Learning how to handle stress in recovery is an ongoing journey which presents some obstacles. Stress and substance abuse have a toxic relationship which is why it is key to find sustainable ways of coping with stress in life. The presence of stress can feel daunting but there are steps to deal with getting out of the anxiety trap and into more peace of mind.
Understanding Stress Symptoms
A large part of dealing with stress in recovery is knowing symptoms of stress and dealing with them effectively. Four main stress categories include:
- Thoughts, including self-criticism, difficulty concentrating or making decisions or fear of failure
- Feelings, including anxiety, irritability, moodiness and anger
- Behaviors, including increased or decreased appetite, smoking, grinding teeth or withdrawing from people
- Physical symptoms including sleep disturbances, stomach upset, more colds, rapid breathing, trembling or dry mouth
Stress is a normal part of everyday life but for people in recovery, dealing with daily stress without substances can be very challenging. People who continue to work recovery programs know how to deal with recovery better. The following suggestions can also help:
1. Manage Time
Poor time management or mismanagement of time is a common source of stress. Develop healthy routines which making the most of one’s time. Set a reasonable schedule which includes recovery meetings and activities but set margin for rest.
2. Connect with People
Being alone is OK but only for short periods of time. Early recovery requires support and empowerment from people in recovery. Distance oneself from those who do not support or provide positive interaction in recovery.
3. Talk About Feelings
Bottled-up emotions increase frustration, stress and the possibility of relapse. Share feelings with trusted people such as sponsors, supportive friends and family members. Seek professional counseling if needed.
Physical activity plays a key role in stress reduction and prevention of stress. Find enjoyable activities such as running, walking, weight lifting, tennis and gold. Talk with a doctor about health concerns prior to starting any programs.
5. Get Enough Rest
A person who is well rested is less likely to experience stress. If a person is running on fumes from lack of sleep and not eating right, the person may be less able to deal with stressful situations. Find ways of coping which don’t require losing out on much needed sleep.
Stress management is the key to lowering anxiety and getting out of the cycle of ups and downs. Life will bring challenges, but using the tools provided, it is possible to lower stress, increase productivity and feel more positive and healthy overall in recovery.
The Villa works with families and individuals to better cope with stress and other relapse triggers in recovery. If you or your family are struggling with addiction issues, call us to find out how we can support you.