Mindfulness in Relapse Prevention

Mindfulness in Relapse Prevention

 

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The mind is a powerful thing. It can create and invent, love and imagine, build and expand. But the mind has a dark side too; it can belittle and depress, trap and imprison. This is the unfortunate case for many who suffer from addiction and other mental illnesses. Fortunately, mindfulness approaches to these issues offer a promising future for many.

 

 

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Mindfulness exercises have proven extremely helpful in preventing relapses in individuals who have overcome addiction. By tapping into the vast power of the mind, we can learn to use our brains to our benefit, rather than feel stuck in addictive behaviors.

 

 

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Mindfulness, in essence, is purposeful awareness. It is similar to meditation, but can be applied in any moment in life. Practicing mindfulness can help people to understand their triggers and stop habitual patterns in their tracks. Habit and automatized reactions to these triggers are one of the most difficult aspects of addiction to overcome. Using mindfulness techniques can put a break on these responses and provide the individual with time to process, think, and make a conscious decision – thus helping to prevent relapse. Mindfulness puts us in control of our brains, rather than the other way around.

 

 

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By taking on a mindfulness approach to addiction, we help to change engrained patterns in the brain that lead to relapse. One of the major difficulties, other than beating habit, is discomfort – both mental and physical. For many, their addiction allowed a sense of momentary ease and release. When we feel uncomfortable, we often seek out that release with our drug of choice. By using mindfulness, we can pause to examine the situation. Here we can look further into what is causing the discomfort, or change our mental relationship with that sensation to form a healthier response.

 

 

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On the emotional landscape, mindfulness helps to create a conscious awareness of our feelings, sensations, beliefs, and actions without leading us down the damaging path of self-judgement. Addiction recovery often involves emotions like anxiety, fear, sadness, depression, guilt, shame, and regret. Recovery has it’s ups and downs and during the low points, these emotions can fall heavy. Mindfulness allows us to acknowledge, understand, and accept these emotions as they arise. From here, we can take back control of our minds.

 

 

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From a holistic viewpoint, mindfulness has far wider reaching benefits than just that of situation-specific relapse prevention. In addition to helping people understand their emotions, addictions, and habits, mindfulness also fosters understanding and compassion for ourselves as well as a wellness-focused recovery and lifestyle. This type of approach leads to a lifetime free of worry, relapse, and self-deprecation. Practicing mindfulness is essential in relapse-prevention, but is also a positive, life changing habit in and of itself.  

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