Learn the Power of Mindfulness for Long Term Sobriety at Changes
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There are tons of different approaches to help you maintain your sobriety and enter into long-term recovery. Mindfulness-based interventions are a great way to maintain greater self-awareness and process difficult feelings that often come up in addiction recovery.
But how can you find and really take advantage of mindfulness in recovery?
Changes Healing Center in Phoenix can help you take the first steps toward sobriety, including some of these mindfulness techniques. If you are ready to conquer your substance abuse, we can help you put healthy coping skills like mindfulness in place.
Reach out to us today to learn more about how we guide you toward a brighter future, and keep reading to learn more about the benefits of mindfulness during the recovery process!
What Exactly is Mindfulness in Recovery All About?
Before diving into the benefits of practicing mindfulness in recovery from addiction, it is important to first look at what exactly mindfulness is. It is not hard to understand, but it can be more difficult to put into practice than you think. Mindfulness is simply the act of being fully in the present moment without judgment of your thoughts and feelings.
Many people are familiar with mindfulness meditation, but that is not the only practice you can benefit from with this skill.
Mindfulness allows you to sit with your feelings and thoughts, no matter what they might be. It is a way to impartially examine how you feel in the moment without feeling compelled to act on those feelings. Having a mindfulness practice gives you more space to not react when difficult emotions come up — and they will come up in your recovery journey.
9 Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery
When you enter into substance abuse treatment, you may want to consider whether your recovery center offers mindfulness practices as part of a robust treatment plan. Here are the benefits of implementing mindfulness exercises in addiction treatment.
1) Reduce Substance Misuse and Cravings
What if you could lessen your impulse to turn to substances when negative emotions surface? First and foremost, you may want to practice mindfulness because it has been proven to reduce substance misuse. It also helps you to curb cravings for substances of all kinds when used as part of a regular and preventive measure.
How does it help you in addiction treatment?
The research indicates that mindfulness practices have an important impact on the brain. Namely, they can alter the cognitive function, affective measures, and psychophysiological responses that often lead to addiction. You can have better emotional regulation and your brain will process rewards differently.
2) More Acceptance of the Present Moment
Addiction recovery is made easier with reduced cravings, but how do you handle day-to-day stressors that would have led to substance use in the past? Mindfulness techniques allow you to accept where you are at any given moment. One study shows that compared to other treatments, mindfulness-based relapse prevention programs increase acceptance.
Not only that, but the same study demonstrates that you can act with greater self-awareness when these practices are put in place.
What would it look like to act with more conscious thought instead of based on feelings? It can lead to great outcomes for your addiction treatment program because you can accept your feelings and even the reduced cravings without feeling compelled to act on them.
3) Improved Self-Esteem
When people come into addiction recovery, they might have low self-esteem because they feel that their lives have become unmanageable with their substance use disorder. The good news is that you can bolster your self-esteem with something as simple as mindfulness techniques.
One study demonstrated that those who were more engaged with mindfulness-based interventions in their everyday life had higher self-esteem than those who did not.
In addition to self-esteem, the same study also proved that mindfulness practices can lead to a greater sense of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the perception that you can control your thoughts, behaviors, and performance on your own. This skill could be especially significant for those who are concerned about addiction relapse.
4) Mindfulness Encourages Compassion and Self-Care
Regularly engaging in mindfulness exercises also has a great impact on your feelings about yourself. In an 11-week study combining yoga with mindfulness practices, participants demonstrated some solid and highly sought-after benefits. They were better able to self-regulate and have more compassion for themselves.
In addition to those excellent benefits, the same study also showed that mindfulness increased empathy and had the potential to reduce stress.
Other studies have replicated these findings with even less time invested. Some ran for only a few weeks and proved that mindfulness encourages compassion even in smaller doses.
5) Improved Well-Being in Clinical Settings
When dealing with addictive disorders, most people feel that their lives have reached a point of being completely unmanageable. Acknowledging this is one of the first steps in the 12-step recovery process. Researchers are proving that there is great potential for patients to have better well-being with inner stillness.
Mindfulness can help you put a stop to negative thoughts and improve your chances of long-term sobriety. While it is a life-long journey, you may have more positive feelings about the future and your potential outcomes when engaged in mindfulness activities.
6) Reduce Stress Levels that Can Lead to Substance Use
Mindfulness and addiction recovery go hand in hand. One of the hardest things for recovering addicts is high stress levels. Fortunately, you can improve your emotional reactivity by using mindfulness-based therapies like conscious breathing. This technique is shown to reduce depression and anxiety, but it can also reduce stress.
Instead of feeling psychological distress, you may start to feel a sense of well-being with mindfulness training. The same study found that mindfulness practices helped self-compassion.
Interestingly, it was found that both short-term and long-term interventions had similar results. This indicates that you may not need lengthy treatment to start improving your mental health. In less than eight weeks, you might have an entirely new outlook on life and have more positive coping skills.
7) A Positive Impact on Physical Health
Mindfulness meditation can be a powerful tool for successful recovery from substance use disorders because it has a clear effect on both mental health and physical health. In a survey of current literature, it was found that a regular mindfulness meditation practice lowered blood pressure which could be related to its reduction in your anxiety levels.
However, there were more benefits than just reduced blood pressure. You may also experience a clear reduction in serum cortisol levels, a chemical in the body that is typically associated with higher levels of stress reactivity. It can even lead to an attenuated heart rate.
You might not even need weeks of training to make good use of the benefits of mindfulness. Instead, this same survey of literature found that even one session of meditation improved outcomes on some cognitive therapies and tasks. In other words, it can help you to think more clearly and improve your physical well-being.
8) Relationship Satisfaction in Addiction Recovery
When many people enter into their addiction recovery, it is not just overwhelming emotions that plague them. They have often damaged relationships with loved ones through their substance abuse.
Studies are showing that a regular mindfulness practice can help with more than just emotional distress. The good news is that it also has a profound impact on your relational health. It encourages you to consider the perspective of others, leading to greater empathy. This allows you to feel closer to those you love and live with.
Additionally, it helps you to have a greater awareness of stress reduction which could positively impact your relationships. Less stress puts less strain on your relationships and can prevent automatically reacting to stressful situations with others.
9) Decrease in Chronic Pain with Meditation
Unfortunately, many people enter into addiction treatment because they are struggling with issues of chronic pain. Instead of turning to substance abuse to cope with your pain, you might find that routine mindfulness meditation practices can lower your perception of pain.
One study showed that a meditation technique could slightly reduce pain levels compared to control groups who did not participate in this treatment method. While the decrease in pain was small, it may make a huge difference in your substance use.
Additionally, this study demonstrated that mindfulness practices had improved outcomes for quality of life, depression, and use of painkillers. All of this bodes well for your recovery journey as it can lessen your psychological distress.
Mindfulness Techniques to Use in Your Recovery Journey
When you enter into addiction or dual diagnosis treatment programs with Changes, it may help to consider the different ways you can start to implement mindfulness in recovery and related exercises into your daily life. The underpinnings of the philosophy are the same, but there are multiple mindfulness practices you might utilize to help.
Mindful Breathing to Reduce Anxiety Disorders
The first and perhaps one of the easiest ways to put more mindfulness practices in place is a simple breathing exercise. It allows you to drop back into the present moment while reducing anxiety. One study showed that test anxiety greatly decreased with a quick breathing activity, but that was not the only benefit.
A deeper understanding of your breath can also help you to have a more positive outlook compared to treatment outcomes with cognitive reappraisal techniques. Many people find that they have positive automatic thoughts when engaging in breathing breaks.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Addiction Treatment
Changes Healing Center uses a variety of mindfulness-based stress reduction therapies, but dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is one of the most prominent. DBT asks patients to focus on their rational mind rather than their emotional one with the goal being increased emotional regulation.
In some sessions, you may simply observe your feelings and note them without judging whether they are positive or negative. Mindfulness is an important component of this DBT treatment and can improve skills like attention and memory.
DBT can also assist with the symptoms of comorbid mental health conditions like borderline personality disorder, though it can prove helpful for just about anyone.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy as a Clinical Practice
In addition to DBT, cognitive behavioral therapy also has a way of incorporating mindfulness, making it easier to find therapies that work best for each individual. Traditionally, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) looks at the intersection of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Mindfulness helps you observe that triad without judgment.
If you can incorporate mindfulness in recovery, you can notice your thoughts and feelings without feeling compelled to act on them. It interrupts that automatic pattern of what might have led to substance use in the past.
Mindfulness Meditation as a Coping Skills
Coping skills are an important component of addiction treatment. When you enter into the recovery process, you might use substances as a way to cope with negative emotions. You will need to create new tools to combat your use of addictive substances.
Mindfulness meditation can offer you the escape you need to combat alcohol or drug addiction. It is loosely based on vipassana meditation which is an intense way of sitting with existing thoughts.
When you feel like you might use substances again, you can drop into meditation at any moment. This allows you to think about the thoughts and feelings you have without judgment. By simply observing your experience, you have a new coping skill that can bridge the gap between the desire to use and the desire to remain sober.
Embrace Mindfulness and Lasting Recovery at Changes
When you feel ready to combat those negative thoughts that keep you mired in substance abuse, Changes Healing Center can help. Our Phoenix-based treatment facility specializes in evidence-based treatments for addiction, including mindfulness and dialectical behavior therapy. We do everything we can to help you live your own life on your terms without addictive substances.
If you or a loved one would like mindfulness practice and addiction recovery support to help you stay sober, reach out to our admissions team today to verify your insurance benefits and discuss treatment options. We will be with you every step of the way on your journey to healing!
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