We all get stressed in everyday life, but the tension can feel even greater when you are recovering from former days of substance abuse. It is important to remember in these challenging times that you are not alone. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that over 21.5 million Americans are in recovery from addiction, working each day to overcome stress and other factors that influence them to use again.
By learning how stress correlates with substance abuse and addiction in the first place, you will be better equipped to manage it. There are also various things you can do to combat stress and anxiety, giving you room to focus on your bright, clean new life.
Why Stress Management is Important for Maintaining Sobriety
Being under stress can cause us to act irrationally and/or say and do things we would not do under calmer circumstances. While for many people this may just mean lashing out and saying something to a loved one that they later apologize for, the situation is often much more severe for those in addiction recovery. When you are stressed, your body’s natural response is to look for the fastest way to relief. Unfortunately for some, this can mean turning back to substance abuse. In fact, research going back to the late 1980s has shown the strong link between stress and relapse.
It all comes down to “triggers”. You may already be familiar with this term; it refers to the outside factors that make you want to use drugs and/or alcohol in the first place. Whether they come in the form of peer pressure, work anxiety, certain fears, failures and disappointments, the struggle to find joy in healthy activities, etc., most of these triggers can actually be tied to stress. Even when you are bored, it is common to become stressed out when trying to think of another activity to engage in.
Now, the good news is that relapse does not automatically mean that you have failed and addiction recovery cannot be achieved. The important thing is to get back up and realize how important being sober is to you and those you care about. Because of this, many people actually consider relapse to be an important part of the recovery process. But in order to truly move forward with sobriety, you will need to work on keeping your stress levels in check.
Tips for Stress Management
While substance abuse is common, every individual situation is unique. Your path on addiction recovery is therefore not going to be the same as everyone else. The stress management techniques that work for some may not work for others, and it is important to try different methods until finding what works best for you. Here are some tips you can follow to find your own go-to stress relievers:
Get Physical Exercise
Working out isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s long been proven that exercise is an excellent way to decrease stress. The American Heart Association even reports that physical exercise can induce almost immediate stress relief, with even lower-intensity workouts like walks around the neighborhood having a positive effect.
Your new sober life is the perfect time to take up regular exercise. You may find it most effective to treat your choice of workout like any new hobby — choose something you enjoy and speaks to you. Learn everything you can about it and consider joining a group of like-minded people (from runners groups to yoga classes and everything in between, you can find a fitness group in just about every niche these days). Getting fit will also help you continue making healthy choices in other areas of life.
Ditch the Devices
We tend to rely on our cell phones, tablets, computers, TVs and other devices for just about everything these days. In fact, you’re probably reading this on one of your everyday devices right now. But while convenient, this technology also gives today’s addicts a very modern problem when struggling with sobriety — stress triggers are virtually everywhere!
Internet browsing often leads to feelings of jealousy over social media posts or anxiety over worldly news and current events. Even what seems like just a simple work email can quickly lead to a stressful trigger. So when you’re feeling stressed or even a little anxious, go ahead and set your devices aside. It is also a good idea to decrease your daily and weekly use.
There are many forms of meditation, though all of them focus on steadying your senses and achieving a deepened sense of relaxation. The simplest way to get started (especially when you’re feeling stressed and need a quick outlet) is to find the nearest quiet place where you can be alone. Take a seat or lay down, then shut your eyes and focus on your breathing. Take as long or as little as you need to become more at ease.
Naturally, different kinds of meditation work for different people. You may find it useful to repeat affirmations like “I can stay sober” or “I’m strong and I can do this” after each deep breath. Some people also use music or guided tutorials online, while others prefer complete silence.
Reach Out to Us
At Rise in Malibu, we understand just how important stress management is for sobriety. That’s why we have focused on developing a state-of-the-art addiction treatment center in a beautiful location with relaxing luxury amenities. Our staff of experienced addiction treatment experts and medical professionals is here to help. We’re prepared to not only serve as your guide through detox and the initial rehabilitation stages, but also help you enact an aftercare plan with a focus on stress management.
If you are suffering from addiction or even struggling with your current addiction recovery plan, the time to get help is now. We invite you to reach out to us today so we can learn about your situation and determine what kind of treatment options are best.