Often, it is stress that contributes to people becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. Stress is a normal part of our everyday lives — and isn’t always negative. Positive stress motivates you to study for a test or to work toward a promotion at work. Some individuals, however, have a more difficult time distinguishing between positive and negative stressors. This can be an obstacle for those in an outpatient treatment program.
Societal norms imply that taking the edge of with drugs or alcohol is helpful. While doing so may seem true for some people, for others it is a recipe for addiction. Because the recovery process will undoubtedly cause stress, understanding your triggers and the types of stress you are experiencing is even more important than before.
Stress is a non-negotiable fact of life, and while in treatment, recovering addicts are taking steps toward sobriety, they should also focus on mitigating the effects of stress in their lives moving forward. The importance of stress management is twofold and learning tools to cope with stress positively will help those in recovery by bringing peace of mind and also preventing relapse. We’ve gathered some tips and tools for stress management in recovery.
Beating Stress With Mindfulness
In the late 1970s scientists began studying the effects of mindfulness on stress. Mindfulness based stress reduction has been shown to have positive impacts for individuals in recovery. While the term mindfulness might sound intimidating and nebulous, it’s actually very straight forward and easy to practice. The core tenant of mindfulness is being aware of the present moment rather than dwelling in the future or the past. This can be an especially difficult thing to do in recovery, but practicing will help reduce cravings, reduce stress, and provide a tool for dealing with stressful environments. Talk with your doctor or therapist about ways you can incorporate mindfulness-based stress reduction into your recovery.
Beating Stress with Peer Support
Some stress fighting techniques are already built directly into recovery. Peer groups and 12-step programs are an effective way of managing your stress. These groups provide accountability, motivation, and commitment—all of which improve a person’s ability to avoid relapse. These support groups can also change the way people perceive stress.
Studies show that people with support groups have more success in recovery and are better prepared to handle the stress of moving forward with their lives after recovery, than those who do not participate in peer groups. Find a group that you feel comfortable with. If a 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous is most helpful for you then find a meeting you’re comfortable in and make it a regular part of your routine. Maybe you find that seeing a movie and getting coffee with a group of friends in recovery is more helpful and that’s great. What matters most is that you’re honest with the people in whichever type of group you choose. Find what works for you and get plugged in!
Beating Stress with Journaling
Sometimes, staying in the right frame of mind is the best weapon against addiction and relapse. Keeping a journal has been shown to boost mood and increase feelings of well-being, which will help you manage stress more efficiently. Keeping a journal is a great way to work through difficult emotions and can serve as a place to let things out. Journaling helps people in recovery create and maintain a more positive outlook by relieving the anxiety that often comes when we’re tackling difficult emotions.
Writing down all the things that worried or frustrated you during the day is a great way to begin to let go of them. Imagine that as you write, the stresses leave your consciousness and can no longer affect you. Some people find that free writing and then burning the paper therapeutic, as if by literally destroying the paper those stressful thoughts were written on, they have vanquished them forever.
Beating Stress with Exercise
One of the best ways to manage stress is to get up and get moving. The physiological benefits of exercise are well documented. Suffice it to say that that medical heavy hitters like the mayo clinic say that exercise in nearly any form can act as a stress reliever by boosting all the feel-good endorphins in your brain. Regular exercise won’t only keep you distracted from your worries or stress; it will actively train your brain to produce more of the chemicals that allow you to effectively fight feelings of stress.
While stress might be unavoidable, especially while in recovery, there are many tools to help you manage it appropriately. Doing so will decrease your chances of relapsing and also better prepare you to re-enter your regular spaces and relationships as smoothly as possible.
These techniques might not come easy to everyone. Talk with your doctor or therapist about the methods that might work best for you.
At Harmony Place in Woodland Hills, California, we provide a relaxing, comfortable environment for addiction treatment and recovery with many addiction treatment program options, including our Outpatient Treatment program. Contact us today at 1-(888)-789-4330 to learn more about our services and how you or your loved one can prepare for a successful rehabilitation from drug and alcohol addiction at our California treatment center.