Your sobriety may seem like such an integral part of your identity and well-being. It’s the glue holding you together, the fierce awakening that keeps you on the right track.
But sobriety isn’t just about the decision to avoid drinking or using drugs. It’s a far more nuanced way of living, one that entails ongoing intention and diligence. Likewise, being sober is one thing- thriving in sobriety is an entirely different concept.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month- if you’re on your sober journey, it’s an important time to reflect on the benefits of managing your emotional well-being.
What Does It Mean to Manage Your Mental Health?
Taking care of your mental health is a multidisciplinary mindset. First, it’s a continuous way of being- you don’t just reach this pivotal destination of ‘optimal well-being.’ Instead, just like you choose to make positive decisions for your physical health each day, the same philosophy applies to your mental health.
While there isn’t a perfect way to take care of yourself, some of the best mental health practices include:
- Building and maintaining a quality support system.
- Eating a nourishing diet and exercising regularly.
- Engaging in enjoyable hobbies and activities.
- Making time for creative expression.
- Practicing mindfulness throughout the day.
- Attending therapy and taking psychiatric medication as prescribed.
At times, ‘finding what works’ requires a commitment of trial-and-error. You must dedicate yourself to learning, exploring, and reflecting on what works best for you.
What If You’re Struggling With Your Mental Health?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 U.S adults experiences a mental illness, like depression or anxiety. In other words, you’re not alone in your circumstances.
Moreover, the risk of having a mental illness rises exponentially for people with histories of addiction. The two conditions can go hand-in-hand, with almost 40% of people with substance use disorders also meeting the criteria for a mental illness.
This statistic is just one reason why it’s essential to seek comprehensive treatment for a successful recovery. If you only focus on how to stay sober, you risk neglecting your mental health- this oversight can result in devastating consequences.
If you’re sober and currently struggling with your mental health, consider these tips.
Acknowledge Your Situation
There is tremendous power in labeling and identifying a situation. Many times, people rationalize or flat-out deny their experience. These reactions often emerge from combined feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment.
Instead, recognize your emotions. Be honest with yourself. There is nothing wrong with what’s happening inside you, but you need to identify it.
Reach Out to Someone
Who is in your support system? Who can validate you during this time? Reach out even if it feels scary or uncomfortable.
Sharing your feelings invariably creates a sense of accountability. Someone else now knows about your situation and can be a voice of reason, comfort, and empathy.
Speak to a Professional
Asking for help is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Start by talking to your primary care physician. If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, let them know what’s going on. Even if it feels terrifying, it’s best to be forthcoming and open- these people want to help you!
Sobriety is challenging. At times, managing your mental health on top of staying sober may feel daunting. Self-compassion means being kind to yourself, acknowledging your needs, and validating your inherent goodness. Remember that you are worthy of happiness and love- but those benefits often start by looking inward!