Staying Sober Through the Stress
According to a study by the American Psychological Association, almost three-quarters of Americans experience psychological or physical symptoms of stress. For many, stress is a part of everyday life. Health issues, family conflicts, financial worries, and employment concerns are just a few of the stressors we face. For those in recovery, learning how to handle and reduce stress is essential to maintaining sobriety.
Although stress is inevitable, here are five healthy ways to help reduce stress and increase your odds of staying clean and sober.
Focus on Taking Deep Breaths
If you find yourself having a difficult or stressful moment, take several deep breaths to help calm yourself down and relax. Deep breathing helps balance your nervous system by reducing the body’s natural “fight or flight” response. Many times a person’s initial response to a stressful situation can be changed by taking several deep breaths before acting or responding. According to an article by the University of Michigan, one way to breathe deeply is to take a deep breath in through your nose and let it fill your belly. Breathe out through your mouth while pursing your mouth as if you are whistling.
Exercising regularly is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood while boosting your mental and physical health. When you exercise your body releases endorphins that reduce pain and make you feel good, allowing your mind to take a break from worry. Exercising also helps to increase concentration, improve overall cognitive function, and decrease fatigue. A study from Frontiers in Psychology showed that exercise also helps in preventing relapse. Make sure to choose a type of exercise that feels good to you. Walking, bicycling, yoga, tennis, gardening, circuit training, and pilates are just a few of the many options.
Talk it Out
Don’t keep your thoughts, problems, emotions, or worries bottled-up. Doing that increases stress and frustration. Talk to someone who supports your recovery fully. It could be a counselor, family member, friend, or your sponsor. Talking to another person can help put things into perspective, allowing you to clear your mind of negative thoughts and confusion. You are then able to focus on solving the problem.
Keep a Journal
Writing down the feelings, thoughts, and experiences that cause you stress can help you relax and give you perspective. For those in recovery, journals can also be used to record ways to avoid their personal triggers or the lessons learned through counseling sessions. Recording what you’re grateful for is also a way to counteract stress.
Practice Good Self-Care
Taking good care of yourself physically is often overlooked as a way of reducing stress. By making sure you get the proper amount of sleep, you restore your mind and body and make it easier to manage stress. Try to create a relaxing evening routine: reduce your caffeine intake, turn off the television and electronics, and enjoy relaxing music or a warm bath.
Eating a balanced diet also reduces stress by providing your body with the nutrients it needs. In addition, rest when you need to, take medications as prescribed, say no to things you don’t want to do, maintain your personal hygiene, and take some time each day to do something you enjoy, whether it is playing with your pet, praying, reading, or meditating.
Get the Help You Need
If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use addiction, you are living with an enormous amount of stress every day. Don’t give up. Take the first step toward getting the help you need. Call and speak to a professional at Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa, Arizona. Our caring staff use a combination of evidence-based addiction treatments, psychiatric care, and holistic therapies to help you learn the tools you need to live a clean and sober life.