Learning Healthy Coping Mechanisms

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Alcoholism and addiction are more than unhealthy coping mechanisms. They are a disease — one that thankfully has a solution. But living a life in active alcoholism and addiction can leave us with a host of unhealthy coping mechanisms, habits, and behaviors. The 12-Step solution goes a long way to help us reshape our behaviors, learn new habits, and stop relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms. Thankfully, there are many things we can do to improve our health and the quality of our lives at every step of recovery.

A New Approach to Health

Once we are willing to participate in the 12-Step program of recovery, we find ourselves and our lives being transformed in a relatively short time. There is an endless supply of things to learn and ways to improve while walking the 12-Step life throughout our recovery. However, the 12-Steps do not directly address things like our physical health. Instead, the 12-Steps incorporate things like meditation, which is an ancient and universal coping skill that has amazing benefits for our entire physical and spiritual being.

Healthy coping mechanisms are necessary skills to learn for anyone who struggles with alcoholism, addiction, or addictive behaviors. These “mechanisms” can be anything from small mantras to breathing exercises to new behaviors that are used any time we get nervous or anxious. When they are effective, these mechanisms can help us prevent anxiety attacks, abstain from negative patterns, and avert mental or emotional breakdowns until we can get somewhere safe and get into some 12-Step work. Needless to say, they are often life-saving things to learn. However, they are not a substitute for the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience produced by working the 12-Steps of recovery. Rather, they are an indispensable addition to our lives, especially if we are in recovery.

A Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit

Nothing can replace the 12-Steps as the foundation of a strong, happy life in recovery. That’s why the 12-Steps are always at the heart of everything we do at Jaywalker Lodge. We don’t shy away from stressing the importance of beginning a journey of spiritual discovery and reliance upon a higher power. These two pillars are what makes recovery work, and what keeps it getting better and more rewarding as time goes on.

That being said, there’s a lot more we do at Jaywalker Lodge and all of it has a purpose. One of our goals is to help develop and ingrain some healthy coping mechanisms which can make the inevitable rough patches life holds for all of us easier to handle. Two of the basics are time in nature and physical activity, which dovetail nicely. The body, mind, and spirit are recharged by nature like nothing else, and a healthy body is the best vehicle for a healthy mind and healthy spirit. So we incorporate indoor and outdoor physical activity, time in nature (both recreational and meditative), and a strong focus on positive nutrition. 

It’s no secret that how we feel mentally, spiritually, and physically are deeply intertwined. Living a 12-Step lifestyle and working the 12-Steps works wonders on our minds, emotions, and spirits. Being sober is a blessing for our bodies as well. Making the extra effort to feed ourselves healthy foods and get a little exercise simply increases the flow and effectiveness of the positivity and healing in our lives. Learning to take care of our bodies is like a preventative healthy coping mechanism. It improves our mental health and the functioning of our entire being.

Other Healthy Ways to Cope 

Therapy is a big part of what we do at Jaywalker Lodge as well. We want each man who stays with us to learn how to best treat and heal his emotional and mental health. The coping mechanisms, behaviors, and practices that come forth in therapy differ from person to person, but they are almost always healing in some way. There is, of course, the prayer and meditation that is so important to the 11th-Step. These tools can be among the most potent healthy coping mechanisms for just about anyone.

There are also lots of little things, like learning some discipline and routine, how to clean up after ourselves and take care of our living spaces, and how to open up to other people, forge intimate relationships, and reach out when we feel distressed. Calling a trusted sober friend is one of the most important lifelines and healthy coping mechanisms we have as alcoholics and addicts in recovery. But doing that takes some trust, vulnerability, faith, and intimacy. At Jaywalker Lodge, we aim to help everyone learn those traits. Calling a friend or our sponsor can get us through tough situations.

At the end of the day, there are countless healthy coping mechanisms available to us, as long as we keep an open mind and ask for the help we need. These methods are best discovered in a recovery-focused, therapeutic environment like Jaywalker Lodge. These healthy skills won’t replace the 12-Step program, but they do compliment it nicely. We can help you not only walk the 12-Steps but explore healthier and happier ways to engage with life.

Alcoholics and addicts often get trapped by unhealthy coping mechanisms, undealt-with traumas, and destructive behaviors but these are not the sole cause of their alcoholism and addiction. They have a disease, one that is typified by a physical allergy, a mental obsession, and a spiritual malady. The 12-Step program is a proven solution that was designed to treat the alcoholic and addict in all three areas at once. Learning how to replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones while simultaneously working the 12-Steps can have massive transformative effects on your life. At Jaywalker Lodge, it is our specialty. If you find yourself unable to maintain your sobriety despite an honest desire to do so, we are the place for you. Let us help you get healthy and stay healthy by recharging your mind, body, and spirit. To learn more about our recovery programs for men, call us today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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