For the last 25 years, September is designated Recovery Month as a way to promote that behavioral health is essential to overall health and well being. Towards the end of 2011, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) announced a new definition of recovery: a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Over the years of working as a psychotherapist it has become increasingly apparent to me that recovery is for all of us.
While there are various reasons that folks find their way to my office, they inevitably have one thing in common. Many arrive because of loss, disappointment, difficult relationships, depression, anxiety, disconnection, or trauma, and some form of addictive behavior. Addictive behaviors are those things we habitually do to not feel uncomfortable or difficult feelings. These behaviors are wide ranging from life threatening to everyday activities of life; illegal and prescription drugs, alcohol, food or no food, power and control, nicotine, sex, gambling, caffeine, self harm, codependency, work, exercise, shopping, and relationships.
We can choose to step back into our lives and out of habitual patterns of thought and behavior by integrating lifestyle changes and mindfulness practices. Mindfulness offers a non judgmental, compassionate approach to ourselves and our experiences. Through mindfulness practices we can become aware of our habits of thought and behavior and the automatic reactions that control so many of our lives, and find ways to pause. We learn to recognize our challenging emotional and physical experiences and change our relationship to the resulting discomfort.