Sobriety X Anxiety: Here’s What I Found

Since becoming sober, I’ve experienced really bad anxiety. I guess I have always had anxiety, but coped with it through drinking. But now that I am sober, my anxiety has been out of control. I wake up feeling like I am about to lose my mind without warning and for no apparent reason. I know it’s just my mind playing tricks on me, but it sucks. The more anxious I get the more I want to drink. So this week I went on a mission to discover tools to help manage my anxiety. Below are some tools that work for me and some that I have yet to try but might work for you. They are listed in no particular order.

Tarot Reading. I recently started reading tarot cards for myself. If you are unfamiliar, tarot is a deck of 78 cards. Every card has its own images, symbols and meanings. In each deck there are 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. Major Arcana cards tend to indicate major events or relate to major issues, while theMinor Arcana cards tend to highlight lesser events.  I use tarot to guide my intuition and to manifest my goals- not to predict my future.

There are many different ways, you can read or “lay” tarot cards, but this week I chose to read the Card of the Day.  Every morning, I would select my card of the day, and in a notebook I would write down my interpretation of the card. At the end of the day, I would write down what actually happened. Doing this morning ritual boosted my confidence and gave me some direction on how to begin my day.

I understand that tarot reading isn’t for everyone, but my mornings have been less anxious so I am going to continue my morning readings. If you are interested in learning about tarot, I suggest you book a tarot reading session with Tatianna Tarot at https://www.tatiannatarot.com/. I did my first reading with Tatianna in November and it left me feeling inspired so I decided to purchase my own deck. I also watched “how to videos”on YouTube. I don’t have a favorite “how to video” but there are a number of them out there. You may also purchase a beginners book from Barnes and Noble. 

Meditation. I’ve been advised to learn how to meditate for years now, but I always felt like meditating wasn’t my thing. There is just something weird about sitting down and just…breathing. Well this week I downloaded the well-known meditation application, Calm.

As soon as you open the app, it asks you to choose your top goals. Of course, I clicked on reduce anxiety and started the 7 Days of Calming Anxiety- a “program meant to ease anxious thoughts”. Day 1 was somewhat difficult because my thoughts were racing all over the place. However, as the application states, meditation only gets better with practice and by Day 7, I was centering my attention on my breathing and allowing my thoughts to come and go.

Unfortunately, Calm subscriptions range from $9.99 a month to $59.99 a year. They do, however, provide a free week trial! Give it a shot and if you don’t have the funds to pay for the app or simply don’t want to pay for the app, there are many “how to meditate” videos on YouTube you can use for free.

As for me, I am going to keep the app and meditation in my morning ritual.

Prayer/Affirmations. I am of Muslim faith but I haven’t “felt” God for some time now. I admit that it may have been because I simply didn’t try to. I have never been the type of Muslim to pray five times a day regularly, but for the last two years I stopped communicating with God. I stopped having morning conversations with Him and giving thanks to Him at night. Life became tough and I stopped giving God control and speaking over the fear in my life.

I used this past week to reconnect with God and it was wonderful. I prayed after waking up each morning- giving thanks for the good and bad, and asking Him for a peace of mind and to relieve my fears and help me remember my truths. After prayer, I would get a warm, fuzzy feeling. I got out of my bed feeling assured and peaceful.

If you don’t believe in God (or gods) or want to pray, I believe reciting affirmations can work just as well as prayer. Affirmations are positive statements that can help you challenge your negative thoughts. When you repeat them, and believe in them, positive changes will manifest in your life.

There are hundreds of affirmations available online. My favorites are below and are from betterhelp.com- I hope they help.

  1. Life wants what is best for me.
  2. I can find pleasure in my life right now.
  3. I will only allow healthy things in my life right now.
  4. I am a strong, independent person.
  5. I am loved. I am unique. I am important.
  6. I matter therefore I am worthy.
  7. I can do this.
  8. I love who I am, I am in control.
  9. I control my mind; it does not control me.
  10. I have the power to stop this.
  11. I will succeed.
  12. I will make this happen.
  13. I am relaxed, I am calm.
  14. I will be successful.
  15. I am free from my anxiety. I am in control
  16. I am above stress of any kind.
  17. All is well. I am safe.
  18. I am prepared for change. I am strong.
  19. I acknowledge that this is hard and I will rise above it.
  20. I am cool, calm and collected. 

Therapy. It should be no surprise that therapy can teach you how to control your anxiety. I see a therapist weekly and my sessions give me life. During my sessions, my therapist and I uncover the underlying causes of my worries. I leave my sessions looking at situations in new, less frightening ways. My therapist also helps me develop helpful coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills.

Most health insurance plans include behavioral/mental health services. If you do not have health insurance or cannot afford it, you may be able to get free or low cost coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace or through your state Medicaid agency. Click https://www.healthcare.gov/medicaid-chip/getting-medicaid-chip/ to learn more. You must apply before December 15, 2018. 

Exercise.  According to most psychologists, exercise can help manage stress. I definitely exercise -or try to- daily to provide myself an outlet for my stress (and to lose weight). Getting to the gym consumes a lot of my energy but once I am there I feel good and energized. I enjoy weight lifting, but you may like yoga, walking or hiking. Give exercise a try. It is free!

Mocktails. I have yet to make a mocktail but I am definitely looking forward to it. Sometimes when I feel anxious, I feel like drinking. But I am sober, so I can’t, and that is where I think mocktails can play a role in calming my anxiety and staying sober.

Mocktails are non-alcoholic drinks that are designed to imitate cocktails minus the alcohol. Mocktails are more nutritious that normal cocktails (depending on the ingredients you use) and can be fun and easy to make. I plan on making mocktails in the upcoming year, and sharing my recipes and photos with you. If you would like to make a mocktail before the upcoming year, visit Pinterest for recipes.

I never imagined that my sobriety would exacerbate my anxiety, but the correlation does make a lot of sense. This week, I used most of the tools mentioned above to combat my anxiety, and I was able to start my days less anxious than I did in the last week. They may not work faster than drinking, but over time, they will have a much better affect on your body than drinking ever could.

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