Family problems, traffic jams and looming deadlines. Everybody has experienced stress at some point, but for individuals suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, stress can be destructive. Stress overload – or an inability to find stress relief – can lead otherwise healthy people to drug and alcohol abuse. For people in recovery, stress can lead to relapse. It’s for these reasons that knowing how to cope and handle unwanted stress is necessary for a healthy life.
In an ever-increasingly “busy” world, we spend so much time in a stressed state that we forget what it’s like to truly be relaxed. It’s important to be able to recognize signs of chronic stress. When this is the case, being stressed can “feel normal.” However, chronic stress is anything but normal. It poses various health and immune system problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorders and more.
How to Cope with Stress
In order to achieve and maintain a drug-free life, it’s important to learn how to cope with stress. The following are some practical, easy steps you can take to alleviate tension in your life. Learning how to minimize or eliminate stress will allow you to focus on the things that matter most.
- Recognize when you’re stressed. Recognizing stress is the first step in diminishing its impact. Identify your body’s response. Is your breath shallow when you’re stressed? Remember to breathe fully and slowly to relax. Are your muscles and insides clenching and sore? Respond with activities such as yoga to relax your body. Do you become depressed or withdrawn as a response to stress? Then find activities that stimulate and energize your nervous system.
- Write it down. Documenting issues that are causing you stress is one of the most effective ways to “let it out.” All it takes is 10 to 15 minutes daily to write about stressful events and how they made you feel. Aside from providing immediate relief by putting stress into writing, this exercise allows you to create a journal of your journey. Over time, you can review this journal to find patterns in what causes you stress and the ways that effectively help you cope.
- It’s normal for us to be hard on ourselves. Instead of focusing on your failures or the things that went wrong during the day, reflect on everything you did accomplish. Learn to accept that there are certain things that are out of your control. Instead of allowing these things to cause stress, focus on the things that are in your power.
- Meditation allows you to focus your attention on something positive, eliminating the unnecessary stream of negative and stressful thoughts. Whenever you feel tension – breathe. Meditate on something positive and empowering. The best part? You can meditate from anywhere at anytime.
- Physical activity is a healthy way to release stress that manifests in a physical way. As little as 30 minutes a day can help reduce stress and re-energize a worn out body. Plus, you’ll experience the benefit of endorphins and a healthier lifestyle. If you can, try to integrate healthy and relaxing activities into your normal everyday life.
It’s important to note that if you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, are abusing substances or have thoughts of self-harm and suicide, seek professional help immediately. Call 844-498-5343 today.
Stress is a normal part of the human experience, but it should not control or destroy your life. Seeking treatment for stress and any other mental health issues can reduce the triggers that lead to substance abuse and addition.
If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic stress, contact us today.