Unfortunately, stress is an unavoidable part of life.
Aside from the challenges related to being in recovery, you may find yourself feeling stressed out by a big project at work, money troubles at home, disagreements with your significant other, or unexpected parenting challenges. The key to staying on track with your sobriety is learning how to cope with stress in a healthy way.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for managing stress. Everyone faces different challenges, and individual tolerances for stress will vary according to personality type. However, this article outlines several approaches you may find helpful in dealing with common sources of stress in recovery.
Reevaluate Your Boundaries
Sometimes, we make our lives unnecessarily stressful by refusing to set healthy boundaries. If your stress is caused by a schedule that’s too full, it’s okay to scale back your commitments to a more reasonable level. If your stress is caused by toxic relationships, you may need to cut off or reduce contact with the people who are creating unnecessary drama. Making choices that build the foundation for a balanced lifestyle is not selfish.
Write in Your Journal
Journaling is an excellent way to relieve stress because your journal provides a safe place to write about your feelings. The process of getting your thoughts down on paper also helps you to view a situation more objectively. After writing in your journal, you may realize that a stressful situation isn’t such a big deal after all or be able to brainstorm a new way to deal with your problem. Check out this post by our partners at St. Joseph Institute, How Keeping a Journal Can Help You Stay Sober, which explains the benefits of journaling in greater detail.
Meditation has long been practiced throughout the world as a way to relieve stress. Mindfulness meditation combines breathing exercises with self-awareness and muscle or body relaxation. This helps you to quiet your thoughts so you can live in the moment, without judgment or anticipation. Refer to our post on the Benefits of Meditation in Addiction Recovery to learn how Valley Recovery Center incorporates meditation into substance abuse treatment plans.
Distract Yourself with a Favorite Hobby
Before you were in treatment, you likely distracted yourself from stressful situations with drugs or alcohol. While this worked in the short term, it created countless long-term problems. A better alternative to cope with stress is to engage in a favorite hobby. Painting, listening to music, dancing, watching movies, or playing video games can take your mind off your troubles temporarily and help you clear your head so you’re better able to deal with your problems at a later date.
Exercise, whether it’s a brisk walk, a bike ride with a friend, or lifting weights at the gym, increases your brain’s production of the feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. This naturally boosts your mood and reduces your stress. Indirectly, regular physical activity keeps stress levels in check by increasing your energy, reducing insomnia, and promoting a more restful sleep. It’s best to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, but even smaller amounts of exercise can be beneficial as long as you’re consistent.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
When you’re feeling stressed, it’s tempting to skimp on sleep. However, fatigue can make it harder to accomplish necessary tasks and see situations with a clear head. Making sure you plenty of sleep is an essential way you can cope with stress. Make a commitment to practicing good sleep hygiene and getting as much rest as possible. This means avoiding caffeine in the late afternoon and evening hours, setting up a cool and dark sleeping environment, and creating a calming bedtime routine that helps your body recognize that it’s time to go to sleep.
Call a Friend
Stressful situations can make you feel like you’re all alone, but talking about your problems with an understanding friend can remind you that you have people in your life who care and want to help. If you’re not used to talking about your problems openly, this can feel a bit awkward at first. However, you may find yourself surprised by how supportive and encouraging your friends can be when you give them a chance.
Lean on Your Sober Support Network
If stress has triggered cravings that you’re struggling to manage, it’s time to turn to your sober support network. Go to a 12-Step meeting, call your sponsor, or utilize the relapse prevention and aftercare services provided to all clients of Valley Recovery Center in California. No matter what you’re going through, your sober support network can help you stay on track with your recovery.