Taking care of your emotional wellbeing is a critical part of the recovery process. Addiction treatment should focus on both physical and emotional health simultaneously because the two are closely linked to one another. When one becomes unbalanced, the other tends to suffer as well which can have a negative impact on recovery.
Emotional wellbeing goes beyond just feeling “happy” and requires a person to focus on their inner thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Whether your feelings are positive or negative, it is important to acknowledge that there is a time and place where it is appropriate to feel happiness or unhappiness. The answer to good emotional health is not to avoid unhappiness, but instead, develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with negative situations in a way that does not derail sobriety.
Aspects of Emotional Wellbeing
Emotional wellbeing is comprised of multiple areas of life. It is multi-dimensional and does not mean focusing solely on happiness versus unhappiness. Areas that impact overall emotional wellbeing include:
- Occupational: feeling satisfied or fulfilled with your job
- Physical: exercising, proper diet, and adequate sleep
- Social: developing supportive and healthy relationships
- Intellectual: expanding knowledge and practicing creativity
- Financial: feeling content with financial situations and working towards bettering them
- Environmental: being in a supportive environment that promotes health and positive wellbeing
- Spiritual: not necessarily related to religion, but finding a sense of purpose or meaning in life
In cultivating emotional wellbeing, it is important to not only provide space to exercise each of these dimensions, but to also develop a sense of self-awareness about one’s own needs. Acknowledging both positive and negative emotions is to important for growth. Rather than ignoring negative feelings and situations, acknowledging them and allowing yourself to feel those moods creates space for growth and learning. It allows you to deal with problems head-on rather than pretending they do not exist and allowing them to fester below the surface.
Improving Emotional Wellbeing
Emotional wellbeing is not an emotion itself. It is the process of feeling and acknowledging the wide range of feelings you experience and responding to them appropriately. The process of practicing emotional wellbeing is not always easy, especially for those who struggle with mental health disorders and/or substance abuse. These can make it difficult to think logically or positively in some situations.
Developing emotional wellbeing requires constant practice in order to improve. Changes often do not occur overnight, but with planning and goal-setting, progress can be made. Some things that can be done to improve emotional wellbeing include:
- Practice stress-relieving activities: Yoga, art, writing, and any number of other relaxing activities can help reduce stress and improve your overall emotional wellbeing.
- Set achievable goals: Setting small goals that you can easily achieve can improve mood and make you feel more productive, especially when feeling overwhelmed.
- Work/life balance: Find a balance between work and home so that you do not feel over encumbered and unable to meet your responsibilities. Something as simple as not bringing work home can help alleviate pressure.
- Spend time with friends and family: Social interactions can greatly improve mood and help reduce stress
- Personal time: Sometimes, the best way to take care of yourself is by spending some time alone. Whether it is spent doing things you love or just resting, personal time can help you recovery emotionally.
Taking time to improve your emotional wellbeing can make it easier to make decisions that take your thoughts and feelings into account. It also allows you to take responsibility for situations more easily and be more willing to take on challenges. All of these changes in thoughts and behaviors contribute to the strengthening of your overall wellbeing and improve quality of life.
Emotional Wellbeing and Addiction Treatment
The most common trigger for relapse in recovery typically stems from stressors related to emotional wellbeing. Not having healthy coping mechanisms established, overwhelming stress, and other emotional burdens can make escape through substances appealing. For this reason, it is critical that emotional wellbeing be addressed to improve recovery outcomes.
Therapy and counseling are vital components of recovery because of their ability to improve emotional health. A significant component of recovery focuses on the idea of forgiveness, learning how to come to terms with the past, and finding ways to work constructively towards a better future. Many in treatment struggle with the idea of “letting go” and may struggle with themes like blame, justification, excuses, shame, or pain. In order to make progress, however, the process of unpacking these emotions and finding their underlying influences or causes can enable growth. Rather than holding onto these negative emotions, therapy is designed to help clients make amends and move forward in their journey.
Promoting emotional wellbeing in addiction treatment is critical to success in recovery. Not only does it allow you to come to terms with your past and forgive yourself, but it also helps set the foundation for creating balance and happiness in your future. Everyone experiences feelings such as shame or guilt throughout life, but finding ways to acknowledge it without allowing it to control your life will lead to true development. Holding onto those feelings only reinforces negative thoughts and behaviors that drive addiction. Instead, working through these emotions and strengthening your wellbeing can provide the tools needed to maintain sobriety.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.