Breathing Exercises: A Key Factor in Addiction Recovery

The road to recovery after drug addiction is hard and requires a lot of personal strength. There’ll be good days and bad, ups and downs and even if you have plenty of emotional support there will be days you’ll think of giving in. During addiction treatment, you may have learned that breathing exercises can help reduce stress and anxiety, which in turn can help you along your recovery process.

While everyone knows that breathing is an essential part of life, most people don’t know the proper way to breathe to ensure their bodies get the maximum benefit. Learning a few breathing exercises can really help you through the tough days, and every one of us actually has a lot of control over how we breathe. Essential functions in our body are connected to our breathing and how we breathe can change that. Breathing operates the lymphatic system to remove other forms of waste in the cells; it detoxifies our body and also aids in a healthy digestive system. Learning to breathe properly has great physical and psychological benefits. 

Breathing exercises include:  

1) Counting your breath – a mixture of breathing and meditation, this method helps you to maximize your breathing ability. Sit quietly and notice your breath. Inhale and as you exhale count one. Do this until you reach five, and then start at one again. Make sure that you breathe naturally and not forced.

2) Morning breathing – This can be particularly helpful if we have trouble getting up in the morning or have insomnia. In order to stimulate the brain, we need a soft waking to relax our muscles. The following breathing exercise can get us started and help circulate oxygen to our brain and all of our muscles:

– Stand up straight with knees slightly bent

– Bend forward from the waist and let the hands hang down to the floor

– Relax the neck and let the head dangle

– Inhale as you roll up one vertebra at a time back to the upright position

– Exhale and slowly fold forward again

– Repeat five times, bending forward on exhale and inhaling as you roll back up

3) Abdominal breathing – When we suffer from anxiety and fear, our breathing is shallower. This puts our body into fight or flight mode and if we are not in actual physical danger this can cause severe chronic stress and panic. Reducing stress will greatly benefit your physical health and help prevent relapse. Breathe through your nose and diaphragm and inflate your abdomen without raising your chest. By breathing this way regularly, you can even lower your blood pressure. 

During recovery, your body is going through very difficult detox stages and improper breathing can not only slow down your progress but also cause your organs to function inefficiently. Understanding the benefits of breathing can really help you, particularly on those tough days. Once you realize how breathing exercises can help you change the way you feel you’ll want to incorporate it into your life on a daily basis. Breathing exercises are just one tool to help you achieve optimal health, talk to your counselor to find out other therapeutic methods you can use to keep your recovery on track.