Mental health and addiction recovery are long processes that demand a myriad of various coping strategies. No one strategy will guarantee a person will never feel the urges to drink or use drugs again. Nor is there a way to guarantee that feelings of depression or anxiety will remain absent for the rest of one's life.
While overcoming addiction and coping with mental health disorders is possible, it is done with a comprehensive set of techniques prepared to help an individual across various settings. This is one's recovery toolkit – the set of skills, strategies, and supports that make up the groundwork of one's continued healing. However, this is something that needs to be cultivated and adapted throughout one's recovery journey. Embracing new strategies each step of the way can aid in one's continued success in overcoming the plights of mental health disorders and the continued stresses of addiction recovery.
What Is a Recovery Toolkit?
A recovery toolkit is a set of core skills that can be employed whenever one is feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, or any other prevalent feelings that one is experiencing throughout their recovery. While there can be a plethora of unique approaches to recovery, having a core set of grounding strategies is essential to build towards one's personalized recovery.
One's recovery toolkit can begin to take form early in their journey. However, it becomes a core aspect of one's continued healing in both the maintenance of one's coping strategies and the further development of one's identity throughout recovery.
Creating a recovery toolkit begins with the basics. However, it is important to explore how each individual responds to various grounding techniques in order to better gauge how one can further adapt these strategies for continued use. Even if some strategies seem simple on the surface, it is important to regularly practice them so they are ready to be employed when an individual is mentally or emotionally strained.
For example, when issues arise as a result of stressors or triggers throughout addiction recovery or when one is feeling anxious or in a panicked state of mind. Ensuring these strategies are well-practiced can help their implementation feel natural and instinctual, garnering the best results when faced with stressful scenarios.
Practice Breathing Techniques
Breathing techniques play an integral role in coping with a wide variety of stresses. Being able to regulate one's breathing in stressful situations can permit the greatest implementations of other strategies. Breathing requires an individual to focus themselves inward, exercising mindfulness and control over their bodily responses to stress.
Coupled with this mindfulness, breathing techniques also allow an individual a few precious seconds to process stresses before acting, greatly reducing the potential effects of dangerous or risky behavior in response to stresses. Practicing taking deep breaths regularly throughout the day and managing the pace of one's breathing can allow these exercises to be ready to implement in the event of a trying scenario. Some ways to practice this include inhaling and counting to three before exhaling, and focusing on one's breathing rhythm during peaceful times.
Grounding in Reality
Grounding oneself in a shared sense of reality is also crucial for navigating the complicated world of recovery. Anxiety, depression, stress, and more can all alter one's perception of the world around them, turning once safe or innocuous objects or environments into seemingly dangerous scenarios. Being able to ground oneself in a concrete way while under the effects of high stress can be essential in establishing effective communication with supports.
Practicing naming objects in one's vicinity regularly, whether at one's desk, or even sitting in the car at a stoplight, can all help an individual readily begin to identify their real-world in the event of stress. Even pointing out or touching simple, obvious objects, such as a pencil, stop sign, or lamp, can all begin to create a shared sense of realism that can be used to situate oneself amidst otherwise stressful experiences.
Keeping Supports on Hand
Supports play an integral role throughout the recovery process, from one's first step into a recovery facility to graduating and reingratiating oneself in communities outside of the recovery sphere. Keeping supports in regular contact through text or email routines, as well as constantly updating their contact information in one's phone can normalize the act of reaching out during stressful times.
Making an effort to maintain some form of communication once a day can keep supports updated. They will be ready to help in the most personalized ways possible during either stressful times or when celebrating one's successes.