Positive Mentality, Positive Change: Understanding Mindfulness and Addiction
Did you know keeping a mindset can aid you in your addiction recovery journey?
No matter where you are in your recovery journey, you’ve probably heard the phrase “positive mindset” before. If you want to go from addict to recovery, you have to want it. It’s going to be your mind against your body most of the time.
Mindfulness can play a huge part in your recovery process. Keeping a positive mindset has been proven to help you see positive changes in your own life.
So how does this work? How can you use mindfulness and positive psychology to move on from addiction?
We’ve put together an overview for you. Read on to learn more about the dynamics of mindfulness and addiction.
How Do Mindfulness And Addiction Relate?
If you’ve ever experienced addiction, you know just how powerful a hold it can have over your body. It might be hard to see how positive thinking can help you overcome those urges.
You might be surprised to learn just how powerful it can be, though. To start with, mindfulness helps us see what we’re attached to that causes our addiction in the first place.
If you have an addictive personality, there might be an underlying reason for that. Do you have anxiety? You might be more prone to becoming an alcoholic since the drug acts as a depressant and can make you feel calmer.
If you’re depressed, on the other hand, you might be searching for a high to pull yourself out of despair. In that case, you might be more likely to reach for amphetamines.
Mindfulness can help you recognize the emotional cause of addiction and realize what your triggers are that might make you want to break your sobriety. If you know your triggers ahead of time, it’ll be much easier to overcome them.
How Does Mindfulness Help?
Now that you know how mindfulness and addiction are intertwined, let’s look at some of the concrete ways that mindfulness can help you in your everyday life. There are a lot of different ways that you can use mindfulness — you just have to find what works for you.
Assists With Mood Regulation
Some people might be dismissive of mindfulness. How is thinking about your addiction going to do any good?
Believe it or not, mindfulness actually has physiological benefits to it. Meditating consistently ten minutes a day, for example, can change your body.
Think about what happens when you meditate. You relax, your breathing grows deeper, and ideally, you enter a state of deep contemplation.
While that’s happening, your blood pressure is lowering, there are fewer stress hormones in your blood, and your body reduces its anxiety response.
You’re also using the part of your brain that’s associated with things like optimism and self-compassion. In turn, that gives you greater control over your emotions.
Grows Your Prefrontal Cortex
Addiction is so powerful because it alters your brain chemistry. Your brain associates whatever you’re addicted to as a “reward,” so you’re constantly craving it. But you can re-train your brain, and even grow a part of your brain that will help you fight it.
Yep, you read that right — you can change the structure of your brain through mindfulness.
Remember how we mentioned that meditation uses the part of your brain that’s responsible for self-compassion? The more you meditate, the more that area — specifically, your left prefrontal cortex — will grow.
That opens up new neural pathways that will help you focus on the positive things in your life, instead of the negative things that might drive you back to your addiction.
If there’s one quality you need when in recovery, it’s resiliency. Recovering from addiction is no easy task, so you’re going to need immense mental strength to make it through.
Mindfulness helps you become more aware of what goes on inside your head. What makes you anxious? What makes you insecure? What makes you happy?
When you answer those questions, you’ll understand what makes you tick. You’ll also be able to live more intentionally.
You’ll also learn how to deal with those negative thoughts that come up. Since you’ll know their cause, you’ll understand healthier ways to respond, building up your resilience.
Become Less Judgmental Of Yourself
Your journey won’t be a straight path. You might relapse while recovering from addiction, and if that happens, you can’t let the shame stop you from trying to get sober again.
Take a drug test to gauge how much of the drug is still in your system (this page has some great ones for quick results) and then get back on the wagon. When you get started again, though, you have to come at it with the right mindset.
Mindfulness teaches you how to look at yourself and your emotions objectively. Instead of getting frustrated with your flaws, you can accept them as part of who you are.
This is a big step towards self-acceptance, which promotes a healthy self-image.
Deal With Your Cravings Effectively
Finally, when those cravings do hit, it’s important to know how to manage them in a healthy manner. Mindfulness can help you learn how to deal with them effectively.
Even something as simple as mindful breathing — focusing only on your body inhaling and exhaling — can help you bring you back to the present moment and draw attention away from the craving.
Since mindfulness also helps you practice looking at things objectively, it will help you recognize that you’re craving something without feeling like you need to act on the craving.
Of course, there’s no substitute for professional help. Although mindfulness has a lot of benefits, it’s always a good idea to seek out a support group or a psychiatrist. You should never try to tackle addiction on your own.
Linking mindfulness and addiction creates a fantastic strategy for overcoming addiction, helping yourself begin a successful recovering process, and learning to love yourself. Whether you completely change your lifestyle or only meditate for one minute a day, you’re taking huge steps towards self-improvement.
Want to learn how to get started? Check out our guide to help beginners learn how to begin meditating.