Handling Stress in Addiction Recovery
Stress is part of being a human and a normal part of life. Even high levels of stress from a job, school, illness, or death in the family are normal. Some stress can be beneficial to your health because it can help you cope with serious situations. However, an abnormal amount of stress is unhealthy and can take a major toll on a person.
Chronic stress is a consistent sense of feeling overwhelmed and pressured over a long period. It can cause several symptoms that can affect your overall well-being. Symptoms of chronic stress can include anxiety, depression, irritability, aches and pains, weakness, trouble sleeping, unfocused thinking, and less socialization. In addition, chronic stress can be caused by everyday pressures, work, family issues, or traumatic situations.
Managing Stress in a Sober Life
There are ways to help manage daily stress in your life and help to reduce the frustration you feel. Some tips for managing stress can include:
Developing Healthy Routines – Having a daily routine and sticking to it can help your day flow better and ease any stress. For example, a routine for eating, sleeping, working, or going to school will help put your mind at ease.
Exercise – Exercise improves both physical and mental health. It helps boost your mood, improve your sleep, and stimulate the body to release several hormones. Hormones like endorphins and endocannabinoids help block pain. Exercise reduces anxiety and helps to improve depression as well.
Meditation – Meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga, another form of exercise, can be very effective. The concept of mindfulness is also a good way to help reduce stress. Mindfulness incorporates relaxing, deep breathing, and focusing your mind on a peaceful place or place you enjoy that relaxes you.
Rely On Support Groups – Support groups help in several ways. First, they are a social outlet and allow you to interact with others who can relate to what you are going through. People who won’t judge you can be a source of help in times of insecurity or weakness.
Have Fun – Participate in activities that you enjoy. It can help take your mind off of stress. For example, listening to music, or getting together with friends.
Get Adequate Sleep – One of the common side-effects of stress is insomnia. Not getting enough sleep can add to your stress level. It’s a vicious cycle of sleeplessness and stress. Improving your sleep habits and initiating good sleep hygiene can help break this cycle. Exercise improves sleep. You were also setting a sleep schedule, drinking less caffeine in the evening, turning the T.V. off, and avoiding looking at any electronics 30-60 minutes before bedtime can help.
Spend Time Outdoors – Spending time in nature taking a walk can help improve mental clarity. Also, taking a hike, swimming, or riding a bike are good activities to participate in outdoors. This way, you are getting exercise and getting outside to breathe in some fresh air.
Ask For Help – Know when to ask for help. It may be good to see your therapist or counselor if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Don’t put it off. The more overwhelmed you become, the bigger the risk of using again.
Remove Yourself From Stressful Situations – Staying away from negative people is huge when dealing with stress. If you are someone that already struggles with anxiety and depression, negativity of any kind will drag you down. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people instead.
The last way to help manage stress in addiction recovery is by focusing on your goals. If you have a bad day, try to put the stress aside and focus on your tasks. Try not to overcommit yourself, walk away from heated discussions, and listen to music or a podcast as a distraction. If you are overly stressed about a particular situation or incident that may have happened, evaluate the problem. Is this something that you can directly control? If not, you have to learn to accept it and manage it in the best way possible. Finally, give yourself a break and some time to relax and recharge.
The Relationship Between Stress and Addiction
Stress is one of the biggest risk factors for addiction and relapse with addiction.
The National Institute of Health Annals of New York Academy of Sciences “Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction” says:
There is substantial literature on the significant association between acute and chronic stress and the motivation to abuse addictive substances. Many of the major theories of addiction also identify an important role of stress in addiction processes. These range from psychological models of addiction that view drug use and abuse as a coping strategy to deal with stress, to reduce tension, to self medicate, and to decrease withdrawal-related distress, to neurobiological models that propose incentive sensitization and stress allostasis concepts to explain how neuroadaptations in reward, learning, and stress pathways may enhance craving, loss of control, and compulsion, the key components in the transition from casual use of substances to the inability to stop chronic use despite adverse consequences, a key feature of addiction. (NLM)
Most people deal with some sort of stress in their daily life. Small problems like being late for work or an appointment or being asked the same question repeatedly can build up. Sometimes it can be stress from a hard relationship, lack of having a job, financial difficulties, or family issues. You can’t get rid of stress, but effectively managing it is key to addiction recovery.
Recovery From Substance Abuse
Evoke Wellness has a network of drug and alcohol treatment centers that are carefully designed to offer a lasting solution for healing those suffering from substance use disorders. We offer a safe and comfortable environment for medical detoxification. Our patients are treated extensively so that minimal discomfort is experienced during the detox process.
Evoke Wellness provides residential treatment in a structured environment and then provides you with after-care support, which is very important when being treated for addiction. Evoke Wellness is here to help you get on the road to long-term recovery. A sober life begins now!