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Learning Emotional Regulation

Everyone who is new to recovery arrives with raw emotions. After all, you have probably been stuffing them deep inside for a while. Now that the drugs are removed, your feelings may drift close to the surface. You may react in ways you don’t mean to, or get more emotional about things than you expect to. The first thirty days are especially a time for ups and downs as you become acclimated to a new way of life. Learning emotional regulation may take some time, but as you put more time between yourself and your last substance use, you’ll find that new coping skills can help you take control of your reactions.

What is Emotional Regulation?

Emotional regulation is a broad term used in therapy and addiction treatment. It means how you act and react when it comes to your emotions. Many people in recovery find that they overreact sometimes. Anger can build until you explode. Or you may have irrational fears or anxiety.

By learning new coping skills, you’ll be able to control how much you react to things that might upset you. For example, by going for a walk you can “cool down” when you’re angry.

Some coping skills you may use to help regulate your emotions are:

  • Don’t pick up a drink or drug no matter what. Pick up the phone instead.
  • Do breathing exercises when you’re anxious, rather than blowing up at somebody.
  • When you’re angry, have a plan to cool down, whether it’s going for a walk or run or calling a friend.

Identify some of triggers of anger or anxiety and make a plan to cope with them. We all have things that tend to upset us, causing us to feel or act in a way that is shameful later. Learning what triggers these feelings, and quick things you can do to acknowledge and accept them, can help make your life in recovery a lot easier. Nothing happens overnight! Celebrate your small successes, and if you “fail”, start again tomorrow. No challenge is too great as long as you stay clean and sober.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or somebody you love has a problem with addiction, help is available! We’ve helped many people reclaim their lives and learn to live to their fullest. The hardest part is picking up the phone and asking for help. Please call anyway! 1-800-970-8774. You’re worth it!

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