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In Recovery: How Do You Cope with Stress?

Posted 09-03-2013 at 03:10 PM by ChristaIB
Updated 09-05-2013 at 11:10 AM by ChristaIB

stressedwomanDid you know that September is Addiction Recovery Month? As with other special awareness months, this one provides us with an opportunity to look at an issue more closely. In this case, the issue of coping with stress in healthy ways, particularly if you previously used alcohol or other chemical substances to deal with stress or anxiety.

Stress is a part of everyday life for most people, but for those with addiction problems, dealing with stress is particularly challenging. The American Psychological Association indicates that at least 73 percent of Americans experience some form of stress, and that most people do not have effective coping mechanisms.

People who are recovering from addiction, need to have solid coping mechanisms--practical tools to help them address daily stress triggers in a healthy way. By using healthy methods to cope with stress, an addict is more likely to stay on the path of recovery and avoid slipping back into negative patterns.

Did you know that most people are not aware of the early signs of stress? This can further hamper their ability to cope. It is very important to learn to recognize those early stress signals. Early stages of stress often manifest as headaches, irritability, and anxiety. If the stress continues, it can lead to sleep disturbances, digestive troubles, and difficulty
managing daily tasks or concentrating. For a person in recovery, constantly battling against these symptoms could trigger a relapse.

Are you a recovering addict? Here are seven healthy and quick ways to help relieve and manage your stress:

1. Walk away. Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery to defuse a stressful situation, especially if the location is the cause of your stress. For example, if you are in the middle of a family gathering and Aunt Martha is working your last nerve, a nice walk around the block could be just the thing to calm your nerves. Even excusing yourself to go to the bathroom can give you the quick break you need to clear your head.

2. Breathe. One of the first things we do when we are stressed or anxious, is hold our breath. And if weíre not holding, then weíre breathing so shallowly that weíre one breath away from hyperventilating. Well, all that shallow breathing actually makes us even more anxious and stressed.

When you notice that you are getting stressed, open your mouth wide and yawn. This will get you to take a deep breath, giving your brain the oxygen it needs to release anxiety. After the initial yawn, take a couple more deep breaths to keep the oxygen flowing.

3. Indulge in a healthy distraction. Watch a movie on NetFlix, or play a video game. Play or cuddle with your pets or, if you donít have pets, watch one of those criminally
cute shows on Animal Planet. You might even hop in the car and visit the puppies or kittens at your local pet store.

Go to the library to get a good book you can lose yourself in, write a page in your journal, or just pop on a pair of headphones and rock out to your favorite tunes for a few minutes. The bottom line is, find something to take your mind off the stress without resorting to chemical assistance.

4. Practice relaxation techniques, even when you arenít stressed. Stress is sneaky, and preparation is one of the best ways to combat it. Become well-versed in your coping techniques by doing a daily meditation, taking a weekly yoga class, or even listening to a relaxation tape every night. A daily routine that includes relaxation exercises can help you be more relaxed and self-aware on a regular basis. And, the more relaxed and self-aware you are, the better you will be able to deal with stressful situations as they arise.

5. Focus on what you can fix. The Serenity Prayer says: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Sometimes the biggest source of stress is trying to be something or change or fix something that you can't (like another personís behavior). Itís difficult, but if you can learn to let go of what you canít change, it will relieve a lot of stress.

6. Accentuate the positive. Whatever is happening, as bad as it is, there is also something good in your life, even if itís small and seemingly unrelated. Your job sucks? Well, itís the weekend so you donít have to deal with it again until Monday. Your dysfunctional family is spending the holidays at your house? You wonít have to cook all week because your mother always takes over your kitchen. Your cable is out? Netflix or the local video rental box at your grocery store may have that movie youíve been dying to watch. Itís all a matter of perspective.

7. Get help. Contact your sponsor or recovery counselor, if you have one. Go to a meeting, or find a recovery support group in your area. Talk to a trusted friend or significant other. Everyone has moments when life gets overwhelming. Donít try to weather the storm alone, there are people who can help.

You can find an addiction recovery program and other helpful information about addiction and recovery at TheGoodDrugsGuide.com.

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