Have you relapsed in the year 2020?
Maybe you have been sober for many years. Maybe you were new to sobriety. Either way, you had the best of intentions of living a sober, happy, healthy life. Then came 2020, and all of the uncertainty, upheaval, and anxiety that appeared to come along with it. Research shows that in times of the greatest turmoil, relapse numbers are highest. Personal turmoil such as losing a job, losing a loved one, going through a divorce, or major illness can shake even the strongest foundations. So what happens when the whole world seems uncertain? When physical health threats seem to be laying in wait on shopping cart handles and simple door knobs? When political uncertainty takes up endless hours of our daily news? Or when economic hardships on a large scale appear to be never ending?
With so much bad news taking up so much of our mental real estate, life can seem quite bleak. It’s easy to see why someone might struggle with relapse, feeling there is no relief quite like the one found in a bottle. For those of you who have fallen off the wagon this year, please know that it is okay. The fact that you’re even reading these words means that you acknowledge what has happened and would perhaps like to move beyond it.
There is hope
If this is you, I am telling you there is hope. There is a light at the end of this seemingly never-ending tunnel of uncertainty and anxiety of this year. It doesn’t have to wait until Covid is over, or the election is over, or even until things are more “settled” with your personal life. This peace can be found now, right where you are. Take a deep breath. Really fill your lungs so that your whole chest moves and expands. Blow it out slowly, and feel the wind of your own breath as it passes through your nose and out of your body. If you need to, repeat this a few times. Don’t think about anything except the feeling of your own body expanding and contracting, the warmth of your life in your body, and just breathe.
Notice how your mind slows down as your breath does. Notice how still your body becomes when you focus in on just one thing. Become aware of the physical sensations of you in this moment, and hang out there for as long as you find value in doing so.
How is breathing going to fix anything?
But, you say, I can just sit and breathe like this all day. I have to find a job, and remember my mask, and I’m running out of my escape mechanism, so I’ll need to find more. I have to continue covering up my misdeeds, I have to play a role, I have to keep up the facade of who everyone thinks I am. There are bills to pay, family to convince, friends to keep in the dark. How is breathing going to fix all of that?
Of course mindful breathing isn’t going to “fix” anything for you. There is no magic genie or cheat code for anything in life, unfortunately. But think about how you feel when you are breathing mindfully, slowly, really experiencing the act of breathing. Or any other time you may have felt peace in your life. Remember how it seemed like all was well, even for just that moment? How a sense of well-being seemed to permeate and wash over your skin, the same way a warm, clean blanket does on a cold day? That sense of well-being isn’t just about that moment, although it may seem so. That moment of calm is much like a reset button for your whole system.
A reset button
We all know when things get overheated that we turn them off, give them a break, and then turn them back on again. We don’t trash our laptops just because they get hot. We don’t say “Well, it’s hot now, I might as well throw it in the pool!” That would be ridiculous. But often, that’s really similar to what we do with ourselves when we feel things aren’t going well. If we cheat on our diet, we feel guilt and anger at ourselves and possibly eat another piece of cake. If we can’t seem to master a golf swing, we may throw our club in a lake in anger. If we relapse, we may feel like all our hard work has been irrevocably shattered…so we might as well drink the whole bottle. And while we’re at it, grab two more!
But we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves. Yes, today was hard. Maybe the whole past six months was hard. But today, right now, this minute, it doesn’t have to be. So just breathe. Breathe and feel your body relax. If you’ve been struggling, you probably haven’t treated your body to real, deep breathing in quite some time. Breathe and notice that your fingers and hands seem more full of energy as oxygen rich blood gets pumped to them. Inhale and notice your legs and feet can stretch and flex to carry you forward from here. Sip the air around you and notice how the fist that has seemed to be gripping your mind tightly seems to loosen and relax.
Clarity to find solutions
There are solutions for all of your current problems, just like there always have been, even if you can’t seem to see them right now. Those answers won’t magically come to you through breath, through mindfulness, or anything else–but the peace and health that come from giving your mind and body a chance to reset will allow you the freedom to actually begin looking again. They will provide the blank slate you may need to have fresh insights to appear. And if you feel the vise grip of uncertainty beginning to squeeze once more, simply breathe into it once more.
If you have relapsed this year, we want to hear from you. Centered provides a safe place for calm health to once again arise. We help guide our clients to their own new insights, and help clear the way for healthy growth and development. And the struggle of addiction can end–today.
Call Reed at 800-556-2966 for more information.