October is Emotional Wellness Month! For those of us in recovery, this campaign is particularly relevant. Recovery is not only about removing substances from our system, but about our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Emotional sobriety is the ability to cope with hard feelings without substances, and it’s a big part of emotional wellness. Emotional wellness doesn’t mean difficult things don’t happen in your life; it means that whatever happens, you have healthy ways to cope.
People with emotional well-being tend to be self-aware. They have done—and continue to do—the work to understand both their strengths and areas where growth is needed.
I say “continue to do” because both emotional well-being and self-awareness are not destinations you reach and then you’re done. You continue to work on them throughout your life and recovery. Therapy is a great way to work on both self-awareness and healthy coping.
People who have good emotional health tend to be flexible in their thinking. Rigid or all-or-nothing thinking sets the stage for disappointment and stress. Emotional wellness means being adaptable—which goes back to practicing coping skills to deal when things don’t go as planned.
Humans are big on connection and relationships, so the health of those relationships is an important part of emotional wellness. In treatment and therapy, you can work on communication skills that will improve your relationships.
Check in with your support system regularly, and try to build relationships based on mutual care. Practice asking for help when you need it if that’s difficult for you, or practicing giving support if that’s a challenge.
Building self-awareness also inherently improves your communication with others; in fact, many of the aspects of emotional wellness are connected. Similarly, physical and emotional health affect one another.
Stress impacts your immune system. In recovery circles, you might hear the acronym H.A.L.T (hungry, angry, lonely, tired). These are considered potential relapse triggers. Even our most basic unmet physical needs can affect our emotional well-being enough to make us crave drugs or alcohol.
Practices like yoga have gained popularity among our stressed population in recent years because they align brain and body. You have to use directed breathing and intense concentration—both of which help your mental/emotional health—while healing the body through movement and stretching.
Body scan meditations also align emotional and physical health. They ask you to check in with your physical well-being in a way that promotes calm.
This emotional wellness month is a good reminder that health goes beyond freedom from physical ailments. True well-being incorporates physical, mental, and emotional health; recovery allows us to work on all of these aspects of our lives.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers across the country offer high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build emotional wellness and a life in long-term sobriety. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.