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Just Breathe—Addressing Anxiety in Alcohol Addiction

By: Carol Morriscey

Woman doing breathing exercise for anxiety and alcohol addiction with catTaking Control of Alcohol Addiction and Anxiety in Alcohol Rehab

Anxiety is a familiar obstacle while in alcohol rehab, yet is commonly present well before the addiction takes hold. An important part of the recovery process is psychological therapy to address the underlying causes of anxiety, which may have preceded the addiction. A large part of therapy is learning effective coping skills to efficiently deal with the symptoms of anxiety, allowing one to continue with their daily life. One easy and effective way to proactively deal with anxiety is to take a few moments each morning to ground yourself through breathing exercises. Below is my favourite breathing exercise, which I use when I feel the symptoms of anxiety creeping up on me.

First, find a comfortable place to sit up straight. Preferably, this will be in a calm environment—but you’ll know you’ve mastered this breathing technique when it is just as effective in a hectic environment!

Second, listen to your heartbeat. Take a deep breath in, lasting 5 heartbeats. Breath in allowing your stomach to rise first, followed by your chest.

Third, hold your breath for 7 heartbeats. While holding your breath, consider what is causing your anxiety, and prepare to exhale it.

Fourth, exhale the breath slowly for 9 heartbeats. Along with the breath, exhale the thoughts which are causing your anxiety.

Repeat several times, until you feel the symptoms of anxiety melt away.

Giving yourself the opportunity to be present in the moment, take control of your breathing, and exhale any negative thoughts you may be having will be an important tool in maintaining your sobriety. Alcohol Addiction is a chronic disease, meaning it is important to always address any issue you may be having as soon as you identify them. If you are having a bad day, causing a spike in anxiety, these breathing exercises may be a great remedy. If it is something more serious, reach out to those who are there for you or give Searidge Foundation a call.

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers International Security for Traumatic Stress Studies The Canadian Positive Psychology Association The Association for Addiction Professionals