Addiction is a disease that equally affects the mental and physical health of its victims. Hence, for effective treatment, holistic techniques are usually applied to ensure that the patient’s overall health is addressed.
If you received your addiction treatment in a comprehensive recovery center, you would probably be aware of some of these holistic therapies such as exercises, mindfulness practices, breath control therapy, yoga, nutrition, etc. More so, you can appreciate how effective they were at aiding your treatment.
Addiction treatment is a long-term process that does not end immediately after you leave the rehab. Recovery from addiction takes some time, and the early stages of addiction can be a very stressful period for the recovering addict, both mentally and physically.
Hence, it is recommended that a recovering addict engages in some simple holistic practices that can help them manage their addiction. Breathing exercises stand out as one of the most effective and easily applicable techniques a recovering addict can utilize anytime.
As a newly sober individual, breathing practices can help you regain control, anytime you feel yourself being juggled in an emotional rollercoaster.
What Are The Benefits Of Breathing Exercises During Addiction Recovery?
It has long been established that addiction recovery is a phase that comes with many ups and downs. The fluctuation of varying emotions, the hampering withdrawal symptoms, the slippery slope of addiction, addiction triggers, and many other stressors can play a massive role in making you feel overwhelmed.
There are times when you might feel like it is all a little too much to bear, and you just want to give up. At such moments, remembering to breathe can help you calm down, gain some clarity, and look at things more logically.
It is not unusual to hear an individual tell another that is seemingly stressed out to breathe. Nevertheless, we often don’t acknowledge the potency of a quick breathing exercise at such points. Consequently, we don’t resort to it as a means to regain control of our body and mind as often as we should.
Breathing exercises have been scientifically researched and found to be an effective, long-term treatment technique in addiction recovery.1 The benefits of regulated breathing in addiction recovery can be summarized in a few lines. Thus;
- It helps in tolerating and curbing persistent cravings.
- It helps in calming the nerves whenever anxiety or other forms of distress set in.
- It helps you to adapt and become comfortable in distressing situations or environments.
- Breathing exercises are primary treatments that can be applied on the go whenever you feel burdened by a stressor.
- Regulated breathing offers your mind an outlet for the worries that might be suffocating you, thus creating room for clarity.
What Are The Best Breathing Practices For Managing Addiction?
By default, we breathe continuously, but the trick here is to self-regulate your breathing to achieve a goal. The potency of self-regulated breathing has been researched and proven as a treatment alternative for anxiety, stress, and depression, some of the comorbid disorders in people with substance use disorder.2
As a recovering addict, you can utilize various breathing practices to make your recovery an easier process. Below are brief descriptions of four of the best breathing exercises.
Also referred to as abdominal or belly breathing. This breathing technique lays the foundation for most meditation and mind-body relaxation practices. It is effective in dealing with PTSD, sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression during recovery.
- Lie flat or sit in a position you deem comfortable enough.
- Place one hand on the upper section of your chest, and the other just below your rib cage.
- Take deep breaths through your nose.
- With each deep breath, exhale through your lips as if you are whistling. Apply a little pressure below your ribcage as you do so, to push air out.
- Repeat at close intervals for up to 10 times.
This process relaxes the nervous system and increases the flow of oxygen to the heart.
Alternate nostril breathing
This is a commonly used yogic breath control technique. It is most beneficial for mind-body relaxation in recovering addicts. As well as for alleviation of anxiety and stress, boosting the individual’s overall well-being. As a routine exercise, additional benefits are also made evident in improving cardiovascular and respiratory functions in the body.
- First off, exhale completely.
- Use your thumb to close the right nostril by pressing down on it.
- Take a deep breath through your left nostril.
- Use a finger to close the left nostril, and simultaneously open the right nostril to breathe out.
- Breathe in through the right nostril, then close it.
- Open and breathe out through the left nostril, to complete the alternate nostril breathing cycle.
- Repeat the cycle within short intervals, for three to five minutes.
It may take a while to get used to this practice, but when you do, you will be able to feel yourself become more relaxed and alert whenever you complete the exercise. This is because the exercise stimulates the right and left side of your brain to create balance and allow for deliberate consciousness.
4-7-8 breathing exercise
This breathing exercise helps sustain your vitality and limit the chances of getting fatigued, consequently suppressing potential cravings. It is a long term routine that can be practiced twice a day for months.
While it is an exercise you can do anywhere, it is recommended that beginners try it out while sitting and feel free to count faster while still learning. Additionally, the benefits of this exercise are felt more when you make the exercise a daily routine.
- Exhale completely.
- Place your tongue behind the edges of your upper front teeth.
- With your mouth closed, count to four as you breathe in through your nose.
- Hold your breath and count to seven.
- Then exhale through your mouth as you count to eight.
- Repeat the cycle four times.
It is recommended that you do this twice a day, and each session should comprise four cycles. You may increase the number of cycles after four weeks of practice.
This is a straightforward practice that you can make an essential part of your morning. While in recovery, you want to be able to face your day with utmost vitality. Unfortunately, tiredness, sleeplessness, and stiff muscles, which are common morning experiences for newly sober people, might leave you with less vigor than anticipated.
Morning breathing helps circulate oxygen to your brain to stimulate it, as well as unstiffen your muscles. It is an exercise that should be executed gradually and with as much calmness as possible.
- Stand upright with your knees bent a bit.
- Free your body, then bend forward from the waist.
- Your head and hands should be loose and hanging downwards.
- Take a deep breath as you gradually raise the upper half of your body – as if unfolding – from the spine upwards. Your head should come up last.
- Then breathe out as you slowly return to the bent position.
- Repeat the cycle – breathe in as you ‘unfold’ and breathe out as you’ fold.’
Comprehensive Wellness Practices For Managing Addiction
As stated earlier, addiction is a disease that affects both the physiological and psychological state of an affected individual. Hence, it requires a holistic approach in its treatment. This strategy ensures that an addict’s overall mental and physical health is taken into account during treatment.
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, now is the best time to seek and receive a comprehensive treatment that assures a sustained recovery. Opt for an Austin sober living program in a reputable recovery center, including mind-body practices, nutrition, and exercises in their treatment schedules.
Speak to a recovery professional today to learn more about this program and how you can benefit from it.