Stress and Addiction: Coping in Recovery
Stress is a natural part of life. In some ways, stress can be a good thing. Sometimes, stress is a normal response to positive changes in your life, such as feeling nervous about moving to a new house or going to a job interview. Stress can also be a significant motivator. Many people first decide to get sober after being stressed out by legal, financial, or relationship troubles. The problem with stress begins when it starts to take over your life by causing you to focus on the negative aspects of your situation. Many of the best sobriety tips that you can learn focus on stress management to stay emotionally well during your recovery.
What Should People In Recovery Know About Stress and Addiction?
Everyone experiences some form of stress daily. However, some connections between stress and recovery can make it harder to deal with when you are first getting sober—people who are in early recovery face many life changes.
Right now, you might be just getting through the first stages of withdrawal. Dealing with cravings and withdrawal symptoms is both physically and emotionally stressful. You may also be facing changes in your living situation or wondering how you will mend broken relationships. Learning how to deal with your negative emotions rather than numbing them with drugs and alcohol is hard, but you will discover that it is easier when you have a set of stress management techniques to help you get through challenging moments.
How Do You Learn Stress Management Techniques?
Knowing how to deal with stress and addiction isn’t something that just happens. Instead, you may need to work with professional counselors to identify the strategies that work for you. While you were dealing with your addiction, you might have forgotten about some of the things that made you feel good. For some people, going to an addiction treatment program is the first time they remember hobbies and activities that they haven’t enjoyed for years, such as playing a sport.
You will also learn more formal ways to cope with your stress during early recovery. Your counselors can teach you research-based techniques in your therapy sessions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other therapeutic strategies are designed to teach you simple ways to transform how you think about stress and respond to challenging situations. As you practice these new skills, you will gain confidence that you can handle anything that comes your way without turning to drugs or alcohol.
What Are a Few of the Best Sobriety Tips for Handling Stress?
There are some tried and true methods for coping with stress that you can start using right now. You will learn how to implement them more in your life during your addiction treatment, and many of these can be done at any time or place to become part of your tool kit for calming down when stress builds up.
Take a Deep Breath
People often say to take a deep breath whenever someone is struggling. While this seems too simple to work, it helps to know that deep breathing has several effects on improving your emotional wellbeing. Deep breathing sends more oxygen to your brain, which can help stop the fight or flight mechanism that causes your heart to race. Focusing on your breath also serves as a distraction from whatever sparked the stress response.
Identify Your Priorities
Stress tends to creep up when you have too much on your plate. That feeling that you are not getting enough done can take away from your ability to enjoy reaching your goals. Making a list of your priorities helps you remember to let go of what you cannot control. At first, many of your priorities will focus on your recovery. For example, it might be best to accept that you did not get all of your chores done if this means that you still made it to your recovery meeting that day.
Start a Daily Gratitude Practice
It is hard to be unhappy when you have so much to be thankful for. If you are upset about something, you can counteract this thought by focusing on the positive. Create a list of things that you are grateful for. Then, add to it each day. You can start a gratitude journal or just make a shortlist of good things that you can keep on your phone or in your pocket. Then, make it a habit to put down new things that happen each day. Reading through your list can remind you of more positive things that are happening in your life.
Practice Active Recovery
After the initial glow of getting sober begins to wear off, it is easy to start slacking off on practicing what you learned during your early treatment. This is when many people begin to struggle with stress the most. Make sure to keep going to your therapy sessions and reaching out to your sober companions and mentors. Staying on top of your healthy eating and exercise plan also helps your body to have the energy it needs to cope with stress and addiction.
The best way to stop stress from interfering with your recovery is to address it as soon as you begin to feel the tension. Lean on your support network, and remember that stress and recovery can work well together. With the right mindset, you can achieve anything.