Mental and Emotional Health in Recovery

Table of Contents

Our time spent in alcoholism and addiction can wreak havoc on our emotional and mental health. When we finally find recovery, we are usually pleased with how directly sobriety addresses our physical health and how soundly the 12-Steps begin to heal us spiritually. Sobriety and the 12-Steps also help our mental and emotional health, incredibly so in many cases. Just staying away from drugs and alcohol can do a lot to improve our minds and emotions. We often find over time that prolonged abstinence from harmful chemicals and destructive habits, combined with steady closeness to the 12-Steps, can revolutionize our mental and emotional health.

But like any other area of our lives, mental and emotional health take some action on our part. Sobriety and the 12-Steps will do a lot, but we have to participate, too. Even after getting sober, some of us still struggle with mental and emotional health. This is a very common issue, and none of us are perfect. Many people require professional help, and nowhere in recovery should you ever be discouraged from seeking medical help from doctors and therapists. Fortunately for those of us who are struggling, there are several things we can try to remember on our way to healthy minds and healthy emotions in our sober life.

First Things First

Sobriety and the 12-Steps are always our best bet to get healthier and happier in any area of our lives. Of course, we still need doctors and healthy habits – but without sobriety, it is unlikely that we will take care of ourselves in any other area of life. So, first things first. Stay sober by working the 12-Step program with a sponsor, attend meetings, and be of service. Our bodies need time away from damaging chemicals and negative habits to reset our brain and readjust our emotional responses.

The longer we avoid these things, the better our brains learn to regulate themselves, and the less likely we are to be overthrown by emotions. This process is helped greatly by the 12-Steps teaching us healthier and more useful ways to think about ourselves, our lives, and the world. Additionally, 12-Step work is a wonderful tool for learning and practicing emotional balance.

Take Care of Yourself

Getting sober goes a long way to reducing the physical strain we put on ourselves, and it helps our minds and bodies return to healthier states. They begin to heal, and eventually start to regulate themselves again. Sometimes, though, we may want to take our physical and mental healing a step beyond just staying sober.

Many of the ways we can do this are already built into the 12-Steps. For example, meditation can provide mental and emotional stability, and research has shown that it helps balance and heal the body as well. Prayer can have these same effects, too. Continuing our 12-Step work also helps us build new habits, boundaries, thought patterns, and develop tools for dealing with our emotions in a healthy way.

Self-care takes many forms, but it is practically essential. After all, we don’t get sober to keep our lives the same or stay miserable – we get sober to experience a full and happy life. Any of the various methods of self-care that appeal to us and make us feel better are worth looking into.

It can be something as simple as cooking ourselves our favorite dinner, going for a walk, a movie or game night with friends, or reading a book. There are many ways we can find to enjoy our time, improve our happiness, and take care of ourselves. Discovering, exploring, and regularly engaging in good self-care can have a huge positive impact on our mental and emotional health.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Our physical health is an important part of our mental and emotional health. We can take extra care to eat healthier, exercise, and get enough sleep. Both healthy eating and even light physical activity are scientifically proven to improve our moods, increase our brain health, and even fight off or lessen the effects of depression.

Regular physical activity can reduce the severity and frequency of depression, and even lift people out of poor mental or emotional states after they have taken hold. Poor sleep and depression are also closely linked, and treating one condition often improves the other.

Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help

It can be difficult for us to learn healthy boundaries and to unlearn overdependence on people. We must remember that it is always okay – and sometimes vital – to ask for help. As recovery teaches us to be of service to others, it also teaches us how to receive the service of others. Reach out to friends, family, loved ones, and sober members of your community when you’re having a tough time or feeling overwhelmed by emotions. We are all in this together, and reaching out benefits both parties involved.

Never, ever feel shame about seeking help from medical, psychiatric, and psychological professionals. It is nothing to feel awkward or embarrassed about – in fact, for some, it may be necessary to reap the full benefits of a beautiful life in recovery. Sobriety and the 12-Steps will help us immensely, but we may need therapy or medicine to help us with difficult mental and emotional issues as we work our program. Do not be afraid to seek the help you need to live a better life.

Millions of people, both in and out of recovery, suffer from issues of mental and emotional health. Many of the remedies are the same, though in recovery we have the added benefits of sobriety and the 12-Steps. Your life in recovery is not a punishment, but a gift. You deserve to live happily, wholly, and well as you journey with us.

If you are an alcoholic or addict with mental health issues and would like to give yourself the best possible opportunity to get sober and begin the recovery process, the caring staff at Jaywalker Lodge is here for you. We believe that these conditions must be treated concurrently to help you learn to manage mental health symptoms in recovery. Our Master’s level, dually-licensed clinicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists are ready to help you succeed. 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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