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10 Tips to Help You Progress from Physical Sobriety to Emotional Sobriety

emotional sobrietySettling for just physical sobriety means not getting the most out of your new life. The problem is that giving up alcohol or drugs will only get you back to where you were the substance abuse started – if things were that great back then, you probably would not have fallen into the trap of addiction. In order to find happiness in sobriety, you need to develop emotional sobriety.

What is Emotional Sobriety?

Emotional sobriety is the ability to regulate your own emotions. The most common reason why individuals turn to substance abuse is that they are not able to regulate their emotions. Becoming emotionally sober means that you:

  • develop the ability to comfortably deal with the ups and downs in life
  • learning to live in the present moment – you are not always caught up in stories about the future and past
  • learning how to avoid extremes of mood
  • developing an increased ability to build meaningful relationships
  • being no longer afraid of your emotions
  • being generally positive and optimistic.


10 Tips to Help You Become Emotionally Sober

Becoming physically sober is relatively easy – all you have to do is to stop drinking or using drugs. Developing emotionally sobriety requires a great deal more effort and is not something that can happen overnight. Below are ten tips to help you develop the crucial skill that will greatly improve your life:

1. Be Willing to Face the Challenges in Life

The key to develop emotional sobriety is the willingness to face the challenges that come your way in recovery. It is possible to look at these tests in life as being in the way of your happiness, but this just leads to suffering. A better approach is to see the challenges in recovery as the tools that will lead you to happiness; by overcoming each challenge, it can help you become that little bit more emotionally sober.

2. Build Up a Toolbox of Coping Strategies

One of the benefits of facing new challenges in recovery is developing new coping strategies. This means that when you have to face the same challenge again, you will already have a strategy for dealing with it. The development of emotional sobriety requires that you regularly add new strategies to your coping skills toolbox; eventually you have enough tools that you feel able to face anything, which is what it means to be emotionally sober.

3. Keep an Open Mind

One reason why many fail to develop emotional sobriety is that they become stuck in recovery due to their inability to consider new ideas or ways of doing things. If you keep doing the same things, the same things will keep on happening to you; this means that if you hope to make progress in recovery, you need to change some of your ideas and beliefs. Keeping an open mind does not mean you have to believe everything everyone tells you; it just means being willing to listen to others.

4. Make Use of a Recovery Programme

The aim of recovery programmes like the 12-Steps is to help you develop emotional sobriety. This means that much of the work has been done for you because these programmes are based on what has been found to work for others; it means you do not have to reinvent the wheel by yourself. The aim of these programmes is not just to keep you physically sober, but also to help you build a great life.

5. Learn Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is another very effective technique for helping you develop emotional sobriety in recovery. It works by allowing you to become more objective about your thoughts and emotions, and it teaches you to focus more on the present moment as well. Many different types of meditation techniques can benefit you in recovery and the nice thing about mindfulness is that it is easy to learn; it can be done when walking or going about daily chores.

6. Appreciate All the Good Things in Your Life

Those who are the happiest in recovery are the ones who are able to appreciate just how good their life is. It is not that these individuals necessarily have more money, better health, or many possessions – it is more that they are able to appreciate what they do have. It is important to develop gratitude in recovery because it means always having a reason to experience joy.

7. Have Realistic Expectations for Recovery

By choosing to turn your back on alcohol and drugs, you have taken a positive step towards a much better future. If you develop expectations that are unrealistic though, you might be just setting yourself up for disappointment and disillusionment. It is right that you should expect things to improve for you in sobriety, but it is best to expect progress to be slow at times, taking many unexpected turns. The good news is that it is likely to be the unexpected things in your future that bring you the most happiness.

8. Stay Healthy in Recovery

If you do not take care of your physical and mental health in recovery, it is likely to prevent you from developing emotional sobriety. This is because it can be so difficult to feel in control of your emotions when you feel sick or tired all the time. Once you have developed a high level of emotional sobriety, you will find it much easier to deal with ill health and illness, but it can be hard to make progress in early recovery without a good level of health.

9. Stay Alert for Addictive Behaviours

It is all too common for people to break free of one addiction only to slip into new maladaptive behaviours in recovery. This usually happens due to lack of emotional sobriety. These substitute addictions can include things like workaholism, co-dependency, eating disorders, gambling, exercise addiction, and sex addiction. Any addictive behaviour is going to be bad for you because it means you are trying to escape reality; there are also likely to be many negative effects due to these addiction substitutes, which can lead to relapse. It is important that you are always alert for any signs that you may be developing a new addiction.

10. Consider Getting Help from a Therapist

The benefit of working with a therapist is that this professional can help you dig down to the roots of your problems. This person can also help you examine any thought patterns that may be getting in the way of your happiness. Entering therapy can put your progress towards emotional sobriety into the fast track because it can help you work through your issues quickly. If you enter a rehab programme, you will get to spend plenty of time with a therapist and this can give you a good start in recovery; however, it may be worth continuing with therapy once you return home as well.

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