Coping Skills to Manage Anxiety When Living with Addiction

Although I am not a fan of claiming labels as an identity, I have noticed the more I use the term “anxiety,” the more people seem to relate to me. But I have had to separate the concept of being anxious versus feeling anxious. I used to say, “I have anxiety,” making it a part of who I am. Since starting my journey to enlightenment, I have learned that anxiety is not something that I am. It is something that I feel. 

If we claim these identities and labels as a part of us, how are we supposed to heal and manage these unwanted feelings? Anxiety can show up when you least expect it, and it can feel incredibly uncomfortable and unbearable. But once you find ways to help ease the discomfort, you will learn that anxiety does not have to be a part of your identity. You are not your anxiety. You are a human being, put on this Earth for a higher purpose. 

Using Substances to Ease Anxiety Never Works 

Almost all the self-help books I have read mention being the observer of your thoughts. While this used to feel impossible and daunting, I have since learned to feel and observe the anxious thoughts as they come and go. It is not always easy. I know this. Some days can feel impossible to bear, and I result back to toxic behavior of using drugs and alcohol to ease the feeling. 

This technique never works. The second I start to feel anxious and decide that pouring a drink in my mouth will help, I am only extending and enhancing the unwanted feelings. The anxious thoughts always come back once I sober up, and they are almost always worse. Drugs and alcohol may temporarily fix your problems, but the better solution is sitting with your feelings. To observe your thoughts and feelings means to separate them from who you are. 

Coping Skills for Managing Anxiety 

Although most of us have likely experienced anxiety, the feelings and symptoms will look different for every individual. Therefore, so will the tools and techniques used for managing the symptoms. If you are struggling to find ways to manage your anxious thoughts, I encourage you to try new coping skills until you find what works for you. 

Meditation and mindfulness practices have changed my life. I have become far more conscious than I ever knew was possible. I have developed a whole new level of self-awareness, and it shows in the several different journals I have with written thoughts. Yoga has become an enjoyable, mindful movement that brings me connection and clarity. I have found that phoneless, disconnected walks through nature help me feel grounded. Podcasts, music, or even calling a friend to chat are other healthy tools I use to manage anxiety. 

Finding what works for me has not been easy, and to this day, I might choose to use none of the above and let the anxiety control me. It is a wild ride, and all we can do is try our best. Remember, you are worthy, deserving, and strong enough to manage any uncomfortable feeling that comes your way. I believe in you, and you should too.