers to recovery find is that it takes a period of time for this to happen and that time is different for everybody. Try Not to Take Things So Seriously Bad things happened. Maybe some very bad things happened. Amends are needed, apologies necessary. But while we do need to remember that rock bottom that got us here so we don’t return, there is no need to dwell. We are sober. That is a blessing and worth smiling about. Learn From Your Mistakes While it can be temporarily upsetting – indeed, frustrating – to make mistakes, if you can glean something positive from the experience, you are adding to your recovery toolkit.. Keep a Positive Attitude In many respects, attitude is everything. When it comes to how we live our lives in recovery, attitude can literally make the difference between making significant progress toward goals and giving up on them Be With Others When you are in recovery, it is helpful to be in the company of others who know what kinds of frustrations you are experiencing and, even more important, how they were able to overcome such frustration and get back to working on their goals? Remember the Good You Have Accomplished From time to time, looking over what you have accomplished thus far can be a real eye-opener. Everyone needs something concrete to point to in the way of successes, if nothing else, to give them motivation and inspiration to continue. Try Again In the end, how you manage your frustration that tends to get in the way of your recovery goals will be a personal and unique approach. The only way to be successful in achieving what you desire is to continue to work at it – even if this means trying again and again. From your friends at www.commonbondrehabcenter.com and www.just4usgirls.net Santa Clarita,...read more
FIVE REASONS TO STAY IN SHAPE DURING RECOVERY It is fulfilling. For those in recovery, it is often a struggle to find something rewarding that can fill the hole left by giving up drugs and alcohol. Walking away from an addiction means freeing up a lot of time in your life, and for many this can be one of the most difficult parts of early sobriety. By introducing some sort of physical activity into your life, you are replacing an unhealthy habit with a healthy one. Though getting out and moving your body may not come naturally in early sobriety, more often than not you’ll be glad you did it. It feels good to fill time with an activity that benefits you physically and mentally rather than one that is harmful. It boosts your serotonin levels. Many people who struggle with addiction also struggle with depression. For them, using drugs or alcohol may have been a coping mechanism. In sobriety it can be difficult to figure out how to confront depression when you can’t use a substance to self-medicate. Though working out is not a cure for depression, it has been shown to increase the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that is responsible for regulating mood, among other things. If the level is too low, the result can be depression. So, when the amount of serotonin is increased, mood will also be elevated. If you are having a difficult day and feeling depressed, try going for a simple walk or a run and pay attention to how you feel afterwards. Chances are you’ll feel at least a little more centered and hopeful. It is often a great outlet.It’s no secret that sobriety isn’t easy. There are many emotions involved in getting sober, and drinking to cope with those emotions is no longer an option. Instead, you have to find a new outlet, a healthy one. For some this may be listening to music, or writing, or reading. The list goes on. But exercise can also be great because it allows you to push your body to its limits and take out your frustration or confusion in a healthy manner that benefits you. There is something so refreshing about being able to walk into the gym after a difficult day and just focus on moving your body and overcoming your mental barriers. It often puts the rest of your life in perspective. It can help you gain back your confidence. When you get sober, there can be a lot of shame and guilt present in your life. You may also feel down on yourself if you’ve let yourself go physically while in active addiction. I know these were both the case for me. And while getting sober can do wonders for your confidence on its own, adding physical activity to your daily routine brings that to a whole other level. There is so much satisfaction and reward in seeing your body change in a positive way because of the work you’ve put in. Channeling your energy into something positive and seeing changes as a result increases confidence in yourself and your abilities, in terms of physical activity and in recovery. It opens the doors to create connections.In recovery, especially early recovery, it’s not unusual to feel lonely....read more
Without a doubt, getting clean and sober is hard work. Just admitting you have a problem is hard enough. But taking those next steps—the going to rehab, the fighting the cravings and withdrawal, the dealing with family and friends and the messes that need to be cleaned up—-are all major challenges too. And they can pile up all at once when we are at our most vulnerable. Part of recovery is recognizing and steering clear of certain emotions and feelings that will surely creep up and try to knock us right back into relapse. STRESS Whether it’s about work, money woes, relationship issues, or legal troubles, we all have times when we experience stress and need to work harder to maintain our recovery. Being sober and in recovery can be so full of awesome, but the stress of our daily lives will still be there. Stress can be overwhelming and it is one of the biggest reasons we might say “ah, F*** it” and head for the vodka aisle or nearest corner for supply. Learning to manage our stress in productive ways can guard it from causing us to head back out. You’ve heard all this before maybe, but there is great wisdom in using some of these simple means of stress-reduction: Exercising regularly. Yes, a brisk walk of the dog counts as does walking to your meeting. It can’t be that far, can it? Sleeping well is crucial, but hard for many. Are ALL lights off and the TV? Eating a healthy diet means trading mind deadening foods loaded with sugar and fats, etc. for stuff that’s not. Would it kill you to carry some carrots as you walk to your meeting? And yes, meditation works. There are dozens of meditations online. Try one. As always, pick up the phone. When stress starts becoming a potential trigger reach out to friend, family, lover, sponsor. That’s what they’re there for. BEING BEAT Being tired and cranky leaves us feeling emotional and more susceptible to a relapse. When we’re tired, we become like bitchy little kids—snappy, irritable and unreasonable. This is the perfect set of emotions that can lead to us blowing our serenity and reaching for our old coping strategies. Those involved drinking and using, in case you forgot, and they didn’t work, in case you forgot. This is why the importance of getting a regular night’s sleep cannot be overemphasized. Maintaining our equilibrium and functioning in a calm and thoughtful manner is pivotal when it comes to staying sober. If you find it difficult to sleep, try breathing exercises, a hot bath or a warm, milky drink before bed. If nothing seems to help, speak to your doctor. BOREDOM It’s one of the most common feelings that can lead to a relapse in early recovery. Once we are over the “pink cloud” of our initial achievement, we often struggle to find activities that fill the huge amount of time we used drinking and using. Now that we are no longer doing that, the amount of drama in our lives is vastly reduced. This is when boredom can set in. Finding new activities that don’t involve the old friends, the old corners and the old bars is super important. This can be anything, including sports, exercise, reading, a new hobby, binge...read more
Common Bond Rehab Center of Santa Clarita, CA wants to give back to our community by helping two people in need, get scholarships for our intensive outpatient addiction treatment program. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse, send us your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. You must be a resident of Santa Clarita and have no access to insurance. You must remain sober during your treatment, for your own benefit, and as part of our program. As part of the scholarship program, we would like you to share your experience, strength and hope with us. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to help someone who can’t afford treatment . Common Bond will not select the recipients of the scholarships. The selection will be made by an outside party. We intend to announce the recipients of these opportunities for cost-free treatment on June 10th. We will continue to do this as long as we are around. If you or someone you know is interested in applying for one of these scholarships or has more questions, please email email@example.com or call us at 661-678-0575. From your friends at www.commonbondrehabcenter.com and...read more
STAY AWAY, I HAVE ENOUGH PROBLEMS!
CERTAIN PEOPLE TO AVOID IN RECOVERY
1. The Instigator
Remember the little brother or sister whose primary function was to annoy you? They called you names, jabbed you in the ribs for no apparent reason and laughed maniacally as you chased them about in a homicidal rage. Yeah, you know the type. The instigator. These people find sheer delight in getting a reaction out of others. They laugh when you are mad and many times, it seems they just don’t know when to stop. If you come across an instigator, do your best to keep your distance. Don’t let them take jabs at your sobriety.read more
RECOVERY AND STRESS
AND I THOUGHT ADDICTION WAS STRESSFUL
Family and relationship conflicts are among the chief causes of stress for all people, along with financial problems, job concerns, health troubles and other issues. These are especially pronounced for those of us recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Stressors like these are extremely dangerous for those of us trying to stay clean and sober. Studies indicate that stress is the number one cause of relapse among drug and alcohol abusers. Staying sober can be very stressful. Being the loved one of someone in addiction or recovering from addiction can also be very stress inducing. For the newly sober, in particular, the more the stress, the more the desire for escape, oftentimes back to drugs and alcohol.
If we can reduce our stress, we can reduce our chances of relapse. To do so, we have to know the signs of stress: headaches, muscle tension, dry mouth, upset stomach, loss of appetite, too much appetite, sleep problems, fatigue, getting colds, can’t concentrate, memory problems, jitters, irritability, short temper, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, chest pains.
Stress is inevitable. But there are things we can do to defuse these daily stressors before they can get the best of us. The most effective stress management often comes from making healthy lifestyle changes.