How to Deal with Stress in Recovery

During recovery from addiction, one is bound to face the stressors of everyday life. While stress does not do anyone any good, it is an inevitable part of living. Ditching your old ways and accepting sobriety means finding new ways of dealing with stressors and life’s frustrations.

Remember, the most common reason why people get addicted to substances in the first place is that they turn to those drugs as an escape from stress. While rehab centers are excellent at helping you get rid of those toxins from your system and setting you on the right path, it is up to the recovering individual to assume full responsibility for their choices.

Nevertheless, life is rarely a bed of roses post-recovery, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stress is the leading cause of relapses. Research has shown that people with a history of drug abuse have a hypersensitivity to stress that increases their chances of returning to drugs.

As such, people in recovery need to know proper stress management techniques so they can avoid relapsing. The following are some of the signs that you need to de-stress:

  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Neck or back pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pains
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of focus
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Short temper

As mentioned earlier, stress is an inevitable part of life. However, by taking positive steps such as acknowledging and defusing daily stressors, you will no longer have the urge to reach for drugs as an escape. Effective stress management involves assuming healthy lifestyle choices in addition to working with mental health professionals if possible.

Here are stress management tips that will help you manage stress during addiction recovery.

1. Time Management

Effective time management, especially during the first three months of recovery when you are most susceptible to relapsing, will go a long way in helping you avoid post-treatment stressors. When you are fresh out of treatment, you will have an overwhelming urgency to do everything right. You will want to look for or get back to your job, do all tasks without failure, make time for your family and friends, go to your counseling meetings, and more. Unfortunately, even for any other person, this is just not possible. However, a recovering individual will feel they need to do all that and more, probably in order to appease their loved ones and show them that they are indeed ‘new and better’ individuals, or just to prove it to themselves.

As you can imagine, this puts an incredible amount of stress on the mind and body. Even if you are able to accomplish all that, it will be extremely difficult to sustain that kind of output for long. One may eventually burn out and find themselves reaching back towards bad habits and unhealthy behaviors.

To avoid this, you will need to start small. Set realistic and achievable goals in the beginning. This could be one or two things you must do every day, such as going to work and your 12-step meeting. Gradually increase your tasks with time.

2. Talk It Out

Even when you are doing everything right, stress eventually catches up with you. It could be from things outside your control, such as issues at your workplace or with family members. Regardless, you cannot afford to bottle up those emotions. It will only exacerbate your stress and potentially lead you back to the rabbit hole you fought so hard to escape.

Talking to a non-judgmental friend or family member will help clear your mind to help you focus on problem-solving. Counselors are incredibly beneficial as they do not have a bias. Loved ones might try to protect your feelings thus not allowing you to see things as they are. Additionally, try and distance yourself from friends, loved ones, and other people who do not fully understand your addiction or support your recovery efforts.

In case you do not feel like talking, journal what you are feeling. Journaling can be therapeutic as it allows you to let out your emotions.

3. Identify Stressors in Advance

Stress is often a result of reoccurring things, events, or themes. Are you having relationship problems? What is the underlying issue triggering all the fights? Are you unable to meet deadlines at work? Could waking up earlier help you meet them?

Stress is bound to happen when you find yourself in the same murky situation over and over again. And since you are reacting to situations, you will feel as if you are not in control of your environment or life, thus leading to frustration.

However, by being proactive, you will be able to manage the outcomes better. For instance, if you notice the source of your frustration is an inability to meet your deadlines, you could decide to get to be getting to work earlier. If you do this and you are able to meet the set objectives, it is likely you will have a sense of relief. Keep doing this and you will never have to worry about that stressor again. Now actively seek out and write down all your stressors then formulate their solutions.

4. Meditate

There is a reason why many motivational books or successful individuals recommend meditation. It is a technique that has proven to be effective at stress management. Meditation is a technique that attempts to calm your mind by focusing on your breath so that you can learn to notice what causes your stressors and why they are hard to manage.

Moreover, it allows you to become more mindful. This means you will be able to notice thoughts that trigger negative emotions as they begin to manifest. You can then ignore them or replace them with positive ones.

Your insomnia is often a result of an overactive mind. Meditating before bedtime should help you calm your mind so that you spend your time doing actual sleeping instead of going over your stressors. In addition to meditating, avoid gadgets such as phones and laptops before bedtime as the light from their screens affects your melatonin production. Dim your lights in the hours leading to bedtime so that your brain knows you are preparing to sleep.

The benefits of an eight-hour sleep are limitless. Increased energy levels and better mood are some of the benefits of good sleep that allow you to effectively manage stress.

Stress is one of the leading causes of relapses. Proper stress management, therefore, is the key to ensuring you stay on top of your recovery. Looking to know more about addiction recovery? Overland Intensive Outpatient is an addiction treatment center dedicated to bringing down addiction levels in Los Angeles, California. Our addict treatment programs not only address the physical effects of substance abuse but also treat the mental health problems that lead to drug use. Get to know more about our addict treatment programs and addiction treatment center by contacting us today.