Anxiety is powerful because it convinces women they are making things out to be more than they are in real life. When traumatic events occur women may avoid emotionally processing, which can lead to anxiety or result in addictive behavior to cope. Anxiety comes out of a fight or flight response in the body that says something is not right. This is a healthy response, but when it gets in the way of normal daily functioning, it can be scary and frustrating. Anxiety can be dealt with in a healthy way with the right support and tools to cope with triggers.
Notice What is Happening
Emotional work is hard work. Some seek easier or less painful ways to deal with triggers for anxiety or addiction, such as avoidance or isolation, but these tend to simply create more work to do. Though it can be difficult to feel and pay attention to the emotions that rise up with triggers, it is helpful for processing trauma. Noticing what the feeling is and being aware of what caused it can help remove self-judgment. Self-blame and shame are part of the anxiety trap women can fall into. When feelings of anxiety arise, it helps to ask if there is a real or perceived threat, this may help in staying grounded in reality and help identify why certain triggers occur. If the fear becomes really intense and the feelings are difficult to step out of, working with a therapist may be helpful to develop further tools and discover what is needed for healthy coping. While allowing space to feel unpleasant emotions is difficult, it is a necessary part of the work to manage anxiety due to trauma.
Answer the Right Questions
Anxiety brings up lots of unfounded fears and questions that have no basis in reality. Shame and self-judgment may give rise to a reluctance to speak about these fears with others or even self-reflect honestly. It helps to be honest about thoughts in order to discover what is based on real evidence and what is only convincing due to the powerful emotions they evoke. Talking with others or a therapist can help in asking important questions. These might include:
- Is this really happening?
- What is actually going on in the mind and body right now?
- What will help resolve these feelings right now?
- Can I breathe through this with some meditative breathing or breathwork?
- Who can be called upon to help right now? And in what way?
Having an accountability partner is a good idea, along with therapists and others who will be of support when panic attacks or anxiety become overwhelming. There will be moments they feel unbearable but most anxiety triggers can be mitigated with the right tools, along with medication and therapy when needed.
One of the hardest things about anxiety is its unpredictable nature. The mind-body connection is more relevant than ever as the researcher looks into how and why inflammation in the body perpetuates anxiety. Anxiety is based on a biochemical response to an event (shallow breath, racing heart), but the mind also works to interpret that event as something being ‘wrong’. Lifestyle choices like drinking caffeine or not exercising can trigger the cycle. These can lead to less dopamine and chemicals that make the body feel more grounded. Self-care is important, including habits and choices. Some healthy choices that can potentially help with anxious thoughts and feelings:
- Drinking lots of water
- Lowering caffeine intake
- Watching sugars and carbs
- A balanced and healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables
- Reducing nicotine intake or stopping it entirely
- Mindful physical movement in the form of yoga, pilates, tai chi, or other calming exercises
It is important to be mindful of how busy a daily schedule is as well. Even if a person is busy with addiction recovery groups and support spaces, not taking adequate time to destress can easily derail efforts to manage anxiety. Set a schedule that works around other responsibilities but always put sobriety and recovery first. Anxiety may take time to manage even in recovery, and maintaining a healthy way of caring for it is important. Be sure to include self-care that supports the journey and keeps the mind-body-spirit connection strong.
Set the Scene
Home is a place where, for some, anxiety can get higher than anywhere else. Too much clutter can trigger one person while not enough time with friends and family may be triggering for others. Isolation can drive anxiety and depression. Work with a therapist to discuss where anxiety originates and how to find support. Try practicing relaxation at home and techniques that support quietness and calming the mind, it can be helpful to implement these techniques even when anxiety is not high. Create a space at home that feels peaceful by bringing natural light into the environment, getting plants, painting the walls a neutral, calming color, or get a few pieces of comfortable furniture or soothing art. Be sure to spend some quiet time in the morning and at night resting the mind before the day begins and ends, this can greatly help with anxiety. This can be helpful to lower anxiety, but it’s okay if it takes some time for any individual to find out which strategies work. What works may need to shift over time as life changes. Don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to people for additional support.
Casa Capri is designed for women to come and find healing from addiction, trauma, and mental health conditions. We appreciate women who are struggling with past trauma and pain who seek support through substances. We can help you find healthier alternatives to creating a sisterhood of sober friends and companions to help you on the journey. If you are struggling with addiction, call Casa Capri today: 844-593-8020
Melissa Holmes Goodmon is the founder and CEO of Casa Capri Recovery, a leading California addiction treatment center created just for women—by women. Melissa is a licensed clinician and has stayed on the cutting edge of women’s treatment since 2006. Because of her own beautiful recovery story, she is proud to be among a small group of trailblazers since founding Casa Capri Recovery for Women in 2011, leading the way for other women to join them in this otherwise male-dominated industry. She is considered an advocate for the recovery community in the truest sense, standing up to discrimination and legally fighting for the rights of sober people in recovery to live in peace. To learn more about advocacy or if you’ve experienced discrimination, you can reach her at email@example.com. Check out casacaprirecovery.com for more information on our program, or please give us a call at 844-207-4880.