13 Oct A Framework for Managing Mental Health Symptoms
Substance use disorders are often accompanied by other mental health disorders. Even if you have not been diagnosed with other mental health disorders, there may still be many unraveling emotions to process during your recovery.
You may have used alcohol or other substances to cope with stressful or emotionally taxing thoughts or situations in the past. While confronting negative emotions can be draining, it’s essential to confront them so you can learn more about yourself. By facing your negative emotions, you continue to grow and learn to live a life that is not controlled by fear.
Understanding the traumas that you may have faced in the past and their effect on your life will help you manage your trauma symptoms. Trauma is defined as any event, recurring situation, or set of circumstances that a person experiences that are emotionally or physically damaging, life-threatening, and negatively affect the person’s overall well-being. Trauma can affect the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of your life.
You may also have experienced second-hand trauma. This could mean that you witnessed a traumatic event, heard about a trauma that happened to someone close to you, or experienced the aftermath of a trauma. Both types of trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and could trigger or worsen other types of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more. Trauma can cause extreme distress, especially when triggered by something that reminds you of the event.
Acknowledging the trauma that you may have experienced will give you a better vantage point to analyze negative behavior you exert because of your trauma. Understanding the root of the problem will help you discover helpful tools to manage symptoms and potentially prevent relapse during your recovery journey. If you misunderstand the cause of your negative behaviors, it may lead you to turn to wrong and possibly damaging solutions such as drugs and alcohol.
Learning the Tools
Learning tools to manage your emotional distress will be an essential aspect of your recovery journey. When you encounter distressing situations, emotional tools to manage your negative behavior and destructive emotions will help you with negative impulsive behavior. You can learn these tools from a mental health professional or even your peers. You can even look up some tips online for how to manage panic attacks or depressive episodes.
Everyone handles their emotions differently, and emotional management does not come in the form of one-size-fits-all. You have to find the tools and methods that work best for you. Finding what works best for you will depend on how you process your emotions and react to stressful situations, as well as your strengths and your weaknesses.
Finding the right tools may take some trial and error, but examining your trauma will put you on the path to finding the necessary tools to manage your symptoms. Along your recovery journey, you may find that some tools that used to work might not be effective over time. Your mental health will change as you do, and you might have to adjust your method of managing your symptoms as you and your life go through changes.
Taking a Break
Managing your mental health symptoms takes a lot of work, time, and emotional energy. Sometimes you’ll need to take a break from dissecting your traumas or figuring out tools to manage your emotions. When you become too overwhelmed to progress in your emotional management or trauma analysis, take a break from it all by doing something special for yourself.
Doing something special can include watching your favorite movie, taking a walk in nature, reading a good book, or playing video games. Sometimes you need to step away from the distressing situation before working on a solution to the problem.
Participating in an activity that brings you joy will allow you to reset your mind. You can decide to put your negative thoughts aside to revisit them at another time when you have a clearer head.
You can try relaxing by practicing meditation or yoga. Many yoga and meditation practices focus specifically on a particular outcome. Some meditations concentrate on letting go of emotional distress, feeling gratitude, inducing deep, restful sleep, and more.
Taking care of yourself and recharging will give you the space you need from a stressful situation so you can decide your next steps. That next step may be talking to your therapist or other mental health professionals, reevaluating coping mechanisms, or discussing your negative feelings with a close friend or family.